Not every Atlanta Falcons fan hates the Michael Penix Jr. draft pick

To hear fans talk, the Atlanta Falcons made a monumental error in judgment when they took Michael Penix with the No. 8 overall pick, but this fan is actually coming around.
NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Washington fans have probably had their fill of Atlanta fans and NFL analysts droning on endlessly about what a horrible idea it was for the Falcons to draft Michael Penix Jr. Well, here's one Atlanta fan who has come around and sees the value in what Terry Fontenot did.

Michael Penix Jr. has always been a fun quarterback to watch. Even during his oft-injured days at Indiana, it was clear that Penix had something special and if he could be surrounded with the right talent and the right coaches, his ceiling was as high as any quarterback in the nation.

Penix proved that to be true during his final year of college play at Washington, leading the Huskies to a national championship game appearance, and garnering countless individual honors and records for himself along the way.

When it came time for NFL Draft evaluations, however, the name Michael Penix was rarely spoken in the same breath with USC's Caleb Williams, LSU's Jayden Daniels, or even UNC's Drake Maye.

The excuses for not rating Penix higher than a mid-first-round or high-second-round pick were the same as we've heard many times before when the draft approaches.

He's left-handed. He's injury-prone. He's too old. He can't win the big game. He's not accurate enough.

In the words of George Costanza...yadda yadda yadda.

So when the Atlanta Falcons shocked the world and selected Penix with the eighth overall pick of the draft just a few short months after giving Kirk Cousins a $180 million, 4-year deal to be their quarterback, most NFL fans were stunned.

Atlanta fans? Well, they were furious. Many still are. The bad taste of multiple failed Thomas Dimitroff draft classes is still too fresh, and they were certain that with Kirk Cousins now on board, Atlanta would go after some high-end defensive talent to start this draft.

The idea that Atlanta would brush aside defensive standouts like Dallas Turner was unthinkable, and the Falcons fanbase went berserk.

There is no downside to Atlanta picking Michael Penix

Admittedly, I was one of those fans at first. It was such a shock to the system and seemingly inconceivable given all the money being thrown at Cousins. Why would Atlanta do this? To further torture an already flayed fanbase?

No, they did it because it was most likely the smartest move to make. Because the best time to find your backup or succession plan at quarterback is when you don't necessarily need a backup or succession plan.

Forget all the downsides. Every rookie quarterback has downsides, some you don't even see until they put on an NFL uniform. What should be considered are the huge upsides to Michael Penix the player and as a draft pick at No. 8.

Starting with the obvious, his talent. Penix has a huge arm, he has good pocket presence, he can scramble (when needed), he's got a high football IQ, and he's a natural leader. These are all qualities that are essential for any quarterback, and Raheem Morris and his staff now just have to refine and grow those qualities.

He's also very mature, not just in age, but mentally. Everything about him oozes maturity. The chances of finding out Michael Penix Jr. was late to a practice or missed an OTA because he was recovering from an all-night bender, or being stopped for carrying weapons or drugs onto a commercial flight are slim.

His attitude towards the game is mature. He wants to learn. He wants to get better than he already is, and he clearly sees that Kirk Cousins is a seasoned vet who can teach him a lot.

The question of giving Kirk Cousins all that money when you were obviously looking to draft a top quarterback anyway are also easy to explain away. Cousins' contract is four years, The majority of the guaranteed money for Cousins will be paid in the first two years ($50 million was a signing bonus).

That means Atlanta has at least two years to chase some trophy case hardware with Cousins and then could potentially transition right into Penix at any time after that. Most of the cap money for Atlanta will come in those first two years.

So if Cousins falters or simply isn't living up to expectations after two years, Atlanta can release him from his contract or transition his money and not take a huge cap belt. That will give Penix two years to backup, learn, and soak up everything he can from a consummate pro like Cousins as well as the rest of his Atlanta teammates.

At the worst, Atlanta will have two presumably very good quarterbacks for four years, and will be able to catch the fifth-year option of Penix's rookie deal after Cousins' contract is up. Not a bad position to be in, honestly.

There's no such thing as a perfect draft, and sometimes the picks that seem to make the least sense are the ones that end up providing a bounty of success.

I'll leave you with this thought. Since 2014, there have been 21 quarterbacks taken with a top ten pick (not including this year's draft). Of those, maybe nine of them -- at best -- are even coming close to performing at the level of a QB taken that high.

It's a crap shoot, no matter what, so you may as well go with your gut instinct.