NFL Draft News & Analysis

Atlanta Falcons 2024 NFL Draft picks, analysis and rookie spotlight

2X3G11C Atlanta Falcons first round draft choice quarterback Michael Penix Jr., holds a Falcons jersey during a news conference Friday, April 26, 2024, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The 2024 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror. After a flurry of selections from April 25 to April 27, 257 players were selected to join the NFL.

With that, we give you our full recap of the Atlanta Falcons‘ draft, with analysis on every selection the team made during the weekend and an in-depth look at their top pick.

For more information on the players your favorite team drafted, it’s not too late to get the 2024 NFL Draft Guide, which includes expanded scouting reports, draft grades, offseason reports, unique advanced data, PFF grades and much more.

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2024 Draft Picks

Penix — This is the first shocker of the night. Penix had gained more first-round buzz leading up to tonight, but no one thought the Falcons were in the quarterback market after signing Kirk Cousins this offseason. Penix was the only quarterback in college football who recorded more than 40 big-time throws during the 2023 season. Atlanta clearly values his skill set and will look to develop him behind Cousins.

Orhorhoro — Atlanta gives up its third-round pick to move up eight spots and take the 67th-ranked player on the PFF big board. Orhorhoro is a powerful, athletic defensive lineman with some versatility along the defensive line. That didn’t translate to high-level production at the college level, though, as he posted a sub-50th percentile pass-rush grade on true pass sets over the past two seasons. With several talented interior defensive linemen left on the board, this is a bet on his athleticism and continued development in the NFL.

Trice — Trice was one of the most productive pass-rushers over the past two seasons. This is the right spot for him, as the Falcons finally get the edge defender many expected them to grab early in the first round. Trice earned 90.0-plus pass-rush grades in each of the past two seasons and racked up 150 total pressures from 869 pass-rushing snaps in that span.

Dorlus — Dorlus was a force for the Ducks in 2023, as his 46 QB pressures ranked third among draft-eligible defensive tackles. His 134 total pressures since 2021 is the best mark in the country in that span for his position.

Bertrand — An intelligent and competitive linebacker, Bertrand provided value in coverage and as a pass-rusher over the past few seasons and should be a solid contributor on special teams at the next level. He has allowed no touchdowns in coverage the past two seasons and tallied a career-high 30 quarterback pressures as a blitzer in 2023.

McClellan — A reliable back out of Alabama, McClellan has lost just one fumble in his career on over 350 carries, displaying solid wiggle and contact balance on his way to forcing 49 missed tackles in 2023. He joins a stable of backs behind Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, limiting his offensive ceiling in Year 1.

Washington — It took a few years in Illinois’ offensive system to finally break out, but Washington is a reliable blocker and smooth mover who racked up 13 contested catches in 2023. He could find his way into a rotation if he can prove his value on special teams, something worth betting on due to his competitiveness and sneaky athleticism.

Logue — The Falcons draft an interior defender for the third time in this draft. Logue is coming off his best season, earning career-highs in overall grade (71.2) and run-defense grade (72.7) in 2023. Given the players drafted ahead of him, he will face an uphill battle for snaps as a rookie.


Rookie Spotlight: QB Michael Penix Jr.Washington

Scouting summary

Penix has been a productive quarterback in Washington's Air Raid system over the last two years. He shows off NFL-caliber distance and velocity on a variety of different throws, mostly outside the numbers.

Penix can attack the intermediate middle of the field, but it is not as natural. He also tends to throw with power too much. He can be a tick late on timing his throws, opting to put more juice on passes rather than more air underneath. This lends itself to a lack of consistent ball placement. He also opts for the bigger throws and not as many “layups” even when available.

Click here to see Michael Penix Jr.'s 2024 NFL Draft profile.
Wins above average

WAA represents the number of wins a player is worth over an average college football player and is a metric that evaluators can utilize to assess performance. It combines how well a player performed in each facet of play (using PFF grades) and how valuable each facet is to winning football games. The result is a first-of-its-kind metric that allows for cross-positional valuation and predicts future value at the player and team levels.

Penix’s Wins Above Average (WAA) since 2018.
How Penix ranks in the stable metrics
Michael Penix’s percentile ranks in the most stable passing stats since 2018.

While Penix doesn’t compare to others on straight dropbacks, he still earned an 87.1 PFF grade on non-play-action plays. He has been elite at avoiding sacks his entire career and plays well from a clean pocket.

In 2023, the Washington signal-caller produced a 92.9 passing grade and a 0.9% turnover-worthy play rate, both top-10 marks among all qualified quarterbacks.

The bottom line

Penix has an NFL-level arm talent in addition to two years of good health and top-tier production in a spread-out shotgun offense. However, to become a consistent starter and top-15 quarterback in the league, he will need to clean up his footwork, throw with more anticipation and touch (which will improve ball placement), as well as be willing to attack the middle of the field.

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