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NFL Draft Analysis: Falcons Behind 8-Ball After Stunning Pick of Penix

Everything went according to plan for the first four picks and then the chaos began in the first round of Thursday night’s 2024 NFL Draft. The biggest surprise when it came to defying the NFL Draft odds was not pulled off by Jim Harbaugh and the Los Angeles Chargers.

 

NFL Draft Analysis: Falcons Behind 8-Ball After Stunning Pick of Penix
Michael Penix Jr. #9 of the Washington Huskies | Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

Despite signing quarterback Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract in the offseason, the Atlanta Falcons used the No. 8 overall pick on University of Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Penix was among six quarterbacks taken in the first 12 picks as no defensive player went in the top 10. Even with that head-scratching move, Atlanta is sixth at +1200 in the odds of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.

The NFL Draft continues on Friday with the second and third rounds. The Cleveland Browns are one of three teams yet to make a pick and the NFL odds at +150 for the Browns to take a defensive lineman or edge rusher, +300 to pick an offensive lineman, +425 to pick a cornerback and +650 odds to select a linebacker.

 

 

Things Heating Up in Hotlanta

As Michael Penix Jr.’s name was being announced as Atlanta’s first pick at No. 8 overall on Thursday night, it was impossible not to think of a scene in Major League II when Charlie Sheen’s character, Ricky Vaughn, intentionally walked a batter to load the bases for the movie’s villain and top power hitter.

Bob Uecker’s Harry Doyle character called the game and said, “Well, he’s gonna walk Beck to pitch to Parkman. Obviously [Cleveland manager Jake] Taylor is thinking … I don’t know what the hell he’s thinking.”

The Falcons have selected receiver Drake London, tight end Kyle Pitts and running back Bijan Robinson early in the first round in recent drafts and ignored the defense. One of the worst pass-rushing teams in the NFL, the Falcons had their pick of difference makers at the position on Thursday night and instead took a quarterback who might not start for at least a couple of years.


The odds were set at +3000 for Atlanta to use its first pick on a quarterback compared to -250 odds to select an edge rusher or defensive lineman. The Falcons had the ninth-best odds of +2200 to select Penix.

Atlanta picks again at No. 43 on Friday so perhaps that Falcons can select another quarterback.

 

Few Surprises in Top 10 Picks

With quarterbacks Caleb Williams of Southern California, Jayden Daniels of LSU and Drake Maye of North Carolina landing with the Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders and New England Patriots with the top three picks and the Arizona Cardinals selecting Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison at No. 4, things went according to plan with those four players the betting favorite to land where they did.

The Los Angeles Chargers went with offensive tackle Joe Alt and the former Notre Dame star was picking up steam as the No. 5 pick. He was tied with Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy at +250 to land in that spot. Of course, those Vegas NFL odds came with the potential of a team trading into the No. 5 spot.

Alt was seen as a potential landing spot for the Tennessee Titans at No. 7. With Alt off the board, the Titans took Alabama offensive lineman JC Latham and he had the No. 2 odds at +400 behind Alt.

The first of the draft-day trades had Minnesota trading up a spot to pick McCarthy at No. 10. That paid out pretty well at +2800.

 

Everybody Takes a Quarterback

In the last two drafts, eight teams picked a quarterback in the top 10.

It wasn’t too surprising to see Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson all go in the top four in 2023, while Williams, Daniels and Maye were all projected to go where they did on Thursday night.

However, those doing a parlay with Penix at No. 8, McCarthy at No. 10 and Bo Nix going to Denver at No. 12 would be happy campers today.

Among the players to fall out of the top 10 was Georgia tight end Brock Bowers. He had +3000 odds according to the BetUS sportsbook odds to go to the Las Vegas Raiders and the Raiders were thrilled to select him at No. 13. The Raiders were the favorite at -150 to draft Penix.

 

Rich Get Richer: Worthy Pick for Super Bowl Champion Chiefs

Two-time defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City made a move late in the first round.

The Chiefs went from 95th to 133rd and from 241 to 248 to move up four spots from No. 32 to No. 28. Kansas City took Texas receiver Xavier Worthy, the player who set the NFL Scouting Combine record with a time of 4.21 in the 40-yard dash.

The biggest surprise is who made the trade. The Buffalo Bills have been trying to get the better of Kansas City in the playoffs for the last few years and are in need of help at receiver after trading away No. 1 wideout Stefon Diggs.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes worked some magic when speedy Tyreek Hill was in Kansas City and now comes another burner in Worthy.

The Bills traded down again, going from No. 32 to No. 33. Now Buffalo has the top pick of the second round and perhaps the Bills will land a receiver there.

 

The Defense Can Rest … and Rest They Did

As the quarterbacks and receivers began to fly off the board, defensive players tumbled a bit.

The feeling was a pass rusher would be the first defensive player off the board. Alabama’s Dallas Turner was the front-runner at -105 followed by UCLA’s Laiatu Latu and Florida State’s Jared Verse at +800.

After 14 straight offensive players went off the board, the suspense ended when the Indianapolis Colts picked Latu at No. 15. Latu and Byron Murphy of Texas were the players listed as likely No. 9 picks in the BetUS mock drafts leading into the draft.

The Seattle Seahawks took Murphy at No. 16 followed by Turner going to Minnesota at 17 after the Vikings traded up again before Jared Verse was picked by the Los Angeles Rams at No. 19.

 

Playing the Waiting Game

Receiver Adonai Mitchell wins the prize as the player with the best odds to go in the first round who has yet to be selected. He had -450 odds to be among the first 32 selections. Cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry was next at -350 followed by defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton (-300) and offensive lineman Jackson Powers-Johnson (-250).

 

 

They are joined by offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia, receivers Ladd McConkey and Keon Coleman, linebacker Edgerrin Cooper and cornerback Cooper DeJean as options early in the second round.

The first three teams to pick on Friday will be Buffalo, the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.

 

 

Questions of the Day

Who has the top pick in the second round 2024 NFL Draft?


The Buffalo Bills own pick No. 33 after trading down twice late in the first round.

How many running backs were selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft?


No running backs were taken among the 32 first-round picks on Thursday but multiple running backs should go on Friday.

 

The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.

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