Kirk Cousins

Falcons Docked 2025 Fifth-Round Pick For Tampering Violation

The Eagles will not face punishment following the NFL’s investigation into the Saquon Barkley signing. In the case of the Falcons, however, discipline has been handed down.

The league announced on Thursday that the team has been docked its 2025 fifth-round pick as result of improper communication with quarterback Kirk Cousinswideout Darnell Mooney and tight end Charlie WoernerThe Falcons have also been fined $250K and general manager Terry Fontenot will pay a $50K fine.

“While the [Anti-Tampering] policy permits clubs to engage with and negotiate all aspects of an NFL player contract with the certified agent of any prospective unrestricted free agent during the two-day negotiating period, any direct contact between the player and an employee or representative of the club is prohibited,” a league statement reads (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport).

“This includes discussion of travel arrangements or other logistical matters, which the club acknowledges took place with regard to these three players.”

Indeed, Rapoport’s colleague Tom Pelissero notes communication related to travel took place within the two-day negotiating window for the three players in question. They had already legally agreed to terms by that point, a key factor in the league’s decision to issue a penalty which is lighter than those previously imposed in other circumstances. Still, the fact Atlanta has been disciplined while the Eagles have not falls in line with the previous expectation on the outcome of their respective investigations.

Cousins has publicly stated he spoke with Falcons medical personnel before his deal was official; he also acknowledged that he offered to help recruit Mooney prior to his contract being on the books. Cousins ultimately signed a four-year $180MM contract while Mooney inked a $39MM pact covering the next three seasons. Both players will be key figures in Atlanta’s offense moving forward.

“We are pleased the review is complete,” a Falcons statement reads. “We cooperated fully with the league and its review, and appreciate the NFL’s thoroughness. As we do with every process, we will review how we operate and look for ways to improve.”

As a result of today’s decision, Atlanta will move forward with five 2025 draft picks. The team has its own selection in each of the first four rounds, as well as a seventh-round pick from the Rams. The Falcons are not currently projected to receive any compensatory picks.

Kirk Cousins Expects To Be Full-Go ‘Well Before’ Week 1; Grady Jarrett Eyeing Training Camp Return

Thrust into an unusual situation following the Falcons’ scrutinized decision to draft Michael Penix Jr. eighth overall, Kirk Cousins is also in the final stages of rehab from his first significant NFL injury. The high-priced Atlanta QB is not quite recovered from his Achilles setback.

Cousins is close, however, and the 13th-year veteran said (via The Athletic’s Josh Kendall) he expects to be operating at full speed well before Week 1. In the meantime, the new Falcons passer has taken every snap with the team’s first-stringers during the offseason program.

The Falcons gave Cousins a four-year, $180MM deal that includes $100MM in practical guarantees. While they then made the unexpected move to draft Penix, no doubts about the team’s 2024 starter have surfaced. Cousins, who will turn 36 in August, is locked into that role. Although Penix took third-team reps — behind Taylor Heinicke — during the Falcons’ Tuesday minicamp practice, Kendall notes the Falcons expect the rookie to be the backup this season. Heinicke accepted a pay cut to remain with his hometown team, doing so before the team picked Penix.

The Vikings lost Cousins for the season on Oct. 29. While the durable QB had missed two starts during his Minnesota tenure, they came due to COVID-19 or the team resting starters in a season finale. The Falcons are betting on the immobile passer’s track record before he went down, and Cousins has called himself ahead of schedule; he previously did not expect to participate in OTAs or minicamp. Training camp will begin nearly nine months after the injury.

Cousins is the Falcons’ highest-profile player rehabbing an injury, but the team’s longtime defensive line anchor is also coming back from a season-ending malady. Grady Jarrett sustained an ACL tear on same day Cousins went down, missing the final nine games of Atlanta’s season. Unlike Cousins, Jarrett is not participating in Atlanta’s minicamp. Going into his 10th NFL season, Jarrett said he is targeting a return by training camp.

That’s my goal,” Jarrett said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Gabriel Burns. “Obviously with training camp, there’s always a ramp-up period. Mine might look a little different, but the bulk of it, my goal is to have most of my reps in and not too much special treatment on the side. That’s what I’m working for.

It would certainly not surprise to see Jarrett begin camp on Atlanta’s active/PUP list, a designation that keeps players sidelined until they are ready to practice. A stay on the reserve/PUP list — a regular-season designation that costs players at least four games — appears unlikely. ACL tears affect players differently, and it has not been uncommon to see some midseason knee injuries lead to early-season absences the following year. But more than 10 months will have passed between Jarrett’s injury and the Falcons’ Week 1 game. It should be expected the veteran D-lineman will be available for Atlanta’s opener.

Jarrett, 31, is working in a third defensive system in three years. After Dean Pees‘ retirement, the Falcons moving on from Arthur Smith effectively ensured DC Ryan Nielsen would be a one-and-done in Georgia. Raheem Morris and fellow ex-Rams assistant Jimmy Lake are now running the show. Two seasons remain on Jarrett’s three-year, $49.5MM extension.

NFL Nearing Conclusion In Falcons, Eagles Tampering Investigations

NFL investigations are ongoing into potential tampering by the Falcons and Eagles this offseason related to their Kirk Cousins and Saquon Barkley additions. A final outcome could be coming shortly.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports a conclusion in both cases is “likely to come this week.” A similar report emerged close to the start of this year’s draft, but that was quickly met by a formal league announcement stating the investigations would continue. Any draft penalties levied against Atlanta or Philadelphia will therefore affect the 2025 draft.

Schefter’s latest update confirms that of the two teams, the Falcons are believed to have committed a “more significant” tampering violation. As a result, they are positioned to receive a harsher penalty than the Eagles if any league discipline is deemed necessary. The NFL has docked teams draft capital in the past following investigations into inappropriate free agent communications.

The Falcons worked out an agreement with Cousins (four years, $180MM) on March 12, and he has said publicly he spoke with the team’s trainer during the legal tampering period which immediately precedes free agency. Cousins also admitted to offering his recruiting services for Atlanta to sign wideout Darnell Mooney. He did end up inking a Falcons deal, but communication originating from Cousins before his own pact was official would constitute another violation.

In the Eagles’ case, league attention stems from remarks made by Penn State coach James Franklin about direct communication between Barkley and general manager Howie Roseman. Such talks are prohibited during the legal tampering window for players (such as Barkley) who do not represent themselves. The Eagles have denied any wrongdoing, but they could be subject to fines or the loss of draft capital.

The same is true for the Falcons, although owner Arthur Blank has likewise stated he does not believe any violations occurred. Both players will still play for their respective new teams in 2024 and beyond regardless of what happens regarding potential discipline. It will nevertheless be interesting to see if a final decision is made in the coming days.

Kirk Cousins Addresses Achilles Rehab

Atlanta will receive plenty of attention this summer as both Kirk Cousins and first-round rookie Michael Penix Jr. take part in their first training camp with the team. The latter is slated for backup duties in 2024, but the former faces questions about his rehab from the Achilles tear which ended his Vikings tenure.

Cousins was enjoying a productive campaign until the injury, one which did not hinder his earning power in free agency. The 35-year-old secured $100MM guaranteed from the Falcons to serve as the team’s starter for at least the short-term future. Cousins was initially taken aback by the Penix selection (eighth overall), although he has since turned his attention back to his ongoing recovery.

Head coach Raheem Morris recently indicated the four-time Pro Bowler’s Achilles is not yet fully healed at this point. Cousins is nevertheless taking part in Atlanta’s offseason workouts as he continues to make progress. His latest comments on the matter represent a further sign he will be back to 100% in time for the start of the regular season.

“I’m good to go,” Cousins said during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show (video link). “I’ve told people for a while that if the Super Bowl were today, I’m playing. And that goes back probably – I think when I first got here, I was working out and we got maybe a week or two into my rehab and I did some drills where I said, ‘Hey, if the Super Bowl were today, I’m playing.’ And they seemed to agree.”

Cousins still has plenty of time to continue rehabbing, and the team will no doubt take a cautious approach during the summer if he suffers any setback. It seems unlikely that will be the case, though, so the most compelling storyline for the offseason (and likely beyond) will presumably be Penx’s development along the sidelines and how Cousins performs knowing his projected successor is in the organization.

Kirk Cousins Addresses Michael Penix Jr. Pick; Latest On Falcons’ Draft Plan

A post-draft report pegged Kirk Cousins as stunned by the Falcons’ decision to choose Michael Penix Jr. eighth overall. The move came after the team signed Cousins to a contract that includes $100MM in practical guarantees.

Some around the league are already wondering if the Falcons will be ready to trade Cousins in 2025, as only the Packers have tried a multiyear QB apprenticeship during the rookie pay-scale era (2011-present). Cousins did respond, “I don’t deal in hypotheticals” when asked if he would have signed with the Falcons knowing they would use a top-10 pick on a passer. But the veteran QB is onboard with Atlanta’s current (and unexpected) setup.

[RELATED: Raheem Morris Addresses Falcons’ QB Situation]

I don’t really deal in hypotheticals. We could go down that path for a long time in a lot of ways,” Cousins said, via’s Terrin Waack. “It just doesn’t do us any good. I’m excited for this opportunity that I have. I think it’s a real privilege to be a quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, and I’m trying to make good on the opportunity that they’ve given me with the way I work each day and the way we play this fall.

Cousins, 35, then compared this situation (via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter) to Washington drafting both he and Robert Griffin III in 2012 and Michigan State signing Nick Foles as a recruit in 2007. Foles transferred to Arizona after one season. Washington also had no plans of using Cousins as a starter, with that path emerging after RG3’s career began to skid off course. As we detailed during a recent Trade Rumors Front Office post, no direct 21st-century comp exists of a team committing to a high-profile starter (for big money) and following it up with a first-round pick a month later.

“Mike’s been great. There’s always going to be competition in this league and you have to go out and earn it,” Cousins said, via The Athletic’s Josh Kendall. “I’m going to control what I can control and I understand there’s a lot you can’t control.”

Part of the reason Cousins departed Minnesota came due to the team informing him a quarterback pick was likely. Now, Cousins is in that situation in Atlanta. The Falcons may not have been fully committed to go in this direction until its new coaching staff arrived, with’s Jeremy Fowler noting the hires of Raheem Morris and his staff coming close to free agency may well have influenced the team to acquire a stable quarterback before doing work on the draft class. Penix’s throwing session during a workout in Seattle moved the needle for the Falcons, as Fowler adds the Morris-led staff zeroed in on the Washington product.

Falcons national scout Joel Collier provided the initial report that led to Penix going eighth overall, Ledbetter adds. Collier’s work on Penix began following the 2023 draft, and the left-handed QB obviously built on his profile with a dominant 2023.

Shoot, that goes back to, all of our guys in this draft, that goes back to the year before,” Falcons assistant GM Kyle Smith said during a feature on the team’s YouTube channel. “So, our guys will start evaluating the players for next year’s draft at the end of May here. So, Joel was the guy who really liked Penix.”

Smith referred to Collier, the former Chiefs assistant GM, as the “primary scout” on the Penix project. Other members of the organization cross-checked his report on the former Indiana recruit, and the new coaching staff became involved later in the process. The Falcons attempted to trade back into the first round, which would have cost considerable future capital, with Laiatu Latu being the target in what would have been a way for the team to add Penix and grab a high-end prospect to help the 2024 team. That plan did not produce a trade, however, and the Falcons exited the first round with a player who might ride the bench for multiple seasons.

We had an opportunity in unrestricted free agency to add a guy that we believe in, and it’s an expensive addition because he’s that guy,” Smith said of Cousins. “He’s our quarterback. He is our starter. He’s the guy we believe we can win with. He’s the leader.”

Coming off a torn Achilles suffered Oct. 29, 2023, Cousins is moving close to being cleared for full work. He is not there yet, but Morris said (via Pro Football Talk) the recently signed QB has been “pretty much full-go” for what the team is asking him to do in voluntary workouts. Full clearance is not expected during the offseason program, but Cousins expects to be at full speed when camp starts.

Until then, the previously durable passer will continue his rehab while Penix — who dealt with a number of major injuries while at Indiana from 2018-21 — assimilates, creating a historically unusual situation. Penix’s development will certainly be a key 2024 subplot to monitor, though Cousins will still be set to move last year’s Division I-FBS passing leader out of the spotlight once he completes his recovery. But Penix’s progress will be a lingering issue — most likely throughout Cousins’ Atlanta stay.

49ers Notes: Cousins, Deebo, Gipson, Green

No matter how successful the 49ers become, we cannot seem to move past “what if?” scenarios involving bigger-name QBs. Although Tom Brady is retired (for the time being, at least), Kirk Cousins made a second free agency defection. The former Kyle Shanahan Washington pupil received a $100MM practical guarantee from the Falcons, tying him to the team for at least two seasons. Atlanta’s Michael Penix Jr. pick raised the most eyebrows of any in the draft (and stunned Cousins), and one GM said (via the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora) the Falcons do not choose Penix at No. 8 if they do not believe a Cousins trade destination will emerge. Another GM viewed the Penix pick as a path for Cousins to, at long last, reunite with Shanahan in San Francisco.

It would cost the Falcons $37.5MM in dead money to trade Cousins before June 1 next year, and while one of the GMs who spoke to La Canfora the NFC South team would likely be willing to eat dead money to move the high-priced starter (presuming Penix is ready), the 49ers passing on a Brock Purdy extension to bring in a QB ahead of his age-37 season would be quite the development. Jed York has spoken of a Purdy extension, though La Canfora posits the former Mr. Irrelevant’s asking price could point Shanahan back to Cousins.

The 49ers made early preparations to sign Cousins in 2018, before their Jimmy Garoppolo extension, but Shanahan has long been a fan — to the point the 49ers were willing to offer No. 2 overall for the then-Washington QB in 2017. While dot connecting makes sense after the surprising Penix pick, several hurdles appear in the path to Cousins joining the 49ers this late in the game. Here is the latest out of San Francisco:

Latest On Falcons’ First-Round Decision

The Falcons shocked many last Thursday when the team opted to take Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft. Some saw the pick as a reach in value, thinking Penix could’ve been acquired after trading back; others saw it as a wasted opportunity to address a position of need after Atlanta had just given Kirk Cousins a four-year, $180MM contract with $90MM guaranteed. All this while the team faces significant tampering charges that could deprive them of more first-round picks in the future.

In terms of value, the Falcons feel like they got a steal, at least concerning positional value. Penix ended up being the fourth quarterback off the board, following Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye, but was drafted before J.J. McCarthy, who was ahead of him in most mock drafts and rankings. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Atlanta was satisfied with how the order of quarterbacks played out, favoring Penix over Maye and McCarthy, though Maye’s camp had reportedly declined to work out for the Falcons, thinking he’d certainly be gone by No. 8 overall. Some in the building even had Penix ahead of Daniels at No. 2.

There also didn’t seem to be any interest in trading back. Breer reports that the team had made inquiries about moving up previously, investigating the availability of the draft’s top picks while in Indianapolis. They reportedly “got flat-out no’s” from Chicago and Washington, while the Patriots and Cardinals informed Atlanta that they would not be moving from their selection until they were on the clock. These rejections were part of what spurred the Falcons to land Cousins.

Speaking of Cousins, we’ve mentioned that the 36-year-old passer was understandably “stunned” by the team’s decision to take a quarterback with their first-round pick, much like the rest of us. Breer added a bit of context to Cousins’ shock that came with little-to-no heads up. He tells us that Cousins’ departure from Minnesota was, in part, due to the Vikings informing him that they had plans to draft a passer in 2024, making the Falcons’ similar plan sting all that much more.

The reasoning for the Falcons’ decision ended up coming down to their research into draft history. Head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Terry Fontenot explored a history that showed, on average, only one or two quarterbacks that make it in the NFL out of each draft class, very few of whom are drafted outside the top 10 picks. Also, having sought Cousins to escape from the past two years of a kind of quarterback crisis, owner Arthur Blank was not content with Cousins being the only plan moving forward; he desired a succession plan.

Fontenot explained to Blank that the personnel department didn’t have much faith in the quarterbacks that would be coming out over the next two years, that their best chance for a strong succession plan to Cousins was right in front of them. Fontenot asked Blank, “Are we gonna win for a couple seasons and then not be able to win anymore…?”

In the end, Blank agreed to the moves deemed necessary, Fontenot called Cousins once they were on the clock, and the team selected his eventual replacement. In doing so, though, the team gained a newfound sense of security. Assistant general manager Kyle Smith told the media that with the acquisition of Cousins and the drafting of Penix, the brass feels great about the quarterback position “for the next five years…minimum.”

Falcons HC Raheem Morris Addresses QB Situation

One of the draft’s biggest surprises came on Friday night when the Falcons used their top selection on quarterback Michael Penix Jr. That move came about despite Kirk Cousins being on the books for the next four years (including fully guaranteed salaries in 2024 and ’25).

Cousins will, of course, enter the coming season atop Atlanta’s depth chart. The presence of a successor in the form of Penix could nevertheless invite questions about a change in the pecking order in the event of poor performance on the part of the former. Cousins – who was stunned by the Penix selection – was the top free agent passer in this year’s class despite his age (35) and the fact his 2023 season was cut short by an Achilles tear.

A slow start in 2024 or further missed time brought about by a new injury could lead to calls for Penix to see the field. The Washington product dealt with plenty of health-related issues of his own in college, but his stock rose during the pre-draft process to the point where he was expected to hear his name called in the first round. Still, Atlanta was not thought by many to be a serious suitor for Penix, and owner Arthur Blank reportedly played a central role in the decision to select him.

Raheem Morris is back in place as the Falcons’ head coach after an interim stint with the team in 2020, and he will be tasked with overseeing the transition to Cousins under center. When speaking to the media following the arrival of Penix, Morris made it clear there is not a QB controversy entering the 2024 season.

“We came up with a decision, this is what we plan to do,” Morris said (via ESPN’s Marc Raimondi). “And Kirk does not have to look over his shoulder every time he throws a bad pass. Like, that is not the case. So I know I’m going to have to tell you guys once or twice that that is not the case. Like, we are here to go win, and we are here to go win it all. We are here to win as much as we can win.”

Indeed, expectations will be high for Atlanta’s offense after the team struggled to find a suitable Matt Ryan replacement. Cousins will provide a high floor for the unit, but plenty of attention will be on Penix as the Falcons’ intended starter down the road. If Morris’ stance holds true through the campaign (and likely the 2025 season as well), however, Cousins can be assured of his spot in the QB1 role.

Kirk Cousins ‘Stunned’ By Falcons’ Decision To Draft Michael Penix Jr.

Upon signing Kirk Cousins, the Falcons informed him they were planning to take a quarterback in the later rounds. Just before the team decided to shift course, the high-priced free agency pickup received a rather important phone call.

The Falcons did inform their $45MM-per-year quarterback they were planning to use the No. 8 overall pick on Michael Penix Jr. They did so upon going on the clock. But the longtime Vikings starter is believed to have been stunned by his new team’s decision, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reports.

[RELATED: Arthur Blank Played Role In Falcons’ Penix Pick]

As should be expected, Cousins is concerned this pick does not help the Falcons for the 2024 season, according to Russini (subscription required). Viewed at points as a potential late-first-round prospect, Penix did become connected to the Falcons early this week. But the team’s decision to follow up the Cousins contract — which includes a $100MM practical guarantee, one that ties the 35-year-old passer to Atlanta through 2026 — by selecting the recent national championship game starter was easily the most surprising first-round move.

He got called on the clock, obviously because of the sensitive time with the issues of what you got going on,” Falcons HC Raheem Morris said of the team’s decision to notify Cousins. “It’s never a right time to talk to a quarterback about those things. And reactions are always going to be private when it comes to those things, unless Kirk decides to tell you some of those things that are whatever they may be. But he’s a competitor, just like us all. And you can always expect those things to go just like you kind of think.”

It is not unusual for teams to follow up free agency acquisitions with first-round QB picks, but those moves generally come after a team added a bridge-type passer on the market. Cousins is not that, and an unusual setup is now in place in which Penix learns on the job — potentially for multiple seasons. The Packers are the only team in the fifth-year option era to park a first-round passer for multiple years, but Jordan Love arrived as a No. 26 overall pick. With Penix going eighth, this marks new territory for QB commitment.

Atlanta’s No. 8 draft slot played a key role in the team’s logic here, as Morris said the team views it as unlikely — based largely on Cousins’ status — it will be picking in the top 10 again anytime soon. This is a common refrain among teams, though the Falcons have held a top-10 pick in each of Terry Fontenot‘s four offseasons as GM. Their odds to win the NFC South did improve after Cousins’ arrival, but Penix will probably not move the needle for 2024.

Kirk Cousins our quarterback. We are very excited about Kirk and this team,” Fontenot said, via The Athletic’s Josh Kendall. “We’re very excited about that quarterback room. Kirk is our quarterback. Adding Michael Penix is thinking about the future.”

The Falcons were confident in last season’s Division I-FBS passing leader throughout the pre-draft process, per’s Pete Thamel, who adds the team sent an eight-man contingent — which included Morris, GM Terry Fontenot and OC Zac Robinson — to Seattle to meet with the standout southpaw.

Penix did not take a “30” visit to Atlanta, Russini adds, though the sides had scheduled a meeting in March. While it is less common for a team to make this sort of investment without going through with a visit, that move could have tripped alarms around the league. That said, Penix was highly unlikely to be chosen before the Falcons went on the clock at 8 regardless of his visit schedule.

Coaches were viewed as generally higher than scouts on Penix, with some mechanical issues impacting thet deep-ball maven’s stock. He should have plenty of time to iron those out. Sean Payton said Thursday night he believed the Raiders were targeting Penix, and they had been linked to the Washington prospect. But their plans may well have changed when the Falcons doubled down at the game’s premier position.

Expected to devote the No. 8 choice to defense, the Falcons will be tasked with addressing that side of the ball beginning tonight. Not using No. 8 overall to help a Cousins-led team does create an uphill battle on the roster-building front. Their timeline with Cousins will be fascinating now, as the team will not stand to benefit much from Penix’s rookie contract thanks to the Cousins commitment. The Falcons gave Cousins a no-trade clause, according to OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald, who adds it would cost $35MM for Atlanta to cut ties with the veteran in 2026.

The Packers did not benefit much from Love’s rookie deal, stashing him behind Aaron Rodgers — which created a few headlines during the four-time MVP’s final Green Bay years — for three seasons. That blueprint also involved the Pack trading up for a 21-year-old QB; Penix will turn 24 in May. Green Bay is the only team to execute an extended-runway plan at QB since the 2011 CBA reshaped roster building; it will be interesting to see how the Falcons’ Cousins-Penix effort goes.

Latest On Michael Penix Jr.’s Draft Stock

Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye have sat relatively firmly atop mock drafts throughout the pre-draft process, and it sounds like J.J. McCarthy is destined to join that trio in the first round. After those top-four quarterbacks, focus shifts to Michael Penix Jr., and it remains to be seen how early the Washington product will hear his name called.

While teams like the Patriots (No. 3) and Giants (No. 6) have recently been connected to Penix, it’s more likely those teams would only consider the quarterback in trade-back scenarios. As a result, Albert Breer of believes the earliest Penix could be selected is by the Falcons at No. 8.

This would be an unexpected move by Atlanta, considering the team’s sizable offseason commitment to Kirk Cousins. However, since Penix has generally been viewed as less NFL-ready than his positional counterparts, the Falcons could secure their QB of the future while also competing now. As Breer notes, the duo of GM Terry Fontenot and head coach Raheem Morris could be enticed by a “Jordan Love-like plan” at quarterback, and they’ll likely be in prime position to select the Washington signal caller with their first-round pick.

While the Raiders could be ready to pounce on Penix at No. 13, there’s been some belief in league circles that the QB could land with the Seahawks at No. 16. The organization has plenty of connections to the incoming rookie. Besides being a local prospect, Penix is also familiar with new Seahawks offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb and offensive line coach Scott Huff, who were both poached from the Huskies staff. We heard similar rumblings surrounding the Seahawks/Penix connection earlier this month.

However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter cautions that the Seahawks may not be a logical landing spot for the quarterback. For starters, GM John Schneider has only drafted a pair of quarterbacks in his 15 years at the helm (Russell Wilson and Alex McGough). Further, the Seahawks are high on offseason acquisition Sam Howell as a future replacement for Geno Smith. Plus, Howell is the same age as Penix and already has 18 games of NFL experience.

If Penix isn’t selected in the top half of the first round, it’s uncertain how far he could fall. Yahoo’s Charles Robinson notes that there are several teams that have a “second-round grade on him or lower.” Penix has continued to be a divisive prospect, with one NFL offensive coach previously declaring him as the No. 2 QB in the draft (behind Williams).

Part of the skepticism is naturally surrounding the player’s injury history, as Penix suffered four season-ending injuries during his time in college. The QB was also knocked for his “scattershot accuracy underneath,” although Penix seemed to alleviate some of those concerns with a strong pro day showing. The varying opinions of the signal caller will make him one of the more intriguing prospects to watch through the first two days of the draft.