Bradley’s Buzz: The Falcons picked Penix. Maybe you’ve heard.

First-round selection quarterback Michael Penix Jr. speaks during the Atlanta Falcons introductory press conference at the Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch on Friday, April 26, 2024. (Natrice Miller/ AJC)

First-round selection quarterback Michael Penix Jr. speaks during the Atlanta Falcons introductory press conference at the Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch on Friday, April 26, 2024. (Natrice Miller/ AJC)

Thoughts on a Falcons draft that produced, depending on your view, a shrewd allocation of resources or the single silliest decision in the history of humankind.

· Drafting Michael Penix might turn out to be a mistake. Those happen. One year in, Carolina is wondering what it saw in Bryce Young that it couldn’t have gotten from C.J. Stroud. Three years after drafting Justin Fields as a franchise quarterback, Chicago offloaded him to take a new franchise QB.

· We can never say the Penix pick was made without forethought. The Falcons knew what they were doing. They might have underestimated the backlash — there have been few backlashes like it — but they had to figure Mel Kiper would hate it. That they took Penix anyway tells us they have the courage of their convictions.

· Kiper and his fellow draftniks — 45 years ago, I interviewed Joel Buchsbaum, who worked out of his Brooklyn apartment and who was Mel before anyone heard of Mel — have made draftniks of us all. Even if we’ve done no more than watch a couple of highlight clips, we all have our opinions, which we aren’t shy about sharing. I stipulate that true draftniks do copious research to support their opinions, which doesn’t mean they’re always right.

· It’s the draft. Nobody’s always right.

· Draftniks tend to view the Big Board. They say, as Bill Belichick — who might have an axe to grind — said of the Falcons, that trading down to take Penix a tad later might have been the way to go. Teams themselves care only about Their Board. If a team gets the guy it wants, it wins. Belichick knows this better than anyone.

· Draft coverage lasts longer than networks allot political conventions, which once aired gavel-to-gavel. Why did networks dial back? Because conventions tend to be snoozefests. How can ESPN liven up coverage of an “event” wherein nobody does more than walk across a stage? By handing us Strong Opinions/Outright Outrage re: those doing the walking.

· I say this as someone who, in 1980, drove 64 miles to sit at my parents’ house watching ESPN’s inaugural draft telecast. (I didn’t have cable; they did.) Buchsbaum was part of the show.

· It’s amazing how hearing TV talkers say, “They need to go defense,” can make you believe a team really does need, um, to Go Defense. That spoken shorthand — as opposed to saying, “procure a defensive player with this pick” — is among ESPN’s contributions to civic discourse.

· Words never heard from any draftnik: “The team itself might actually know what it needs better than I do.”

· I don’t know that Terry Fontenot and Raheem Morris needed Arthur Blank to approve the Penix pick, but I’m reasonably certain they advised him how they were leaning. (Probably as they asked if he’d spring for airfare to Seattle for a private workout.) Not much happens at 4400 Falcon Parkway without the owner being looped in.

· The pick itself will forever attach itself to GM Fontenot. What happens next will fall on Morris. X’s and O’s are a massive part of coaching, but a head coach must, above all else, manage people. The Falcons just added two high-profile quarterbacks. Those two don’t have to love one another, but they do need to co-exist.

· The “just added” part renders this without precedent. Brett Favre was a Green Bay fixture when Aaron Rodgers arrived, as was Rodgers when Jordan Love showed up. Kirk Cousins will be almost as new to Flowery Branch as Penix. Morris has said the QB1 job isn’t open to competition. The team has $180M reasons to hope that’s so.

· That said, Cousins is coming off a significant injury. And he’s about to turn 36. And ...

· Before we venture too far down that winding road, let’s give the Falcons some credit. If we’ve thought of possible complications, they have, too. Flying to/from Seattle leaves ample time for conversation.

· Do I know what will happen with Cousins vis-à-vis Penix? Nope. The Falcons don’t, either. They know what they hope happens — that their high-priced quarterback presides over two/three playoff runs before yielding to a younger quarterback — but hope, to borrow from Emily Dickinson, is a thing with feathers.

· I’ve never known quite what that meant. Falcons do have feathers, though.

· We’ll leave it with this. Kiper graded 31 of the 32 NFL teams’ drafts as C-plus or better. The exception was the Falcons. They got a C. Perhaps as in, “We’ll C.” Which we will, won’t we?

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