Michael Penix Jr. has been drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 8 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

He was the fourth quarterback selected, following Caleb Williams (No. 1), Jayden Daniels (No. 2), and Drake Maye (No. 3).

Taken in the opening round of the draft on Thursday night, Penix becomes the first Washington quarterback picked on Day 1 of an NFL Draft since Jake Locker was selected eighth overall in the 2011 draft. He’s also just the seventh UW quarterback to be drafted in the NFL Draft’s modern era (1994).

After Atlanta signed Kirk Cousins to a 4-year, $180 million deal with $100 million guaranteed, the selection of Penix marked the first stunning move of the draft.

And it was a stunner.

Cousins, 35, is reportedly set to receive $90 million of his guaranteed money in 2024-25. He spent the previous 6 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, and has been selected to 4 Pro Bowls. Cousins is coming off a season-ending Achilles rupture suffered in October 2023.

But Penix’s talent always warranted a look.

As a super senior in 2023, Penix won the Maxwell Award and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. His second-place finish in Heisman voting was the highest by a UW player in program history. Penix set a school record for passing yards with 4,903 — the second most in a season by a Pac-12 quarterback. It was a record that stood for all of 1 year; Penix set the program record for passing in 2022 during his first season with the school, then came back and broke it again in 2023.

For his career, Penix threw for 13,741 yards and 96 touchdowns. In 28 games at Washington, he completed 65% of his throws for 9,544 yards and 67 touchdowns against just 19 interceptions.

In terms of production, Penix is undeniable. Turn on his tape and sit in astonishment at some of the throws he’s able to make. If Penix was 2 years younger with only half his injury history, he might have gone in the top 3.

Nevertheless, Penix’s checkered past at Indiana did not cause him to tumble out of the opening round.

“There’s some guys who have medical question marks. Michael Penix, surprisingly, is not one that I’m hearing about,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on The Pat McAfee Show this week. “He’s got a basic clean bill of health for a lot of teams.”

And that went hand-in-hand with what Penix wrote in a letter published to The Players’ Tribune earlier this week.

“Truth is, I’d be more worried if I had never been injured. We don’t all come back the same,” he wrote. “I can’t speak for those that have never gone through anything. But I can speak on me. I’ve seen how deep my foundation is. I know the storms I’m prepared to weather. For most people that’d be the end of their story. But there’s more to my story, and I own every page of it.

“… Truth is, it’s an EKG that will tell you everything you need to know about me.”

Penix spent 4 seasons at Indiana. Each year ended prematurely because of an injury. He suffered torn ACLs in 2018 and 2020, and shoulder injuries derailed his 2019 and 2020 campaigns. Before UW, he never played in more than 6 games during a season.

But Penix was kept upright during his UW tenure and the Huskies reaped the benefits. Behind a Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line, UW quarterbacks were sacked a total of 19 times in 28 games over the last 2 years.

And the results speak for themselves. Now, Penix will have time to develop in the NFL and learn from Cousins.