Falcons' Michael Penix Jr. Not Worried About Entering NFL As an Older Rookie QB

Falcons quarterback Michael Penix Jr. passes the ball during rookie minicamp.
Falcons quarterback Michael Penix Jr. passes the ball during rookie minicamp. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is going through all the normal motions for an NFL first-round draft pick with a bright future ahead.

But at 24 years-old, Penix joins Bo Nix as the two oldest incoming rookies of the six quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2024 draft. Penix is also older than NFL quarterbacks Anthony Richardson, Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Sam Howell. He's less than a year younger than Zach Wilson and Justin Fields, who are both entering their fourth NFL seasons.

"Coming in the NFL a little older, I won't say it's like too much of an advantage or disadvantage in any way," Penix told Sports Illustrated in a recent interview. "It depends on the way that you mentally and physically prepare yourself day in and day out. At the end of the day, it don't matter how old you are. When you get to that league, you've got to be able to perform. They want someone who will be able to perform and that's going to be able to do it for a long time.

"I still feel great, and I feel like I have a lot of years ahead of me."

Penix's age could play a factor, however, when it comes to his fit on the Falcons. Atlanta signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a lucrative four-year deal worth $180 million this offseason before shocking the NFL world and drafting Penix with the No. 8 pick.

Atlanta can get out of Cousins's contract after two years, but even if the Falcons follow that path, Penix would be entering the 2026 NFL season as a 26-year-old quarterback entering his first campaign as a full-time starter.

For now, Penix plans to study behind Cousins, the 35-year-old veteran who has seen just about everything since entering the league in 2012.

"I feel like the biggest adjustment on the field playing quarterback in college versus the NFL probably would just be different looks and stuff that you will get," Penix said. "I'm definitely ready for it all. I feel like there will be probably different disguises, guys can disguise [the defense] better. ... Possibly seeing different defenses that I haven't seen in college as well. But for me, I'm just going to stay poised and do what I do."

Penix and Cousins will share the field next week during the Falcons' mandatory minicamp, which begins Monday.

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Tom Dierberger


Tom is a writer and editor for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In the industry since 2016, Tom joined Sports Illustrated in 2023 after working with FOX Sports, Bally Sports, and NBC Sports. Off the clock, Tom can be seen throwing out his arm while playing fetch with his dog, Walter B. Boy.