The Atlanta Falcons shook up the 2024 NFL Draft when they used the No. 8 overall pick on quarterback Michael Penix Jr., injecting immediate controversy into a room that just welcomed Kirk Cousins. But if the Falcons had their way, they would've been even more aggressive on Thursday, according to NFL Media, exploring a trade back into the first round for a top defensive prospect.

The Falcons specifically tried to move back into the teens to select UCLA pass rusher Laiatu Latu, per Steve Wyche, with head coach Raheem Morris eyeing reinforcements for the front seven. Latu ultimately went No. 15 overall to the Indianapolis Colts as the first defensive player taken on Day 1. It's possible Atlanta used some of its Day 2 picks, including one or both of the team's third-rounders (Nos. 74 and 79 overall), in the unsuccessful bid for a second first-round selection. 

"Flight 24" -- the New York Jets' 2024 NFL Draft documentary on YouTube -- supports this reporting, as Jets general manager Joe Douglas is shown getting off the phone with the Falcons and saying, "They want to come back up to 10, so they want eight and 10."

The Falcons ended up addressing their front seven with each of their next four selections, selecting Clemson defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro 35th overall (second round), Washington defensive end Bralen Trice 74th overall (third round), Oregon defensive end Brandon Dorlus 109th overall (fourth round), and Notre Dame linebacker JD Bertrand 143rd overall (fifth round). 

Team brass has strongly defended the Day 1 pick of Penix, which stood out as one of the few glaring surprises of the first round. Even with Cousins just signing a $180 million contract as a free agent in March, both Morris and general manager Terry Fontenot have championed Penix as a potential future face of the franchise, advocating for both short- and long-term investments under center.