The Falcons don’t have a formidable offensive line; the group boasts three of the worst pass protectors in the league — Jalen Mayfield, Kaleb McGary, and Matt Hennessy. Despite the weakness, the front office elected to do little to add competition this offseason. Terry Fontenot signed Elijah Wilkinson and Germain Ifedi while adding Justin Shaffer through the draft, all of whom should be reserve players on most NFL rosters yet will compete for starting roles this offseason.
One position battle, in particular, should be quite interesting because there was no influx of talent. Hennessy and Drew Dalman are set to compete for the starting center position. At this point in the offseason, it is Dalman getting a majority of the first-team reps, according to Tori McElhaney of the team website.
Center competition: During a two-game stint last season, we saw the Falcons rotate Matt Hennessy and Drew Dalman at center. Hennessy would get two series, then Dalman would relieve him for two. That only went on for two games, though, because it’s not an easy task to rotate linemen, let alone a center. Now, the Falcons have the opportunity to do that in OTAs and training camp. For the most part on Tuesday, Dalman worked with what many would consider the “first team” offensive line. We can say that because it’s the group that included Jake Matthews and Chris Lindstrom, who we can infer with ease will be the starting left tackle and right guard. With pads going on in August, we’ll know a lot more about the offensive line then.
Neither is exactly the ideal replacement for Alex Mack, who held down the position for years before Hennessy took over last season. As Tori mentioned, the two spent a couple of weeks rotating, which was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen from a professional football team. It failed, obviously. Both players are extremely athletic and can make all the blocks required in a zone running scheme, but that isn’t the issue. The center is the captain of the offensive line and makes all the assignments and blitz calls. The winner of this position battle will be the one who separates themselves from the other in pass protection — individual blocking and, as a leader, verbally.