Falcons’ Drew Dalman appears higher than expected on PFF position rankings

NFL: NOV 10 Falcons at Panthers

The Falcons‘ offensive line was surprisingly one of the best units in football last year, a stark difference from the 2021 campaign when they ranked among the worst groups in the league.

It features arguably the best guard in the NFL and now the highest-paid in Chris Lindstrom as well as one of the most underappreciated players in the league in Jake Matthews. Kaleb McGary returns to the right side, forming one of the most menacing duos in the game with Lindstrom. Despite being a revolving door for much of the past few seasons, the left guard position is hopefully heading for steady waters with the drafting of Matthew Bergeron.

And the leader of the unit is Drew Dalman, who took over for Matt Hennessy at center. The Stanford product struggled in 2021 but improved in 2022 as a full-time starter for the first time in his career. His athleticism is apparent in the run game, though he leaves something to be desired in pass sets. For a fourth-rounder, the Falcons have to be satisfied with his progress thus far.

However, an elite center can transform offensive lines. It’s arguably the third most important position on the offensive line, and Drew Dalman seems to be an ascending talent. Moreover, his standing in the league might be even better than I originally thought. PFF ranked Dalman as the 13th-best center in football last year:

In only his second year in the league, Dalman ranked 11th among centers with a 69.5 PFF run-blocking grade. There’s room for improvement in pass protection, where his 27 total pressures allowed were the fifth most at the position, but if he can do that, then he is set for another impressive season.

Dalman’s most impressive moments come in the run game, generally when he’s reach blocking. His athleticism is put on full display in those moments, but with that movement, he gives up a bit in his size and strength. Dalman’s anchor probably isn’t where it needs to be, but Jason Kelce is the perfect example of an athletic, undersized center turning into one of the best players at his position.

Now, Drew Dalman isn’t close to Kelce, but their play styles are similar. If he can continue to refine his pass protection, the Falcons center can become one of the better players at his position and a real difference-maker.

Photographer: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire
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