Falcons third-round pick reverts back to college position

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Jalen Mayfield‘s career hasn’t gone like he or the Falcons had hoped after the club took the Michigan product in the third round of the 2021 draft.

A college tackle, Mayfield was expected to kick inside to guard at the pro level. Initially, the plan seemed to be to let him acclimate to his new position and the league by sitting his rookie season, which isn’t unusual for this regime. However, plans went awry when injuries forced Mayfield into the starting lineup.

And to say he struggled mightily is an understatement. There were some outlets and metrics that had Mayfield rated as the very worst offensive lineman in football. You expect some growing pains when asking a player to switch positions, but the difficulties Mayfield experienced were beyond that.

The 2022 campaign was an opportunity for him to bounce back; it never came to fruition, though. Mayfield was placed on the Injured Reserve at the beginning of September due to a back injury and never appeared on the roster, eventually ending the season on the IR.

It’s unclear what the future holds for Mayfield because even his league-average replacement, Elijah Wilkinson, looked exponentially better. Being a starter again may never happen, but he’s reverting back to his collegiate position this offseason, practicing at right tackle in OTAs.

With the decision to move on from Germain Ifedi, the Falcons have an opening for a swing tackle. It’s possible Jalen Mayfield earns that role, but there is no indication he can even become a serviceable player in this league, and that’s one of the most important backups, outside of quarterback, in football.
Photographer: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire
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