The Falcons don’t have the most impressive trench play in the league. There are outstanding individuals on both sides of the ball in Jake Matthews, Chris Lindstrom, and Grady Jarrett, but both the offensive and defensive units need to be improved. That obviously comes by coaching and developing these younger guys — Ta’Quon Graham, Marlon Davidson, Matt Hennessy, Jalen Mayfield, etc. — but also through competition.
Atlanta has done next to nothing to add starting-caliber competition at the most concerning areas along the two fronts — interior offensive and defensive lines. The Falcons don’t currently have someone who can push Mayfield for snaps other than Elijah Wilkerson, Germain Ifedi, and rookie Justin Shaffer, all of whom are quality players in their own right but not exactly inspiring. Center Drew Dalman has a year under his belt but is the only competition for incumbent starter Matt Hennessy.
On the other side of the ball, not much has been solidified. Outside of Grady Jarrett, I imagine the coaching staff wants to see outright competition for those other interior spots, but again, the group competing is extremely similar to last year’s personnel. That might be changing, though.
During the pre-practice press conference on Friday, Arthur Smith spoke on numerous matters, but the one that applies to this piece is his comments regarding the additions coming once training camp nears. Speaking on the thought process behind having so many receivers on the roster at this point in the offseason, Smith noted that since there isn’t actual football going on, they’re afforded the opportunity to go heavy in that area for two or three weeks to create as much competition as possible.
However, once real football commences, there will be more big men on their way. Smith noted that once training camp approaches, there will be additions along the trenches to balance things out. So instead of having 100 receivers and only a dozen linemen, they’ll get closer to equilibrium. However, I wouldn’t get excited about a high-profile signing, despite the Falcons having the cap space to pursue one. I imagine this is just procedural, and Atlanta will add depth competition, not starting-caliber free agents. Still, it is exciting that maybe the Falcons will make a splash free-agent signing in the trenches.
Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire
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