The offensive line has been a problem in Atlanta since their Super Bowl run in 2016, and this year is no different. Kaleb McGary seems to have regressed from last season; rookie Jalen Mayfield has shown some progress since his dismal Week 1 performance, but he’s still a ways away from being a starting-caliber guard. It’s also beginning to look like this could be the beginning of the end for Jake Matthews. The stalwart of the Falcons offensive line for years is still formidable in pass sets, but his run blocking so far this year has been sub-par, to say the least.
Atlanta does have an elite-level guard on the right side in Chris Lindstrom, but he may not be alone. After a rough start to the season, first-year starter Matt Hennessy has performed splendidly. Entering Week 6, he was the 13th ranked center in the league out of 35 qualifying centers, ahead of a familiar face.
A pleasant surprise in PFF's grading through five weeks is Matt Hennessy currently ranks 13th out of 35 qualifying centers. Some notable centers he's ahead of: Ryan Jensen, Alex Mack, Rodney Hudson, and fellow 2020 draft classmates Cesar Ruiz, Lloyd Cushenberry, & Tyler Biadasz.
— Matt Karoly (@mattkaroly) October 14, 2021
Center is one of the most important positions in the game, and at first, it appeared like the Falcons may have a gigantic hole there with Alex Mack, who was one of the best free-agent signings in team history, departing for San Francisco. However, it’s beginning to look like their 2019 third-round pick is the center of the future in Atlanta.
Even though Hennessy was slightly undersized, he was a highly coveted prospect coming out of Temple because of his exemplary athleticism, which can be seen early on in his run blocking. Like most of Atlanta’s offense line, he must improve in pass sets in order to take the next step. Still, in his first five starts as a full-time starter, he’s performed exceptionally well against some of the league’s best interior defenders. This is a development worth monitoring as the season continues. The Falcons may not be a playoff-caliber team just yet, but that shouldn’t be the entire focus. This season is all about finding more building blocks, and they might have found a pretty stable one in Hennessy.
Thanks for reading about Matt Hennessy’s progression as the Falcons center. If you liked this article, check out another recent piece by Chase about Kyle Pitt’s quest for the rookie tight end receiving record.
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