How does Matt Hennessy fit into the Falcons offense?

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With their third-round selection, the Falcons took their only offensive player in the Draft, addressing their single need on that side of the ball — the offensive line. Matt Hennessy is a former tackle from Temple turned center that boosted his stock substantially during the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, displaying unique athleticism for a man his size. Harrison Coburn profiled Hennessy before the Draft. Here’s what you need to know about Atlanta’s newest addition to the offense:

Typically, I am not the one to overreact to a player having an excellent Combine. I like to rely on the tape. However, I came away from the event blown away with the athleticism Hennessy possesses for an offensive lineman. He is a converted tackle and put on an absolute show, given his size, demonstrating incredible lateral quickness. However, the former Owl is not just some Combine star. He is a stud lineman who is ready to take his talents to the next level.

In 2018, Pro Football Focus recorded Hennessy as having allowed pressure on just 0.6-percent of his active snaps, which was good for the best mark in the entire FBS. That season he did not surrender a sack and allowed just two pressures. With that being said, he had an average grade of 70.4 as a run blocker. Hennessy was dominant once again in his redshirt Junior season and now is primed to be a mid-round selection in this year’s Draft. I am sure Atlanta is thinking that he could slot in at left guard, and hopefully become a starting center down the road.

As a rookie, Matt Hennessy will compete with Matt Gono, James Carpenter, and Jamon Brown for the starting left guard job. Ideally, he’d show up ready to start from day one, completing the Falcons offensive line. I’m just not so sure that’s realistic. Hennessy will receive a fair chance, but I still give Gono, Carpenter, and Brown the edge, especially since the offseason will probably be abbreviated thanks to the coronavirus.

While the hope is for Hennessy to start at left guard as a rookie, his long-term outlook is at center. Alex Mack is entering the last year of his contract, and the Falcons will have a decision to make on him at the end of the year. We will see whether they decide to retain him for 2021 and beyond. If they do, expect Hennessy to have a much better chance at earning the starting left guard job in year two. If they don’t, it most likely means they know Hennessy is ready to take over at center. Maybe he can make enough of an impression to earn playing time as a rookie, but he will probably sit and learn before taking over as a starter in his second season. If he can do that, he’ll be a hell of a third-round pick.

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