The Falcons did little to upgrade the offensive line this offseason, which was one of the worst units in football a year ago. After surrendering 40 sacks last year, Atlanta is choosing to run it back with essentially the same squad. They did add to the position through the draft and free agency, but the front office didn’t invest heavily. Elijah Wilkinson was brought in to compete with Jalen Mayfield and looks to have already won the starting job over the second-year man out of Michigan.
So there is competition, but instead of iron sharpening iron, it’s more like lead sharpening lead. The Falcons could basically trot out the same starting five, three of whom were some of the worst pass protectors in the league, with Mayfield being the very worst in pass sets. Every Falcons fan knows how poorly the former third-round pick played during his rookie year. But in case you don’t, here are a few clips:
Jalen Mayfield received a 90+ PFF Grade from this game… pic.twitter.com/1O6Rj3rN2H
— Luke Carr (@LukeCarrFB) November 15, 2021
This wasn’t Fletcher Cox or Javon Hargrave that did this to Jalen Mayfield. This was Hassan Ridgeway. Hassan Ridgeway had his way with Mayfield here. pic.twitter.com/QmQBCpkb8u
— Matt Karoly (@mattkaroly) September 13, 2021
Javon Hargrave won an NFL-high 48% of his pass-rush snaps in Week 1.
Prayers up for Jalen Mayfield & Atlanta's interior offensive line. pic.twitter.com/TCRHG2TfwD
— Austin Gayle (@austingayle_) September 13, 2021
Jalen Mayfield has to get lower, no way you can fight with hands up high against Suh. Plant has to be way better. pic.twitter.com/7nDCygoCxi
— Luke Carr (@LukeCarrFB) December 5, 2021
I might be wrong but I think Jalen Mayfield failed to even touch Arden Key rushing over the inside pic.twitter.com/EVQn9eT6NM
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) December 20, 2021
It’s nearly impossible to be the absolute worst pass protecting guard in football, but Mayfield owns that crown. I will say he was pretty decent as a run blocker. However, thus far, in the offseason, Mayfield has been putting out the same film. Below is a rep against a fringe roster player in Derrick Tangelo from earlier in training camp.
#Falcons G Jalen Mayfield vs DT Derrick Taneglo pic.twitter.com/IYNs7B38Oa
— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) August 2, 2022
Contrary to popular belief, Mayfield was actually decent in limited action in the Falcons preseason opener against the Lions, but he still looked just alright against a lousy team’s backups. Vying for a starting position, Mayfield needs to be dominating reserve players. Instead, he looked average. That’s not going to be good enough.
It was even worse against the Jets last night. Mayfield again ran with the second-team offense and had several miscues in pass protection, along with penalties in the red zone, which kept the Falcons from scoring touchdowns. There really isn’t much he’s done to inspire confidence that he can one day become a viable starting option in Atlanta.
Cutting bait on Mayfield could be an option, but giving up on a third-round pick just one year into his career is a knee-jerk reaction. There are some instances where cutting your losses is the wise decision, but it’s not like Mayfield is taking the spot of another player that has shown more promise. He’s certainly not capable of being a full-time starter at this point in his career, and he might not ever become that player. Still, there’s nobody behind him on the depth chart that warrants cutting Mayfield. The Falcons will surely stick it out with their 2021 third-round pick.
Photographer: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire
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