What will the Falcons do at center: pro prospects, draft prospects, and rostered prospects

del191220069 ncc vs uw w

According to Michael Giardi from NFL Network, the Falcons have been in the free-agent market looking for a center.

With Alex Mack leaving in free agency, there is a massive void left by one of the most beloved Falcons in team history. Atlanta had been linked, as well as other teams, to former free agent David Andrews before he returned to New England. Andrews was one of the only “blue-chip” free agents the Falcons had been rumored to be interested in, but that doesn’t mean Fontenot is done trying to address the center position.

The Falcons have three different options at center for 2021: a veteran via trade or free agency, a rookie from the draft, or Matt Hennessey. There are still some free agents available that align with how much Fontenot has been willing to spend. Austin Reiter was the 12th ranked center according to PFF last year and was an integral part of a championship team. Though a better pass blocker than run blocker, he would be an immediate upgrade over Hennessey. PFF projects Reiter to garner just under $5 million a year in his new contract, which is a reasonable price, though something like $3.75 million would make me feel better.

Austin Blythe would be a cheaper option than Reiter, but he might be a better guard than center. His run-blocking in recent years has been a rollercoaster; however, Fontenot could bring him in as the competition for the open guard and center positions. PFF projects Blythe to receive a $2.75 million a year deal, which is a little high. What makes the most sense to me is bringing back someone like Ben Garland, who can give an offense consistent play in the run game at center and guard at an affordable price — PFF projects a one-year, $2.25 million deal.

The only reason I suggest trading for a center is the recent acquisition of Lee Smith via trade from the Buffalo Bills. Someone like Ben Jones, who has a connection to Arthur Smith, would garner significantly more draft capital than a conditional seventh-round pick, but the possibility is there.

The Falcons could always address the position through the draft by taking Quinn Meinerz (second-round), Jimmy Morrissey (third-round), Creed Humphrey (third-round), or Landon Dickerson (third-round) — all of whom can come in and start from day one. Meinerz is my draft crush, and someone we have talked about extensively at SportsTalkATL.

Mienerz is an absolute hog when it comes to run-blocking. He has a heavy background in wrestling, and it shows in his technique when pushing defenders around. He uses fantastic leverage and hand placement to dictate the direction of the defender.

Dickerson would’ve been the first center off the board in April if it weren’t for an injury late in the year. Morrissey isn’t someone many analysts have been talking about, but I think he could come in and do just as well as anyone in this class — his desire to play football is off the charts. Humphrey is an ultra-athletic center, whereas Dickerson and Meinerz are more maulers. The former Oklahoma Sooner would be a good fit in Smith’s wide-zone scheme.

This isn’t saying Hennessey can’t be the starter, though it seems Fontenot wants to bring in someone to at the very least compete. Trading for a veteran center is on the table as Fontenot struck a deal to acquire veteran tight end Lee Smith, but starting quality centers might be harder to acquire than 33-year-old blocking tight ends.

SportsTalkATL Custom Georgia Golf T-Shirt

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: