2020 NFL Draft: Falcons select Matt Hennessy in third round

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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons selected former Temple center Matt Hennessy with the No. 78-overall pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. It was always a possibility that the Falcons continue to fortify their offensive line through the draft after using two first round picks for the unit last year. Pro Bowl center Alex Mack's future with the Falcons is unclear after the 2020 season, and Hennessy gives Atlanta an option if the two sides do part ways.

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WHY HE FITS

Hennessy, 22, was a three-year starter at Temple and improved with each consecutive season. He was a finalist for the Remington Trophy in 2019, and brings a lot of athleticism to the table. Hennessy proved to be extremely effective on pulls and operating out in space while at Temple, something that is a staple of Mack's game and something the Falcons prioritize on the offensive line. In the short-term, the Falcons will have a competition at left guard, and it remains to be seen if Hennessy will be in the team's plans for that competition. Hennessy will also give Atlanta a solid backup option to Mack at center with the potential to become much more.

DRAFT GRADES

Chris Trapasso, CBSSports.com

  • Grade: B+
  • Comment: "Incredibly agile center with awesome balance. Anchor and overall strength need to get better. Falcons needed more youth on the interior of their offensive line. By his second or third season, Hennessy can be a star."

Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report

  • Grade: B
  • Comment: "Hennessy, the brother of the Jets long snapper Thomas Hennessy, is an impressive pass protector on tape, with a knack for mirroring and adjusting to a pass-rusher's moves. According to Sports Info Solutions, he ranked first among all centers in both blown block percentage in the passing game (0.2 percent blown blocks) and Sports Info Solutions' proprietary pass-blocking points system. He's also quick-footed when moving laterally for outside zones or other combo blocks."

NFL COMPARISON

Joe Hawley: NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein compares Hennessy to former Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Joe Hawley.

"Three-year starter who uses hand placement, leverage and athletic ability to make up for his lack of mass and length. He's patient to center blocks and runs his feet to lock in and begin sustaining. He has the lateral quickness and body control to reach, pull and stay connected to blocks on the move. He has issues with timing blocks up to linebackers, but that should be correctable. Below-average physical traits could limit his suitors, but scheme fits will like the movement and intangibles he brings to the table. He has early backup, eventual starter potential," Zierlein writes of Hennessy.

Editor's note: This story will continue to be updated.

With the No. 78 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select Temple center Matt Hennessy.

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