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Falcons rookie report: Matt Hennessy getting a long look with starters

Atlanta's third-round pick is putting his best foot forward in the left guard competition

The Falcons may very well view Matt Hennessy as the eventual successor to Alex Mack at center, but he's seemingly got a decent shot to start at left guard for Atlanta in 2020.

If Atlanta is going to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2017, its offensive line must play better than it did last season. It's notable that Hennessy was the Falcons' lone draft pick on the offensive side of the ball, and he's a player who has the skills to succeed in this scheme.

Player: Matt Hennessy

Position: Offensive line

College: Temple

Notable college stats: Started 36 games across four seasons at Temple

Second opinion: "I would say we're only two practices with pads in, and that's a big difference for the big guys, but he's certainly doing a good job with where we're at. I think the mental quickness, the calls and the ability to communicate at the line of scrimmage, that goes into it – big plays, especially playing guard. Walker ended the Falcons' Thursday practice with an interception off a Blidi Wreh-Wilson tipped pass, closing out the team's scrimmage and denying the offense any points during a two-minute drill." – Dan Quinn, Falcons head coach

Hennessy first began working with the starting offense during Atlanta's first scrimmage on the third day of training camp. He's been with that group ever since. There have not been many glaring mistakes from Hennessy while out there on the field, but trench play is one of the more difficult things to properly evaluate in camp.

In the Falcons' two scrimmages, Hennessy's play has been fairly steady. He's looked slightly better as a run blocker than in pass protection, but that's not to say he's in over his head in that part of his game. Atlanta has been able to pick up some big gains on the ground while running it behind the left side of the line, and Hennessy has made a few really impressive blocks to clear open space.

Athleticism is a key part of Hennessy's game, and the Falcons should be able to maximize that with their scheme. Atlanta has shown a lot of wide-zone runs in camp and matched that with some play-action bootlegs, both of which allow Hennessy to make blocks while on the move. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's affinity for screen passes will also get Hennessy out in space, and he's already made a number of blocks downfield in practice.

After drafting Hennessy, the Falcons made it clear he would be right in the mix for the left guard spot. Through the first six days of practice, he appears to be pulling ahead.

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