3 Atlanta Falcons poised for a breakout season

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Georgia offensive lineman Justin Shaffer (54) runs a drill during Georgia’s Pro Day in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
News Joshua L Jones

1. Justin Shaffer

It would be surprising if Jalen Mayfield manages to keep his starting job through camp and the pre-season. Justin Shaffer should be the starting left guard for the Atlanta Falcons in week one. The former Georgia Bulldogs guard was drafted by Atlanta with one of their final two picks. Shaffer

While Shaffer is certainly a prospect who is going to have to be developed there is no denying his raw skill alone makes him an intriguing starter. How can he be any worse than Mayfield was in year one for Atlanta?

If given the chance to start Shaffer is going to establish himself as a reliable left guard that will give Mariota or Ridder a chance to run a consistent offense. He has the potential to be an integral part of Atlanta’s offensive line rebuild alongside Chris Lindstrom and Jake Matthews.

Mayfield cannot be given another chance to start unless Atlanta simply has no other options. His poor play consistently cost the Atlanta offense last season and allowed Matt Ryan to take far too much punishment. Despite the fact that Mariota is mobile he will need pass protection if Atlanta hopes to run a consistent offense. Mariota’s struggles with the Titans and his success can be directly tied to how well the offensive line in front of him was playing. Atlanta needs to improve the offensive line and that will start by inserting Shaffer as the starting left guard.

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