The Atlanta Falcons will now have two new starting offensive linemen on Sunday with Elijah Wilkinson taking over from Jalen Mayfield and Drew Dalman winning the starting center job. It was a competition that dragged on through the entire preseason and into the final week before kickoff for the Falcons. Dalman looked solid throughout camp and the preseason and is deserving of getting a chance at the starting role.
Matt Hennessy didn’t play to the level expected last season though a part of the blame is on the offensive line around the center. Dalman is a fresh start alongside Wilkinson and will give Atlanta fans a reason to believe this line is capable of taking a step forward.
A step forward shouldn’t be hard considering Atlanta allowed Matt Ryan to lead the league in hits taken last season and allowed interior pressure often as soon as the snap hit Ryan’s hands. A step forward is simply proving themselves capable and consistently giving Marcus Mariota or Desmond Ridder a chance to make a play.
Dalman was a 4th round pick for the Falcons last season and spent the year backing up Matt. Heading into the preseason Hennessy was the favorite with Dalman having to win the job and prove he is capable of being a starting center.
Whether it was Dalman’s performance or Matt’s continued inconsistencies Drew now has his chance at proving he is the long-term answer at the position. A position the Atlanta Falcons have been trying to address since losing Alex Mack two years ago. The impact that losing Mack had on Atlanta over the last two years speaks to the importance of the center and how much Mack covered up for this team during his time as the starting center. Mack brought stability that perhaps the Falcons will find once again with Drew Dalman as the starter.