Falcons Select Explosive Temple Center in 3rd Round

matt hennessy

Getty Matt Hennessy #58 of the Temple Owls.

The pick is in! The Atlanta Falcons have selected former Temple center, Matthew Hennessy as their third-round pick at No. 78 in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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Scouting Report

Hennessy is easily the best second-level blocker in this class by far. He is a stable anchor who has the kind of base and technique to withstand a lot of power. His 32” arms are in the 50th percentile for a center prospect.

For a center, he is a very good athlete with solid balance and quickness. He has a competitive toughness in him and is considered a scrapper who will fight till the final whistle. His core and lower body strength are promising. Hennessy has solid, quick hands with nice placement and is reliable when locking down opponents.

He has shown good mental processing while making line calls. He anticipated and communicated opposing pressure packages, constantly showed an ability to adjust to defenders post-snap. He has good one zone concepts and is good at timing combo blocks when reaching opponents.

The former Owl was awarded a single digit jersey, an honor for team leaders and tone setters at Temple.

Hennessy’s Collegiate Career as a Temple Owl

Hennessy showed off his versitality early on as an offensive tackle at New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep who then moved on to play at center for Temple where he excelled.

Hennessy only missed a total of four games in his three seasons as an Owl. He started 12 games in his final collegiate season, 11 in 2018, and 12 in 2017. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed pressure on 1.25% of his true pass sets the last two seasons.

In 2019 he earned third-team Associated Press All-American, first-team All-American Athletic Conference, and a finalist for the Remington Trophy as the nation’s best pivot.

Athleticism runs in the family in this pick too. His brother, Thomas, was a long snapper at Duke University and is now playing for the New York Jets.

What NFL Expert Says

Here’s what NFL expert analyst Lance Zierlein on the savvy Owl:

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.

Draft Grade

Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report:

“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.” –Grade B

Welcome to the ‘A,’ Hennessy!

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