Falcons Blocked Broncos Plan to Trade Up With Jets for Matt Hennessy

Matt Ryan

Getty Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons.

If I’m a quarterback, I want the juiciest, leanest meatball in the crockpot. By that I mean, I want the biggest but fastest center out there possible. That’s what the Falcons did in this year’s NFL Draft for Matt Ryan and their future QBs.

Atlanta went for the best center in the draft class, former Temple Owl Matt Hennessy. And along the way, they ruined the Denver Broncos’ plan to trade up with the New York Jets for the Temple star.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Broncos were set to make a deal with the New York Jets to move up to the 79th slot in the NFL draft, but the Falcons ruined the party by picking up Hennessy with the 78th pick. Wow, so close!

The Jets would have picked up a late fifth-rounder in the deal. Broncos ending up settling for LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry with the 83rd pick.

Hennessy Ranked Top Center

Pro Football Focus graded Hennessy with an 86.9, ranking him at the top in 2019

Hennessy showed off his versitality early on as an offensive tackle at New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep and then moved on to play at center for Temple. That’s 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 only 1.25% of his true pass sets in the last two seasons.

In 2019  Hennessy 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. Temple also awarded him a single-digit jersey, an honor for team leaders and tone setters at Temple.

Looking Up to Alex Mack

Hennessy said at the NFL combine in February that he grew up looking up to the Falcons current Pro Bowl center, Alex Mack. Now, he gets to learn from his new teammate.

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“As a young player, at such a developmental position always looking to get better, having a veteran of that caliber will be absolutely incredible,” Hennessy told Falcons’ reporter Will McFadden. “It will be extremely helpful as I enter the league.”

Won’t Take Mack’s Spot, Yet

Although he played center in college and that’s his strong suit, the Falcons have a different plan for Hennessy. They will have him compete for the starting left guard spot this offseason. Head coach Dan Quinn sees a lot of qualities in Hennessy that can be translated into other interior offensive line spots.

“He’s got really quick feet,”  Quinn said of Hennessy on AtlantaFalcons.com. “He can get out on the edge. He pulls at center. There’s a lot of stuff that he does that you want to see in a wide zone offensive scheme.”

Mack is approaching the final year of his NFL contract with Atlanta and will turn 34 this year. The Falcons knew what they were doing when they drafted a Mack clone.

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