The Atlanta Falcons will have something interesting regarding their center position that is rare for their offensive line: competition. In fact, many around the Falcoholic would not be surprised if one of the losers of the center competition becomes Atlanta's new left guard. The loser of the left guard competition will likely end up working at Home Depot.
Lets check and see who we have on the roster.
A fan favorite, Joe Brawley is considered the toughest player on the offensive line, if not the entire team. In fact, he has already punched this article. He is believed to be the heavy favorite for the starting position due to his experience and prior success at center. However, Hawley is returning from an October ACL tear and will be required to learn a new blocking scheme that will require a lot more movement.
While Hawley may be the better talent, and excelled under Mike Tice's scheme, he is expected to face competition from some better schematic fits. If Hawley is slow to return, he may fall behind younger and cheaper options.
Konz has been an absolute bust since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft, but keeps hanging around the roster. He looked serviceable when plugged in at guard early in his career, but has otherwise been stuck in a heated competition with Lamar Holmes for Atlanta's worst offensive lineman.
Konz, like Hawley, is returning from an October ACL tear. Konz, unlike Hawley, has the athleticism you would look for in a zone blocking offensive lineman, but lacks much else. He may flourish in the new scheme and could start at center or guard, but will much more likely need a dramatic turnaround just to keep his roster spot.
I think I will call Stone the wildcard of the interior linemen. Perhaps most famous for his singing voice, Stone was considered one of Atlanta's best undrafted free agent signings in 2014 and he held his own when forced into a starting role. Stone is considered a better scheme fit than Hawley, and has the luxury of not being seven months out from ACL surgery.
With some development after his rookie season, Stone could easily take hold of the starting center spot and never let go, or may get moved over to left guard. He faces very limited competition for either spot. As long as he does not face plant, Stone is a good bet to earn a starting spot.
Based purely on how difficult his name is to spell, Ume-Ezeoke will earn the starting center spot simply to punish the Falcoholic writers. He is a 6-foot-3, 295 undrafted rookie out of New Mexico State. He showed impressive "Dad speed" at his pro day, running a 5.45 40.
According to TFY Draft Insider, Ume-Ezeoke is fluid and excels at blocking in motion, plays with a nasty attitude, but needs to improve his strength and technique. Atlanta's new scheme and coaching staff suggest any addition has the outside chance at making the roster, and the rookie is cheap depth. If he makes the roster, I would hope we do not see him play in the regular season in 2015.
In order to inevitably regret my football predictions, let me take a wild guess at how this all shakes out. I think the most likely scenario is Hawley starting at center, with Stone getting pushed to left guard. I have to say that the likelihood of Konz staying healthy and improving to a player worthy of a roster spot is pretty low. Ume-Ezeoke should take Konz's roster spot thanks to him being young and affordable.
Anyone expecting a different outcome?