The Falcons have been busily fixing up the roster and have largely done a nice job of adding useful players to this point. With Justin McCray and John Wetzel joining (or in Wetzel’s case, re-joining) James Carpenter, Jamon Brown, Matt Gono, and Sean Harlow, the Falcons have options aplenty at guard and at least a couple of competitors for reserve tackle roles.
That’s not a small thing. The Falcons are counting on good health and good play from Jake Matthews, Alex Mack, Chris Lindstrom, and Kaleb McGary, plus whoever wins the left guard job. We know it rarely works out that perfectly, though, so the team setting themselves up with options deserves recognition.
What they don’t appear to have at the moment is a backup center. Wes Schweitzer filled that role a year ago, but he’s off to compete for a starting job at guard in Washington. The only player with even a modicum of center experience at the moment is Harlow, who has stuck around this roster long enough to think that he might be the team’s plan at the moment.
There’s a chance Harlow’s taken some major strides forward, of course, but I’m concerned that the Falcons don’t have more depth on the roster. Alex Mack is still one of the league’s better centers and should remain so at age 35, but there’s no question that he is getting older and injuries are a stronger possibility with each passing year. With all the investments they’ve made with this offensive line, I have a hard time believing they’ll simply turn to Harlow if something happens.
Considering that, and considering that Mack’s contract is up after this season, I’m of the firm belief that one of the team’s few draft picks on offense will be an interior lineman who can develop for a year and start in 2021. Harlow should compete for the backup role nonetheless, but Atlanta’s going to be in position where they’ll be seriously considering not bringing Mack back and could be cutting ties with both James Carpenter and Jamon Brown. For reasons both win-now and win-tomorrow, the Falcons will have to address their one remaining major question mark on offense, lest it blow up in their faces down the line.