The Atlanta Falcons go into the 2020 season with playoff aspirations, as a side whose identity remains on the offensive side of the football.
Just like any other team, the Falcons boast a group of players who are more important than anyone else on each side of the ball.
The performance of every player on this list will be crucial to the team’s success in 2020. I would like to just note that this is not a list of the five best players on the offensive side of the ball, but rather the five players whom the team can least afford to perform poorly or to lose to injury/suspension, whether that’s because of their incredible talent or because of the team’s lack of positional depth.
This countdown will be continuing weekly.
5) Alex Mack
Mack continues to anchor the Falcons’ interior part of the offensive line, going into the fifth year of a 5-year/$45 million contract he signed in the 2016 offseason (how good is a free agent signing who completely plays out his entire contract?).
Has Mack lost a step since 2016? Yes. Such is the nature of getting older, as the University of Cal alum will be 35 before the conclusion of this upcoming season. Even with that lost step, however, Mack is still one of the best centers in the game.
Mack was a solid contributor to both the passing attack and the run game in 2019 (PFF scores of 76.3 and 72.1 in those blocking categories, respectively), grading out as one of the 10 best centers in football in regard to overall PFF score (72.1). His 1,156 total snaps played gave an added layer of consistency through availability, as Philadelphia’s Jason Kelce was the only center who played more snaps last season.
Mack continues to give Matt Ryan a reliable presence right in front of him on every play. If he were to miss any time for whatever reason, third round selection Matt Hennessy would step into that role of starting center. While we like Hennessy as a prospect, it wouldn’t be comfortable to have a rookie man the position. If such a scenario were to play out however, then I guess it’s better than what the Falcons had behind Mack the past four years (nothing).
Alex Mack has already outplayed the expectations set for him as a 2016 signing, and for the fifth straight year he’ll be one of the most important players on the team going into the season. Atlanta will hope to squeeze at least another year of Pro Bowl caliber production from number 51 in 2020.