We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.
We’ll get things started with the projected starters. After taking stock of WR, we now turn our attention to the offensive line. The Falcons have had a lot of turnover up front over the past several years with the addition of four new linemen in 2019: first-round picks Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary, and veteran free agents Jamon Brown and James Carpenter. Meanwhile, All Pro center Alex Mack is nearing retirement, leaving only LT Jake Matthews as a long-term certainty along the OL.
Today we take a closer look at veteran All-Pro Alex Mack, who has manned the center position for the Falcons since joining the team in 2016.
C Alex Mack
Age: 34 (35 during 2020 season)
Contract: $10.55M cap hit in 2020, free agent in 2021
Career Production: 165 games played, 165 games started | 80.6 overall PFF grade | 3 fumble recoveries | 15 holding penalties, 10 false starts, 38 total penalties
2019 Production: 16 games played, 16 games started | 72.1 overall PFF grade | 3 holding penalties, 2 false starts, 7 total penalties
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 1st round (#21 overall) by the Cleveland Browns (2009-2015), Atlanta Falcons (2016-present)
Measurables: 6’4, 311 | 33” arm length | 10.75” hand size | 5.17 40-yard dash | 1.75 10-yard split | 7.31 3-cone | 106” broad jump | 28.5” vertical jump
After Todd McClure’s retirement in the 2013 offseason, the Falcons had big shoes to fill at the center position. Thomas Dimitroff hoped 2012 second-round pick Peter Konz would take over the position, but Konz turned out to be a colossal draft bust on that ill-fated 2013 squad. The Falcons would try—and fail—to find competent center play for the next two seasons before Dimitroff decided to go after a battle-tested option: veteran Alex Mack.
Mack—who had already been selected to two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team while with the Browns—was given a substantial contract to join the Falcons before the 2016 season. He wound up being arguably the best free agent signing of Dimitroff’s career, as Mack solidified what was a shaky unit in 2015 and turned it into one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. Since then, Mack has been one of the few reliable pieces on Atlanta’s offensive line. He’s been named to four Pro Bowls and an All-Pro team (for his play in 2016) since joining the Falcons.
Mack has thus far had his two best seasons in the NFL with the Falcons, putting together elite years in both 2016 (91.8 PFF grade) and 2017 (91.3 PFF grade). He’s also been remarkably durable and tough, suiting up for all 16 games every season for Atlanta since joining the team. His combination of athleticism, size, advanced football IQ, and leadership have consistently elevated the Falcons’ offense during his tenure.
However, the Falcons may be reaching the end of the road with Mack. He enters 2020 on the final year of his contract, and Mack will be 35 before the end of the season. The fact that an extension has not already been negotiated—and the selection of C Matt Hennessy in the 2020 NFL Draft—likely signal that retirement is near for the veteran. While Mack was still good in 2019, his play took a step back overall (72.1 overall PFF grade, lowest of his career). That could easily have been a product of a bad overall offensive line, but it’s worth monitoring his play again in 2020.
Projection: Alex Mack figures to be one of the strongest pieces on Atlanta’s offensive line in 2020, but it remains to be seen if 2019 was merely a blip due to the sorry state of the OL or a sign of an age-related decline. We shouldn’t be concerned about his play this season, but how well he performs will likely dictate if he receives an extension or is pushed towards retirement in 2021.