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.
After taking a look at the projected starters, we now turn our attention to the depth on the Falcons’ roster. Today, I’ll be discussing QB Kurt Benkert—a developmental player who’s been with Atlanta since 2018.
QB Kurt Benkert
Contract: $610K cap hit in 2020, ERFA in 2021
Career Production: 5 games played | 47/98 (47.9% completion percentage) for 559 yards (5.7 YPA), 1 TD, 4 INT (Preseason)
2019 Production: 1 game played | 19/34 (55.8% completion percentage) for 185 yards (5.4 YPA), 1 TD (Preseason)
Previous Teams: UDFA signed by the Atlanta Falcons (2018-present)
The Falcons have long been searching—unsuccessfully, I might add—for a young, developmental backup to groom behind Matt Ryan. Sean Renfree, Dominique Davis, and a whole bunch of forgettable UDFAs have come and gone without much in the way of positive production. In recent years, the Falcons shifted to more reliable veteran options, like T.J. Yates and Matt Schaub. However, Atlanta may have finally found a young QB with enough potential to stick around long-term: Virginia’s Kurt Benkert.
Benkert started his college career at East Carolina before getting hurt and losing his starting job. He transferred to Virginia and took over the starting role in 2016, where he posted solid numbers: 2552 yards and 21 TDs to 11 INTs. Benkert improved even more upon those numbers in 2017, hitting career highs in every category with 3207 passing yards and 25 TDs to just 9 INTs. His 25 TDs led the ACC in 2017 and were 5th in the NCAA overall. However, Virginia was never particularly good while Benkert was there, and he finished with just an 8-15 overall record.
Benkert received significant NFL interest despite his win/loss record because of his good size, solid athleticism, and impressive arm strength. He’s got a cannon and can deliver the ball anywhere on the field, though his accuracy was not always consistent. When he joined the Falcons, his flaws were apparent during a very up-and-down 2018 preseason. Benkert struggled in his first NFL action and tossed 4 INTs in 4 games.
However, Benkert remained on the practice squad and once again got an opportunity to compete in 2019. He played significant snaps in the Hall of Fame game, and looked to be leading Atlanta towards a victory over the Broncos before suffering a season-ending foot injury. In that game—despite taking 3 sacks—Benkert looked far more in-control and completed his first-ever NFL TD. We won’t get to see Benkert compete in a preseason this year, but if he continues to develop his game and impresses the coaching staff, we could see him take over the QB2 job very soon.
Projection: Kurt Benkert is an intriguing developmental option at QB, but we’ve seen too little of him to determine whether he can take control of the QB2 job in 2020. With no preseason, limited practice, and uncertainty due to COVID-19, Benkert is likely ticketed for another season on the practice squad. With Schaub’s advancing age (and price), Benkert could have a real opportunity to take over the backup job as early as 2021.