Terry Fontenot used very limited resources in his first NFL Draft running the show for the Atlanta Falcons snagging a 6-foot-5, 320-pound blocker to fix Atlanta’s bad left guard spot. Could the former Michigan tackle move inside and develop into a top guard?
We still don’t know. Mayfield, widely believed to be a project, was thrust into the starting spot by the first snap of the 2021 season thanks to a preseason injury to presumed starter Josh Andrews. Mayfield, playing an astounding 99% of the offensive snaps in 2021, struggled mightily. Guard is a tough spot to learn, he’s switching positions, he’s a rookie — you would expect the struggles.
2022 was a chance to bounce back. It never happened thanks to injuries. Mayfield was placed on injured reserve back on September 1st due to a non-descript back injury. The team never gave us a good read on the extent of his injury, leaving us fumbling around for a firm grasp on his chance to return. Mayfield returned to practice on November 16th but said he needed a few weeks of conditioning to get to playing shape.
That may not have happened as Mayfield missed his window to officially return.
The 21-day practice window deadline for Falcons OL Jalen Mayfield (back) came and went today without him being activated.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) December 7, 2022
So Jalen Mayfield goes back to IR, won't be returning and is done for the year.
While this is bad news for Mayfield, who lost his entire sophomore season, what is even worse is all of his replacements have looked good. The Falcons have gotten much better performances from Matt Hennessy, Chuma Edoga, Elijah Wilkinson, and to a lesser extent, Colby Gossett.
Mayfield will hopefully return to form and show some real improvement. However, players who have faced similar situations have faced very long odds of turning things around. We will find out in 2023.