Now that free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draft are (mostly) behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at the Atlanta Falcons’ roster heading in to the summer. Outside of a few additions and subtractions here and there in the course of training camp and the preseason, this is the roster Atlanta will be working with during the 2022 season.
We’ll kick things off with a look at the projected starters and players competing for those spots. Next up is the offensive line. Arguably the weakest unit on the roster in 2021, the Falcons have left the starting group intact and made very few impact additions. Two signings came at tackle in Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson, along with a sixth-round rookie guard in Justin Shaffer.
Next up is 2021 3rd-rounder and returning left guard starter Jalen Mayfield.
G Jalen Mayfield
Contract: $1.18M cap hit in 2022, rookie contract through 2024
Career Production: 16 games played, 16 games started | 989 snaps played, 9 penalties, 11 sacks allowed | 49.2 overall PFF grade
2021 Production: Same as above
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 3rd Round (68th overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2021-present)
The Falcons had two massive holes on the offensive line heading in to the 2021 season: left guard and center. Veterans had previously manned both spots, and Atlanta would be turning to younger and more affordable players due to significant cap constraints. Jalen Mayfield was drafted in the third round out of Michigan to compete right away at left guard. A high-upside conversion project who only played a handful of seasons at right tackle, the thought was that Mayfield would get to work on the position switch in camp and compete with veteran Josh Andrews for the starting job. Unfortunately, that plan was derailed almost immediately by a set of unfortunate circumstances.
Kaleb McGary, the longtime incumbent at right tackle, wound up missing almost the entirety of training camp. With swing tackle Matt Gono on PUP, that meant Mayfield had to move back to right tackle. Mayfield got very few reps on the interior before being thrust into the starting lineup at left guard in Week 1, a position he would man for the entirety of the season. It was not a recipe for success for Mayfield, who was abysmal in pass protection and finished with a poor 49.2 overall PFF grade as a rookie.
There are certainly reasons to expect improvement from Mayfield in 2022. He was a rookie playing a completely new position and on a different side of the offensive line with extremely limited preparation. Also, considering his level of play, there’s really nowhere to go but up for Mayfield. He clearly has the confidence of the coaching staff, who have brought in little-to-no competition on the interior. As it stands now, we simply have to hope for a big second-year leap for Mayfield—or left guard could once again be the weakest position on the offensive line.
Projection: Jalen Mayfield is the incumbent starter at left guard and the favorite to retain the job in training camp. After an abysmal rookie season, the coaching staff is seemingly expecting a big jump in performance from the second-year player with a year of experience at guard under his belt.