The New York Giants have a pair of pressing needs on their offensive line. The obvious one is at right tackle, where they don’t have a clear starter for the 2020 season. The other is at center, where they are dealing with injuries and are in need of an upgrade.
The question, of course, is what kind of blocking scheme the Giants will run in 2020. New offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has historically favored a power-based, man-gap blocking scheme as the Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator and head coach. However, Dallas has run zone blocking schemes during his tenure when others were calling the plays.
If the Giants decide to use a zone blocking scheme in 2020, they could look to draft Matt Hennessy of Temple to be their long term answer at the center position. Hennessy has risen up draft boards as more and more people have gotten a good look at his tape.
Prospect: Matt Hennessy (C, Temple)
Games Watched: vs. Maryland (2018), vs. Boston College (2018), vs. SMU (2019), vs. North Carolina (2019)
Red Flags: none
Best: Football IQ, athleticism, technique, competitive toughness
Worst: Size, arm length, play strength
Projection: A starting center in a zone blocking scheme that favors athletic linemen.
Temple’s Matt Hennessy is a smart, athletic, and technically sound center prospect. Hennessy shows good initial athleticism, getting the snap off crisply and hands into a ready position quickly. He generally plays with a wide base and good hip and knee bend to provide consistent pad level.
Hennessy is a dependable pass protector, easily moving to mirror interior rushers attacking either A-gap. He has good range as well, at times mirroring defenders out to the C-gap. Hennessy shows good hand usage, not hesitating to throw his punch and consistently seeking to gain inside leverage on defenders. Once latched on, he shows good grip strength and works to sustain his blocks through the whistle.
Hennessy shows good upside in zone schemes, where he is able to use his athleticism and mobility to get defenders moving laterally. Likewise his awareness and football IQ let him pick up defenders easily as they enter his zone of responsibility.
He is also a good player in space. Hennessy’s athleticism is an asset in the screen game, as he is easily able to get in front of plays and stay there for some time. He is also capable as a pulling center or playing off of combo blocks to the second level, moving easily and fluidly to block linebackers and safeties. Hennessy shows great competitive toughness to hustle downfield and works to sustain his blocks through the whistle.
Hennessy can struggle when matched up on 0-technique nose tackles, as he doesn’t have the functional strength to win the rep early when he isn’t able to win the initial leverage battle. His need to win with leverage shows up in both run blocking and pass protection, as he can struggle to hold up against powerful bull rushes if his initial anchor fails.
Overall Grade: 6.6 - Has the traits to be a starter as a rookie, but also has some schematic limitations. A late Day 1 or early Day 2 value.
[Grading Scale - Note, this specific grade is not listed. Hennessy is not a boom/bust prospect, but he does have some schematic limitations and while becoming a Top 10 player at his position isn’t out of the question, it is a bit much to expect]
Matt Hennessy projects best as a starting center in a zone blocking scheme. His athleticism, football IQ, awareness, and competitive toughness make him a candidate to start as a rookie in the right blocking scheme.
Hennessy is technically refined for a rookie prospect, which bodes well for his transition to the NFL. He consistently gets his hands in good position on blockers, with inside leverage to complement his good pad level. Hennessy is capable of standing up to bigger defensive tackles when he plays with good leverage, and he shows active feet and good leg drive to create movement at the line of scrimmage when he wins the initial battle.
Hennessy has some issues with play strength and can be pushed into the backfield if he isn’t able to anchor against a lineman’s initial rush. He should continue to try to add functional strength as he makes his transition to the NFL. However, teams should be wary of asking him to gain more mass, as that could compromise the athleticism that is at the core of his game.
Though he wore number 58 on the field, Hennessy was voted to receive one of the coveted single digit numbers by his teammates. At Temple, only the toughest players on the team receive single digits, and coaches will likely fall in love with Hennessy’s competitive toughness and football IQ.