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Ranking the Falcons 2014: No. 17 Joe Hawley

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Hawley

I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 17th-ranked player: center Joe Hawley.

To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.

Total Score: 60/100

Last year’s rank: 26
Player Grade: 53/100
Teams he is starter: 11 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 10 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 32 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +4
Positional Bonus: +3

No different than teammate Peter Konz, 2014 will mark a very important season in the career of Joe Hawley.

It will be his first legitimate opportunity to hold down the Falcons’ starting center spot after spending most of the past two years looking over Konz’s shoulder.

Hawley stepped in over the final seven games of 2013 as the team’s starting center after the Falcons grew tired of Konz’s poor play. While Hawley wasn’t great, he played mostly well and was one of the few blockers that left positive feelings from his performance in 2013.

The goal will be for Hawley to pick up where he left off (although not exactly where he left off) from a year ago and continue solid to strong play in 2014.

It’s one thing to be an upgrade over one of the league’s worst centers for seven games, and it’s another to show that you can play at a relatively high level for a full slate of 16 games.

Hawley re-signed with the Falcons this past offseason on a two-year contract. And if he doesn’t play well this year, it will be harder for the Falcons to justify his return in 2015 with a cap hit of $4 million. It’s not an exorbitant figure, but it’s a lot more than a team would prefer to pay for a starting center who is not producing.

Years ago when Justin Tuck labeled the Falcons offensive line a bunch of dirt bags, it was likely Hawley that was the primary cause of that reputation.

With a penchant for playing beyond the whistle, Hawley has shown that he’s an able run blocker, but needs to solidify his pass protection.

Hawley turns 26 in October, and potentially could have a long career ahead of him if he can elevate his play to that next level.

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Author: Aaron Freeman

Aaron is the founder of FalcFans.com.

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