Continuing the countdown of the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, let’s break down the fourth best player in guard Jon Asamoah.
To read about the methodology in how these rankings came about, you can click here.
Total Score: 85.5/100
Last year’s rank: 6th
Player Grade: 72/100
Teams he is starter: 32 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 25 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 32 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +2
Positional Bonus: +3
When I finalized these rankings around three weeks ago, the notion that Asamoah was among the Falcons’ “elite” seemed abundant and obvious. Had someone claiming to have time-traveled from three weeks into the future and told me then that there was a chance that Asamoah would not be on the Falcons roster on opening day, I would have laughed in his/her face.
But alas, we find ourself at that juncture. Asamoah became one of the few free-agent signings made by the Falcons under the Mike Smith-Thomas Dimitroff regime that seemed to work in their favor. In fact prior to Asamoah’s arrival last season, the Falcons had been on a four-year drought in which all free agents they signed failed to live up to expectations.
In Asamoah’s case, those expectations were to solidify a right guard position that had been problematic for three consecutive years after the free-agent departure of Harvey Dahl in 2011. Asamoah certainly fulfilled and surpassed those expectations as he became the team’s most consistent and reliable blocker on a weekly basis in 2014.
Asamoah made his name over three years as a starter with the Kansas City Chiefs prior to his arrival working in their zone-blocking scheme. Prior to this year, the Falcons had traditionally run primarily a man-blocking scheme, which made some question whether Asamoah was an ideal fit in Atlanta last offseason.
But he answered those questions resoundingly. He got help from the fact that the Falcons incorporated much more movement in an adjusted man-blocking scheme, asking Asamoah to pull quite a bit. That took advantage of Asamoah’s athleticism and mobility to help clear room for Falcons’ runners.
Thus the team’s decision to move to a zone-blocking scheme this offseason under the guidance of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and former Seattle Seahawks assistant Chris Morgan, seemed like a perfect fit for a player like Asamoah as a throwback to what he did in Kansas City.
Yet, Asamoah lost his starting job to free-agent signee Chris Chester within a day of starting training camp. There could be a litany of reasons for it, but at the end of the day, one of the Falcons’ best players will likely be riding the bench this season should he stay in Atlanta.
Perhaps he could be retained as a very expensive insurance policy in case Chester or James Stone struggle at the outset of the season. But at age 27, Asamoah is in the midst of the prime of his career and might not want to spend any of it being a backup. That was partially what drove him from Kansas City, his attempt to seek greener pastures after he was benched midway through their 2013 season.
Despite two separate benchings from two different teams in the course of three years, that should not be seen as a reflection of Asamoah’s performance on the field. Anybody that pops on the tape immediately sees the ability that prompts his high ranking among the Falcons’ roster. His athleticism, toughness, footwork and technique are sharp and refined, making him one of the league’s premier interior blockers.
Even if both the Chiefs and Falcons were and are prepared to move on, it doesn’t mean that another team won’t be able to capitalize on that ability in 2015.