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Rams, Eagles, Giants, Jets among those who could be fighting for Matt Hennessy

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The Temple center seems to be getting more popular as the draft approaches

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In Tuesday’s “Who is your dream pick for the LA Rams” article, one name came up more than any other in the comments section: Hennessy. Okay, let’s create a space to talk about Temple center Matt Hennessy before Friday’s day two of the NFL draft.

After all, he’s been the topic of conversation at Turf Show Times well before Tuesday.

There was an even more in-depth breakdown of Hennessy here at TST in January written by Ferragamo15 in the fanposts section, which of course happened before the combine. He highlighted Hennessy’s “quickness” as a reason for optimism:

Size Measurements (at Senior Bowl)

6’4’’ tall, 302 pounds, 32 3/8’’ arms, 79 5/8’’ wingspan, 10 1/8’’ hands

Hennessy has an odd looking build for an interior offensive lineman. He looks to me almost like a big TE. Some people have compared him to Jason Kelce, the athletic center for the Eagles.

And continuing on down the page ...

Summary: 3rd round grade. I think Hennessy is a better prospect than Ethan Pocic (2nd rd Seahawks 2017). I would take him ahead of Nick Martin (2nd round Texans 2016). Martin recently got an $11 million per year deal from the Texans.

I understand some of the Kelce comparisons, because Hennessy is an athletic player who has little power. He could be a polarizing prospect in NFL draft rooms, because there is both a reasonable argument that he is as good a prospect as Garrett Bradbury last year (the 18th overall pick) or that he’s a 6th round pick like Kelce was, because he’s really just a taller, longer version of Austin Blythe (I wouldn’t agree with that, because I think he should be a much better pass blocker compared to Blythe).

Some aspects remind you of Max Unger (6’5’’, 309 pounds, 32.5’’ arms, 4.5 sec shuttle), but Unger had more power, more lower body mass, so I’m not convinced that the ceiling is as high as Unger (who was taken in the 2nd round 2009).

As Michael Peterson wrote about Hennessy last month after an impressive combine:

Hennessy was a pleasant surprise during Friday’s offensive line workouts a lesser known player out of Temple. He’s spent the weeks leading up to the combine training with some of the best prospects under the watchful eye of heralded offensive line coach Duke Manyweather and it showed during the on-field drills and his impressive agility numbers. Hennessy finished second among the entire offensive line group in both the 3-cone drill and the short shuttle, posting a 7.45 and 4.60, respectively.

Hennessy did not give up a sack over 828 snaps last season and allowed only four pressures in 2019, with a total of 14 pressures over his three years at Temple, as outlined in this breakdown by NY Sports MC on YouTube:

That YouTuber also mentions that Hennessy’s brother Thomas has been the long-snapper for the New York Jets since 2017, a potential connection between that team and this prospect. Another New York connection being that Hennessy is a die-hard Giants fan and that team too has been connected to him throughout the process.

It sounds as though at least one team gave Hennessy a second round grade back in January, with the rest of the teams that checked in looking at him more in the middle of the draft, and that he entered with the belief that he could improve his stock, as written by Ferragamo.

That seems to have been the case.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer — Hennessy did meet with the Philadelphia Eagles over Zoom, who have pick 53, one spot after the Rams first pick — he’s mentioned as a “second or third round pick” and that NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks now sees him as the fourth-rated interior lineman.

“We’re getting a better idea [of his draft position] and of course a million things could change between now and then, but as of right now it looks like, I am pretty confident, somewhere in the second round,” Hennessy said.

That would not be too surprising to me, if only for the fact that I believe center is the most underrated position and that teams seem more likely to “reach” above the projected draft position for many players along the offensive line. Who knows if it will be a reach of talent disparity or simply a poor evaluation by the media, but it seems like that “round 5-7” grade by WalterFootball is going to be off by quite a lot.

Will the LA Rams be the team to make that call and will they feel compelled to do it before the Eagles — the former home of Jason Kelce himself — make the pick themselves? Will Philly or the Rams be looking to move up because of that close proximity to their picks? There’s also Matt Rhule, Hennessy’s former college coach at Temple and the current head coach for the Carolina Panthers; Carolina has picks 38 and 69 on day two, so they’d either need to take Hennessy early in the second round or trade down — but not too far down — to select him ahead of LA.

The Giants pick 36th and the Jets pick 48th.