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Can Falcons 'Big People Mover' Justin Shaffer Start His Rookie Year?

The Georgia Bulldog could plug right into the starting left guard spot.

The Atlanta Falcons needed to address the offensive line during the NFL Draft, and they did so in the sixth round, selecting Georgia guard Justin Shaffer.

Justin Shaffer
Justin Shaffer
Jalen Mayfield Atlanta Falcons

Shaffer started all 15 games for the Bulldogs during their National Championship run, and his experience in high-profile games should certainly help the Falcons offensive line.

Senior Bowl Director Jim Nagy described him as a "big people mover" and stated that he should be a popular pick among local fans.

During training camp, he'll be in direct competition with 2021 third-round pick Jalen Mayfield for the starting left guard job.

Shaffer has some inconsistencies with his hands, and can be hit or miss in pass protection. His game aligns similarly to Mayfield’s in regards to being a better run than pass blocker, so it’s difficult to say that Atlanta really improved with the Shaffer pick.

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It’s also important to note who else was on the board at the time - Shaffer’s Georgia teammate, Jamaree Salyer. While Salyer played left tackle in college, he’ll likely transition to guard in the NFL. He brings more versatility to the table, taking snaps at all five offensive line positions and was viewed as a better prospect than Shaffer throughout this cycle.

Justin Shaffer

Ultimately, Shaffer was a sixth-round pick because his tape at Georgia implied that he was a scheme-specific prospect who would struggle against quicker athletes. The interesting part is the scheme that most thought he’d fit best in - a power-gap scheme - isn’t the one he’ll be entering in Atlanta.

Shaffer’s physicality and ability to move defensive lineman against their will is a much-needed addition to the Falcons offensive line, though he’s not a seamless fit. However, considering the stage of the draft Atlanta selected him, it’s difficult to fault the team too much.

When drafting on Day 3, you have to go with players who are low-risk, high-reward options. If Shaffer doesn't pan out, the team will move on to the next guy, but if he does, the Falcons will have one less problem on their hands.