Justin Blalock will probably watch the NFL draft just like the rest of us. Chilled malt beverage in hand, beef jerky and cheese puffs by his side, drooling in expectation. But unlike the rest of us, this draft has major implications for him. It won't only affect the overall effectiveness of his unit, it may signal the end of his time with the Falcons.
Don't get me wrong, the Falcons aren't looking to draft Blalock's immediate replacement. If the Falcons take a guard in the first two rounds, I'll literally throw Dave's dog off a bridge, then drive off on my Harley. But if they take either Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson with the sixth overall pick, it may expedite Blalock's departure.
Consider Blalock's contract. We've been over these numbers before, but here's the bottom line: while his cap hit exceeds $7 million in 2016, Blalock would represent less than $1 million in dead money if the Falcons cut him following the 2015 season. By then, he will be 33 years old. If he continues to hover around that good-but-not-elite level, and particularly if he regresses at all, that kind of cap hit is cost prohibitive. With a left side anchored by a franchise left tackle, the Falcons may feel more comfortable letting Blalock walk.
This scenario I'm envisioning assumes that Robinson or Matthews successfully transition to the NFL. Not an unlikely scenario, but not a given nonetheless. It also assumes the Falcons
stop putting Matt Ryan in harm's way find someplace to put Sam Baker.