Since we last put together our 53 man roster projection, the Atlanta Falcons have signed a pair of former Washington offensive linemen, and both have the potential to significantly change how the line...well, lines up.
The first addition was Tyler Polumbus, and he's the less inspiring of the two. Like Jeremy Trueblood before him, Polumbus is a 30-year-old former Redskins tackle with a mixed track record of success. His signing clouds the pictures at right tackle, where Ryan Schraeder, Lamar Holmes and perhaps Sam Baker were already in the mix, but it would take everyone involved falling on their faces for Polumbus to win the job outright. He does give the Falcons a veteran presence who is familiar with Kyle Shanahan, at the very least.
Chris Chester changes things, however. Cut by Washington for cap savings reasons, Chester immediately becomes the most qualified pass protector on the roster at left guard, and the most likely choice for a starter at the position. His signing will push one of the guard options off the roster, and he should lock the position down for a year, if he's healthy. Chester isn't truly great, but he's competent, and once again he's familiar with Shanahan and his offense.
That means the picture has changed at guard, and by extension the offensive line. Players like Harland Gunn and Jared Smith are now long shots, and someone's certainly going to lose out at tackle. Let's take a look at my latest projection.
LT: Jake Matthews
LG: Chris Chester
C: Joe Hawley
RG: Jon Asamoah
RT: Ryan Schraeder
Reserves: Lamar Holmes, Mike Person, Tyler Polumbus, James Stone
Holmes over Sam Baker is where some eyebrows will be raised, but I do think the Falcons may look at Baker's health status and contract and decide it's the right time to cut ties. If that's the case, everything else sort of naturally falls into place from there.
This is a competent line with enough athleticism to function in Kyle Shanahan's zone blocking scheme, though it's unlikely to be a great one. As the Falcons try to return to relevance, competence will still be a decent start.