We always knew that guard was going to be the biggest weakness on the offensive line this season for Atlanta, and given that they’re starting Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder at tackle and Alex Mack at center, we all figured we could live with that.
Your early favorites were Andy Levitre and Chris Chester, who were (average at best) starters in 2015. The rest of the players in the mix were journeymen and unproven guys, so you could forgive yourself for looking past them and toward the veterans, as I did. But with the third preseason game looming, we’ve got a legitimate wrinkle, and it comes in the form of Wes Schweitzer.
Quinn on battle at right guard: "It's alive." Said both Wes Schweitzer and Chris Chester "have risen to challenge" pic.twitter.com/1kmEmTEG3l— FalconsKelsey (@FalconsKelsey) August 22, 2016
Schweitzer, as you’ll recall, was drafted in the sixth round of this year’s draft and was the first “who is this guy?” of the class. There was plenty of early praise for his technical ability, but projecting him to step in as a starter was a bit much, I thought. Here we are, though, with Schweitzer apparently legitimately competing with Chester and having just played 61 snaps against the Browns, a game where the offensive line was legitimately impressive. I’m no longer dismissing his chances, even if I still think Chester’s going to ultimately win this thing.
As is the case at linebacker, where I’ve repeatedly said I’d like to see both Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell starting, inserting Schweitzer would give the Falcons a long look at a potential cheap, long-term starting option at a position of need, and I’m willing to shrug off some growing pains if the Falcons think he can grow into a starting role. No one wants to see the Falcons throw away the season for the sake of youth, but given their alternatives at linebacker and guard, this may not be a bad play.
As D. Orlando Ledbetter notes, this raises questions about Mike Person (who I’ve blown hot and cold on all offseason) and his roster spot with Ben Garland also pushing for a spot. More importantly, though, it could signal the new future of the right guard position a lot sooner than any of us might have expected.