As we mentioned the other day, the guard market is pretty much cleared out of great options. That doesn’t mean no one is left.
Realistically, the Falcons will need to go guard in the first or second round to get an immediate starter, unless there’s a deep sleeper they love that I’m not aware of. If they’d rather use that draft capital toward an edge rusher and a defensive tackle, they’ll need to at least add veteran competition at guard for Wes Schweitzer, and that’s why this discussion is relevant right now.
The good news is that there are names! The bad news is that there are only a couple of players on this list that I’d feel confident starting for a contender in the year 2017, but perhaps I’m missing someone that you guys are keyed on.
One of the better Jets ever—hold your jokes—Mangold only probably has a couple of decent seasons left in him at this point. He has traditionally been a center, but would slot in at guard in Atlanta if the Falcons were to come calling.
I like Mangold chiefly because he still moves pretty well, is capable of solid pass protection, and run blocks effectively. That’s more or less the skill set someone needs to be a quality fit for the Falcons—or frankly any team—and I’m doubtful his market is going to get all that hot.
He was once one of the NFL’s best guards, but his play and his ability to stay on the field have slipped a little bit in recent years, and he only played in four games in 2016. You’d be gambling on his health and continued effectiveness at age 35, and that is a big gamble to take. He announced his retirement, but some think he could be convinced to return.
He had poor games, but honestly, the Falcons got about as much bang for their free agent buck out of Chester as any player they signed over the last two seasons. If he’s willing to come back, I’d be happy to have him back as a stopgap starter or at least strong veteran competition.
Chiefly a tackle, Pasztor is only 26 years old, started 16 games last season, and can move well enough to make this thing work. If he’s not expensive—and I can’t imagine he would be—he might be the guy I’d pursue if Chester’s bowing out.
This is sort of reaching the bottom of the potential starting guard market. Giacomini has plenty of starting experience, especially at tackle, but is coming off a back injury that got him released and has never been a top-flight player.
Anyways, the Falcons should draft a guard.