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2017 NFL Draft: Is this really a weak guard class?

It kind of is, but not if you aim high.

Indiana v Northwestern

One of the big reasons Bill Barnwell elected to have the Falcons move down from #31 to #54 in his latest, trade-filled mock draft was that this is a weak guard class. We don’t know if the Falcons are dead set on a guard at #31, but either way, it raises an interesting question. Does this class deserve that reputation?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not a barren year, even so. Forrest Lamp is a tremendous player, Dorian Johnson could be a great guard at the next level, and Dan Feeney is pretty much an ideal zone guard. Dion Dawkins and Ethan Pocic could be nice pros, as well. From there you’re looking at players like Taylor Moton and Pat Elfein who some teams may view as a tackle and center, respectively, and there’s no surefire starters after that.

That doesn’t make it a particularly unusual class, and it is not on the level of the disastrous 2012 class at center, where Peter Konz was more or less the consensus best player available and there was very little after him. It just puts pressure on teams looking for a surefire solution to go get one early, and Lamp is still the obvious standout to me.

I firmly believe Lamp, Johnson, and Feeney are all immediate starters, while Dawkins, Pocic, and Moton could be if they land on the right teams. It’s pretty obvious that if you’re not willing to go for a guard in the first two rounds—when I’d expect at least the first three names I mentioned to be gone—you’re taking a shot on upside and fit rather than definite impact players.

Atlanta is still extremely likely to land a guard, and to do so early. But if you’re one of the many Falcons fans counting on a rookie to step in and take over for (or even upgrade upon) Chris Chester, things could get a little dicey as quickly as pick #63.