Swing tackle is wide open. I’ve said this multiple times, but it remains as true now as it was in April. There’s no obvious favorite on the roster, and with the recent conversion of DJ Tialavea from tight end to tackle, there are a ton of contenders.
And yet this entire time, I’ve felt that Andreas Knappe is the favorite. That might have something to do with the fact that the team made him a priority immediately after making their final draft selection, or the fact that he has arguably the best combination of physical tools and quickness on the roster. But it may also be because the first Danish-born player since Morten Andersen is also very fun to root for, in the interest of full disclosure.
Knappe was a 25 game starter for UConn, starting every game at right tackle each of his last two seasons with the program, where he gained a reputation as a mauling run blocker. The Falcons took enough of an interest in him that they got on the horn with him after their last fifth round pick and made him one of their first UDFA signings, for what that’s worth.
To make the roster, Knappe has to not only beat out his fellow UDFAs and Tialavea, but prove he’d be better than a veteran off the street. That’s a tall order, especially for a team accustomed to scooping up the Jeremy Truebloods and Tom Comptons of the world to serve as a swing tackle, but Knappe certainly has the talent to do it. He just needs to prove he belongs here in August.
If Knappe (or Will Freeman, or Daniel Brunskill, or Tialavea) wins, he’ll give the Falcons a vital asset as a young, cheap backup at a key position. Once we get to game action on Thursday night, we’ll have a better idea of how good he looks so far, but he’s the early favorite because of these factors. Whether that slight edge winds up meaning a job for him remains to be seen.