When the Falcons swapped a fifth round pick for Ty Sambrailo before the season, they seemed to be making a point of acquiring a player who could spend more than a single season as their swing tackle. That is somewhat of a departure for the Falcons, who have in recent years made swing tackle one of their afterthought positions, going with players as diverse (and ungood) as Bryce Harris, Lamar Holmes, and Jeremy Trueblood.
So it is safe to head into this offseason assuming that Sambrailo has a stranglehold on the swing tackle gig this year, as Austin Pasztor was behind him on the depth chart and is a free agent besides. It’s possible the team could draft a tackle, but we don’t yet know what their level of interest is, so we’ll file it away for later.
As Aaron Freeman at FalcFans notes, though, Sambrailo had a rough year for Atlanta, which has been part of a rough career to this point. He’s not even including the pass Sambrailo couldn’t catch, either.
Sambrailo has given up 11 sacks and 9 hits in 560 snaps as injury replacement/starting OT, which is roughly 9 games worth of snaps.— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) February 18, 2018
Meanwhile, worst pass protector in NFL (Breno Giacomini) gave up 9 sacks & 8 hits in 1095 snaps in 2017 #Falcons gotta upgrade
That’s pretty damning stuff, even if some of his worst performances easily came as a member of the Denver Broncos’ line, and even if you can pin a lot of those sacks on Vic Beasley. Sambrailo was fun as a run blocking tackle when he filled in for Schraeder, but his pass protection is (to be charitable) still a work in progress. Perhaps that improves with a full off-season with well-regarded offensive line coach Chris Morgan, but I wouldn’t necessarily bank on that.
For all that, Sambrailo is the presumptive swing tackle for any number of reasons heading into 2018. He is the only candidate currently under contract, the Falcons just surrendered a draft pick for him, and the team clearly would not have done so if they didn’t see something to the fairly athletic man they acquired. They used Sambrailo in some goal line packages, including that one memorable time as a receiver, and he got some run with Ryan Schraeder hurt, and Pasztor got bupkus. Unless the Falcons are about to throw us a huge curveball and use a Day 1 or Day 2 selection on a tackle, I very much doubt whoever they get in the building is going to have much of a shot to unseat Sambrailo in 2018.
The team would probably be wise to invest in player they like over the long haul, even if that player winds up being inactive all year like Sean Harlow was at guard in 2017. Sambrailo’s contract is up after 2018, and barring a huge turnaround in his level of play, the Falcons will once again be in the market for a new swing tackle. Whether he’s the best choice or not, though, I fully expect him to go into 2018 as the team’s swing tackle.