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2018 let downs: Ryan Schraeder went from great starter to sitting on the bench

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This once top starter found himself riding the pine by the end of the year.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the Falcons starters who saw their performance take a step backward in 2018, none may have been more frustrating than that of right tackle Ryan Schraeder. Coming into the year, the bookends of Jake Matthews and Schraeder was arguably one of the better duos in the league. Schraeder had been consistently ranked as a high quality starter by PFF and his play on the field easily reflected that. This year, though, was arguably his worst since his first year in the league.

The undrafted free agent out of Valdosta State joined the team in 2013 and worked his way onto the roster. In 2014, he began a four year stretch of very good play at right tackle, which earned him a new contract in 2016. This year, though, his PFF score of 63.6 was his second worst season grade ever. He ranks 55th (out of 61) in PFFs blocking and allowed pressures metrics.

Now, one bad season does not a career make, but Schraeder will turn 31 this year, raising questions about whether this season was an anomaly or whether this decline is a permanent one. I’m holding out hope that he will turn the corner in 2020, but being benched at the end of this season was a strong signal of what the coaching staff thought about his play this year.

To be clear, Schraeder should get the chance in 2019 to compete in camp for that starting position. You simply can’t ignore his entire body of work based on this one poor season. That said, I don’t think he is guaranteed a spot as a starter, especially given his season-ending benching. If he can’t confidently secure that spot in 2019, the team could look to move on from him, bringing an end to one of the Falcons feel good stories of the past several years.