We’re a few weeks away from the official start of free agency, but the Falcons already made a couple of moves that could affect what they decide to do regarding the offensive line. Read on for Thursday’s edition of Falcoholinks.
Offensive Line Moves
We’re a bit over midway through the week, but there’s already been some major moves on Atlanta’s offensive line — with potential draft implications. Late Tuesday night the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reported that the Falcons would not be bringing back guard/defensive tackle Ben Garland.
This of course followed the news that the Falcons had inked swing tackle Ty Sambrailo to a three-year, $18 million deal. That’s quite the investment for an offensive lineman who primarily served in a reserve role, but did play well when given the opportunity to start over Ryan Schraeder. Sambrailo’s new deal indicates that he’s in line to start in 2019, and that Atlanta was not very keen on any early-round offensive tackles in the draft.
Of course, that could all change on draft day. And for that reason, Kevin took a microscope to some of the top OT prospects that could be a fit.
Career Windows, Continued
Our offseason series rolls on with a look at a pair of stalwarts in the secondary and a starting tight end.
Keanu Neal entered the league with absolute brute force when he was drafted with Atlanta’s first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Mill around YouTube for a bit and you’ll find a bunch of collections of Neal’s punishing hits (his sideline pop on Mike Evans is a personal favorite). A Pro Bowler in 2017, Neal’s third season ended before it began when he tore his ACL in the first game against Philadelphia. So what’s his future outlook in Atlanta? Bright.
Desmond Trufant’s overall career trajectory is a little less clear, but the details of his contract provide us some insight into what make take place over the next few seasons.
And then there’s Austin Hooper, the 2016 third-rounder out of Stanford. Hoop is fresh off of his first Pro Bowl appearance, one where he hauled in a touchdown for the NFC. Austin Hooper corrected many of the mistakes that plagued his game during his sophomore season to put together an excellent 2018, and figures to be a part of the Falcons for the foreseeable future.
Backup QB Options
Quarterback Matt Schaub has served as Matt Ryan’s primary backup since 2016, but at 38-years-old he’s likely seen the last of his days in an Atlanta uniform. So who could the Falcons turn to to fill the backup QB role? Well, they have 2018 undrafted free agent Kurt Benkert on the roster, but there are some other names to consider, as well.
Mel Kiper dropped the latest version of his 2018 mock draft this week, and the name most linked to the Falcons ... ends up with the Falcons.