In light of the news that rookie first-round tackle Kaleb McGary will miss some time due to a heart procedure, the Falcons depth at right tackle is now in flux. While it’s possible McGary will be back early in the season, it’s almost a certainty he’ll be gone the entire preseason and miss a game or two in the regular at minimum.
What does the team’s depth look like right now at right tackle? Let’s take a look.
Pencil Ty Sambrailo in as the starter
It’s important to note that Sambrailo has been getting the bulk of the first-team snaps at right tackle so far in training camp. While Dan Quinn noted that McGary was “pushing Sambrailo” a few days ago, I recently opined that the team is probably hesitant to start two rookies right next to each other from Day 1. That’s not to say that McGary wouldn’t have earned the job if he was a clear upgrade, but that point is now moot — at least for the time being.
As for Sambrailo, his career is the definition of inconsistent. He struggled early in his career due to a rash of injuries. In Atlanta, though, Sambrailo has been better, though not necessarily “good.” In relief of the struggling Ryan Schraeder last year, Sambrailo was serviceable. He’s not someone you necessarily bang the table for as a long-term starter, but he should suffice for now. I know it’s not glowing praise, but if he can repeat what he did to close out 2018, the Falcons should be OK for the time being.
After Sambrailo, the questions become bigger. On the Falcons’ depth chart, McGary was listed as the backup right tackle with Jaelin Robinson listed right behind him. Robinson is another player with intriguing potential who has been getting some extra looks in training camp. He is definitely a player to keep your eye on as the preseason progresses.
Although he’s listed as the backup left tackle, Matt Gono may also be an option at right tackle if the need presents itself. Another guy with big potential, Gono was stashed on the 53-man roster last year because of the interest that other teams had in signing him. It’s clear the Falcons like his long-term potential, so some snaps on the right side may be in order.
Finally, keep an eye on John Wetzel. The 28-year-old journeyman out of Boston College has the kind of size to play on the outside, even if he is listed as a backup offensive guard. He’s someone who has a lot of positional flexibility, and his years in the league may make him a more experienced option if some of the young guys aren’t ready yet. It would be interesting to have two Boston College guys protecting the right side of a fellow former Eagle, Matt Ryan.
The Falcons may still opt to look at who is still on the market as a free agent as well. I wouldn’t expect a big name signing, however, as the cap situation is tenuous as it is, without a reworked Julio Jones deal on the books. Yet, if they can find a veteran willing to play for the vet minimum, it may be a worthwhile investment. This option will probably also be heavily influenced by the outcome of the McGary procedure. If the team thinks he’ll be back relatively quickly, going to free agency for depth may not be necessary.
What are your thoughts on the situation at right tackle?