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Falcons’ Matt Gono highlights the payoff of Dan Quinn’s developmental mindset

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Finding quality offensive tackles is hard. If you can develop one, you’ve won the lottery.

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons have an interesting situation at right tackle. They’ve paid veteran Ty Sambrailo to be a “starter” even if he has not lived up to that billing this preseason. They drafted Kaleb McGary to be the future at the position, but his health has kept him from leaping ahead just yet. That has unexpectedly thrust Matt Gono into the spotlight, and as I recently opined, I believe he deserves to start the season as the starter at right tackle — at least until McGary can get to 100% and push for the job.

Gono is an interesting story, and Dan Quinn highlighted him as a prime example of the kind of player he looks for as part of his “Plan D” development initiative.

“His strength is rare. And his quickness for a 330 pounder is rare... So now, can we get the football there and in his case, we got the football there. ” - Dan Quinn

Matt Gono came out of Division III school Wesley as an undrafted free agent last year. You don’t see a lot of NFL caliber players coming out of Division III schools, but Gono was different. He had all the physical tools, but his technique and understanding of the game needed serious attention.

The Falcons opted to keep him on the 53-man roster and he was inactive for all 16 games. This decision was likely influenced by strong rumors that the Carolina Panthers were interested in putting him on their roster had the Falcons cut him.

This year, though, that decision appears to be paying off. As Dan Quinn noted, the strength and quickness wasn’t the issue. Getting Gono to a place where he was mentally football ready was the battle — and it appears Matt has made great strides since 2018. He had a mostly decent outing in the third preseason game and has looked good throughout camp. If he continues this trend, at worst he’ll be a quality swing tackle with the potential to be more. The Falcons have already noted they think he can slide inside to play guard as well. He could be a long-term option at left guard if Jamon Brown and James Carpenter fail to inspire confidence.

At minimum, the Falcons’ developmental mindset appears to be paying off with Gono — amongst other players. If he lives up to the potential, he could be one of the biggest finds of the Dan Quinn era.

What are your thoughts on Matt Gono and the developmental mindset of the Falcons?