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Falcons hiring Louisville OC Dwayne Ledford as OL coach

Instead of poaching his staff in Tennessee to fill the position, Arthur Smith has pilfered a new coach from the college rank who once coached...Arthur Smith.

Louisville v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

The Falcons have been quickly filling their coaching staff out in recent days, and one of the biggest remaining pieces of the puzzle was offensive line coach. It was a given that Arthur Smith was going to make a change there, given that Chris Morgan had spent six seasons in Atlanta under three different offensive coordinators but was not one of Smith’s guys, and our eyes kept going to Tennessee.

Smith and the Falcons have thrown a curveball, however, as they’re hitting the college ranks to fill the vacancy. The new offensive line coach is Louisville offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford, a former NFL center who played for the 49ers, Jaguars, Panthers, and Browns from 1999-2005. He also coached Arthur Smith.

Ledford has extensive experience as an offensive line coach, but not at the NFL level. He was an offensive line intern with the now-defunct Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe before moving in to an offensive line coaching role full-time in high school, in East Carolina, and then Gardner-Webb and Appalachian State. He was the co-offensive coordinator for Appalachian State for three years, jumped to offensive line coach at North Carolina State, and finally spent the last two years as the offensive coordinator at Louisville. In 2019 that offense averaged 33 points and in 2020 it averaged nearly 30, and Louisville produced top offensive line pick Mekhi Becton with Ledford at the helm of the offense.

It’s fair to say he’s got a long track record in this role, in other words, and his experience as an offensive coordinator may be useful to a young offensive staff. We’ll hope he can do quality work with a line that needs some upgrading this offseason, but obviously it’s hard to know exactly what to expect with a coach making the leap from college to the NFL for the first time, even one with NFL experience as an offensive lineman.