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A brief history of first round OTs: Should the Falcons take Penei Sewell?

The Falcons could go BPA and take the best offensive tackle in this year’s draft.

The Atlanta Falcons are in an interesting spot this year as they currently hold the No. 4 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. They could go quarterback, they could trade down, and technically they could also move up, even if we don’t expect it.

With several options on the board, we’re taking a look at the recent history of specific positions that have been selected in round one. We’ve already looked at how quarterbacks and running backs have fared. It’s time to take a look at the offensive tackle position.

Below is every offensive tackle taken in the first round since 2014:

2014:

2015:

2016:

2017

  • Garett Bolles, Denver Broncos (20)
  • Ryan Ramczyk, New Orleans Saints (32)

2018

2019

2020


The offensive tackle position is one of the most underrated in football. It’s impact on the game often goes ignored by the fans, but good teams invest in their offensive line. Overall as you can see from the list above, offensive tackles in the first round have panned out relatively well over the last 7 years.

Several of those offensive tackles selected since 2014 remain anchors on the NFL team’s that drafted them. The Falcons have made two such selections, taking Jake Matthews in 2014 and Kaleb McGary in 2019. Matthews has remained a reliable left tackle for quarterback Matt Ryan throughout the years. McGary, although still early in his NFL career, has the potential to lock down right tackle even if he hasn’t consistently done so since 2019.

This year, the Falcons at pick No. 4 possibly have the opportunity to select what several experts are labeling a “generational prospect” in Penei Sewell. Sewell is extremely talented and figures to be a plug and play starter due to his flexibility, strength, intelligence and balance, while also showing the instincts he’ll need to become a great.

The question then would be, where do the Falcons play him? Although he’s an offensive tackle, the team does have a need at left guard where the future is uncertain. Sewell could start off his career inside next to Matthews and eventually take over the outside role down the road. With the Falcons recently hiring an offensive-minded head coach who has spent many years with offensive lineman, including college where he played guard, having a dominant offensive lineman out of the gate is something worth considering.