The Falcons have been going through some difficult transitions since the team’s inception, most recently the rebuild the brain trust decided it needed to launch into part of the way through the 2022 offseason. Things have been downhill since the Super Bowl we don’t talk about anymore, and that is best illustrated by the current state of the offensive line.
The 2016 team was able to rely on a stout offensive line of Jake Matthews, Andy Levitre, Alex Mack, Chris Chester, and Ryan Schraeder. The mixture of acquired veterans and home-grown talent proved to be a team strength, helping to establish a record-breaking offense.
Only one of those players remains with the Atlanta Falcons: left tackle Jake Matthews. Replacing the other four has been extremely difficult for the Falcons. Former first-round pick Chris Lindstrom has finally settled the right guard spot. The problem comes elsewhere, as former first-round pick Kaleb McGary has failed to show he can be effective at right tackle. Former third-round pick Matt Hennessy has shown some consistency in two seasons but remains far from a strength.
Left guard Jalen Mayfield frequently looked like one of the worst blockers in the NFL last year. Quite literally the worst, per some pass blocking metrics. The Falcons have a very strong presence at the very bottom of this list.
To get a sense of where teams might still have holes, if we took the current 5 projected starters on Ourlads at face value, here are the 20 lowest starters (out of 160) in projected pass protection grade.— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) May 11, 2022
There are a lot of teams hoping for jumps from young RTs pic.twitter.com/kOoCqdrIMb
Out of 160 projected NFL starters, McGary comes in at 152nd, Hennessy at 155th, and Mayfield at 160th. The Falcons have the unique privilege of being the only team with three players in the bottom 20.
While these players are only the projected starters, meaning any of the three could be replaced in the lineup, there is not much clear competition. Atlanta’s depth chart is full of question marks, like Drew Dalman at center, Germain Ifedi at right tackle, and sixth-round rookie Justin Shaffer at left guard.
In sum, fans (and whatever poor soul is under center) will need to hope for drastic improvements from McGary, Mayfield, and Hennessy, or wait until at least 2023 for offensive line help.