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Falcons draft Syracuse OL Matthew Bergeron after trading up to pick 38

The Falcons snag help for the offensive line with their second round pick.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 04 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Falcons have indeed moved up in the second round, as we thought they might, in order to snag a player they clearly coveted. The player was not necessarily one I think anyone suspected would be the choice, however, as the Falcons are landing Syracuse tackle Matthew Bergeron with the No. 38 pick.

The Falcons traded picks 44 and 110 to move up and get Bergeron, a player who is expected to move to guard at the next level but could be in play at tackle down the line. He comes into the NFL with a reputation for being a quality athlete and a stellar run blocker—surprise, surprise—and as a player who needs work on his pass protection. Bergeron will be, I feel confident saying, the starting left guard for the Falcons in 2023 so long as he stays healthy and shows well this summer.

The appeal here should be obvious. A team that is expected to run a lot and run well still had an outsized hole at left guard, where converted center Matt Hennessy, fresh-off-a-back-injury option Jalen Mayfield, and 2022 sixth round pick Justin Shaffer were in play for the role. The Falcons have shown they can coax solid enough play out of lesser options at that spot, but last year injury made it a carousel and the team clearly wanted to give themselves a legitimate upgrade there. Bergeron should be it, especially blocking for Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, and Cordarrelle Patterson.

The knocks on his protection come as a left tackle in Syracuse’s offense, so the hope will be that moving him inside will hide those flaws somewhat while he develops. The Falcons are big believers in Dwayne Ledford, so they’re likely feeling confident that Bergeron will improve in that regard as time goes on, especially if they might mull a future move for tackle.

The Falcons now have their starting five along the offensive line, with Jake Matthews at left tackle, Bergeron at left guard, Drew Dalman at center, Chris Lindstrom at right guard, and Kaleb McGary at right tackle. The Falcons endured some growing pains from Dalman last year at center and started quite a few players at left guard, so this line has a chance to take a substantial step forward in 2023.

In the here and now, though, Bergeron should be a plus addition for this potentially dominant ground game and a young, talented lineman who might develop into a terrific long-term option at left guard. The Falcons continue to prioritize their offense, and if Bergeron can help them go from fun and interesting to dominant and frightening, he’ll be worth the draft capital the team surrendered to get him.