Falcons center Alex Mack #51 prepares to snap the ball during the second half against the Packers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 17, in Atlanta
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Falcons’ OL draft record is not sterling

How will they fix the offensive line this offseason 

Picking 14th in the draft, the Falcons will not be in position to draft the next Quenton Nelson, the stellar guard whom the Colts selected out of Notre Dame last season.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard is getting executive of the year votes after picking Nelson and improving their offensive line.

The Falcons will seek to improve their offensive line this offseason as head coach Dan Quinn said he’s only comfortable with the center and left tackle positions.

The Falcons have done poorly with drafting linemen under general manager Thomas Dimitroff. The Falcons have had more success trading for proven commodities or signing  players in free agency.

It will wise to monitor if the Falcons and other teams will scout the Alliance of America Football league play more closely for the development of offensive line.

The Falcons and the rest of the league have had trouble developing linemen because of the new contact rules and colleges running more spread offenses.

The Falcons’ rushing attack fell off to 27th in the league as they started six different guards and played five different combinations.

The last offensive linemen the Falcons developed was right tackle Ryan Schraeder, an undrafted player from Valdosta State. He slipped last season and lost his starting position.

The best lineman the Falcons drafted -- after the first round -- was center Joe Hawley under Dimitroff.

One could debate whether Jake Matthews or Sam Baker was the best first-rounder picked since 2008. Baker was never selected to the Pro Bowl and Matthews is looking for his first trip. 

The Falcons worked with Wes Schweitzer, a sixth-round draft pick in 2016, and Sean Harlow, a fourth round pick in 2017. Both sat for one year. Schweitzer played with mix results in his second and third years. Harlow was cut and signed to the practice squad.

Tackle Jake Rodgers, a seventh-round pick in 2015, has bounced around the league as a practice squad player. He was with Houston, Pittsburgh and Baltimore in 2018, but has never played a down in the NFL. 

The Falcons drafted Matthews in the first round with the sixth overall pick. Tennessee’s took tackle Taylor Lewan with the 11th pick and he’s been selected to three Pro Bowls. 

The Falcons acquired center Alex Mack and guard Brandon Fusco in free agency and traded for right guard Andy Levitre. 

The Falcons traded for backup tackle Ty Sambrailo and signed old-timer Zane Beadles in free agency. 

The Falcons tried to develop tackle Matt Gono last season. He was inactive for all 16 games like Schweitzer and Harlow were as rookies.

The two previous offensive linemen drafted were center Peter Konz in the second round and Lamar Holmes in the third round of the 2012 draft. 

Holmes played seven games in the CFL in 2017.

Back in 2011, the Falcons picked Andrew “The President” Jackson in the seventh round. He never played in the NFL.

In 2010, the Falcons drafted Alabama guard Mike Johnson in the third-round and Hawley in the fourth-round. Johnson’s career was side-tracked by injuries, while Hawley went on to make 26 starts and play 91 games in the NFL.

In 2009, North Carolina tackle Garrett Reynolds was selected in the fifth-round. He went on to start 18 games and play in 67. 

In 2008, the Falcons selected Baker after trading back into the first round. Injuries side-tracked Baker’s career. He made 32 starts and played in 75 games. 

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter
D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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