Falcons trade up in the second round, draft Matthew Bergeron

Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron answers a question at the NCAA college football Atlantic Coast Conference Media Days in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron answers a question at the NCAA college football Atlantic Coast Conference Media Days in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons traded up Friday to land a candidate for their vacant starting left guard position.

In the second round of the NFL draft, with the 38th overall pick, the Falcons chose Syracuse offensive tackle Matthew Bergeron, who is slated to be moved inside.

“I know the Braves and I hate Georgia Tech,” Bergeron said when asked what he knew about Atlanta. Tech and Syracuse are ACC rivals.

The Falcons sent their second-round pick (44th overall) and one of their fourth-rounders (110th overall) to the Colts to move up six spots in the second round.

“Matt is guy who played a lot of tackle at Syracuse,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “We’ll start him inside. Just the vision that we have for him now, the depth that we have and where we are with the line.”

The Falcons started four different players at left guard last season in Elijah Wilkinson, Colby Gossett, Matt Hennessy and Chuma Edoga. Wilkinson was the preferred starter, but he left in free agency. Edoga left in free agency, and Gossett was not re-signed.

“We can bring him along the right way,” Smith said. “He’s got a lot of power in his game. We saw some of that at the Senior Bowl.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Bergeron, a native of Quebec, started five of 12 games at right tackle in 2019.

In 2020, he started 11 games, the first three at right tackles and the final eight at left tackle.

Last season, he started all 12 games at left tackle and was named honorable-mention All-ACC. He opted out of the school’s bowl game.

Bergeron caught the attention of the Syracuse staff at a football camp.

“It was crazy, so basically I came down for a Syracuse camp,” Bergeron said. “I wasn’t being recruited at all. My high school coach here in Canada, he told me, ‘You have talent.’ I think you can compete with some of the guys down in the U.S.”

Bergeron hit the road for the camp.

“Paid for the hotel for one night,” Bergeron said. “Next day, went into camp, and when I got in to camp I realized I was the best tackle out there. I made the most out of it. I got my first (scholarship) offer. My first and only offer. Then the next year, I started for Syracuse.”

Bergeron played hockey in his youth. He was a defenseman.

“That was back in my day,” Bergeron said. “I was like 10, 9 years old. I can’t skate now. I lost it.”

Bergeron believes playing hockey helped his transition to American football.

“I think my balance, being on ice skates you have to have certain balance,” Bergeron said. “I think that translated to my style of play and how I play football.”

Bergeron believes he can make the transition to guard.

“I think it’s easier to move from outside to inside especially when you’ve played your whole life at tackle,” Bergeron said. “Moving inside, you got cushion. You’ve got the center, the tackle next to you. If you played tackle in college, you’re an athlete. Moving inside and using my athletic ability … and my natural strength to compete with the those bigger and stronger guys inside. I think it could be an advantage for me.”

Bergeron participated in the Senior Bowl and worked at guard for one of the practices.

“I played a whole Senior Bowl practice at left guard,” Bergeron said. “I think it went well. I was getting better as the day went on. The first period, the first series, it was an adjustment. I felt like throughout the day I was getting better.”

Bergeron has been playing American football for four years and football overall for 10 years.

“It was just Canadian football,” Bergeron said.

The Falcons were interested in Bergeron.

“I talk to them at the Senior Bowl and combine, a coach came up to my Pro Day,” Bergeron said. “We talked about my versatility and how important it is to be versatile, especially in your rookie year. I’m an aggressive dude. I want to play physical. Whatever I’ve got to do to help the Falcons run the ball, I’ll do it.


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