I’m on record saying that I believe the Falcons should look to address the trenches in free agency, but if they feel the right offensive linemen is available — they might choose to pounce. Kaleb McGary is a free agent after the 2022 season, and the interior of the offensive line is still shaky. If this regime is truly committed to Matt Ryan as they have expressed, they have to protect him. I’ll be splitting these groups into interior offensive line and offensive tackle. Previous editions of this series are listed below:
- 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Quarterbacks (Pre-Combine)
- 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Running Backs (Pre-Combine)
- 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends (Pre-Combine)
Interior Offensive Line:
8. Justin Shaffer — Georgia
Shaffer is more of a project, but I did get a chance to watch a lot of his film at Georgia. He still looks new to the position sometimes, but he can really create a push up the middle in the run game and move players much larger than he is. If he can develop his body a bit more and get used to NFL blocking, he would be a steal in the later rounds.
7. Alec Lindstrom — Boston College
The brother of Falcons star guard Chris, Alec Lindstrom is a three year starter and a very decorated player at Boston College. Lindstrom isn’t the most athletic or strongest guard in this class, but he is very technically sound and could really develop into a special player if he can add some strength.
6. Sean Rhyan — UCLA
Rhyan played left tackle for Chip Kelly, but his lateral quickness and ability to pull as a run blocked likely means he’ll be relegated to guard in the NFL, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. His arms aren’t incredibly long, but he has a solid first step and strike which should help him as a pass blocker as he transitions inside. Rhyan may be a bit of a project at first, but he has loads of potential.
5. Darian Kinnard — Kentucky
Kinnard flew up draft boards in the middle of this season, but his stock has cooled down a bit leading up to the combine. Still, he is incredibly strong and tenacious as a run blocker, and although his technique needs a little refining — he has potential to start from day one.
4. Zion Johnson — Boston College
Johnson is one of the more technically sound prospects in this class, and his strength and athleticism should appeal to a lot of teams that need a day one starter at guard. He has one of the highest floors of this group.
3. Jamaree Salyer — Georgia
Even though Salyer had to serve at Left Tackle at Georgia due to injuries at times, but he has positional flexibility all across the offensive line. He’s a versatile piece who is physical as a run blocker and athletic as a pass blocker. Salyer reminds me a lot of James Daniels — he’s a guy with enough experience to start day one, and as a likely day two pick — there’s a ton of value there.
2. Kenyon Green — Texas A&M
The former five-star Green has been a staple on Texas A&M’s offensive line for many seasons, and he doesn’t have a lot of flaws in his game. He profiles as a plug and play starter from day one that still has tons of potential to develop into a Pro Bowler.
1. Tyler Linderbaum — Iowa
Although center isn’t a priority position for a lot of teams, Tyler Linderbaum is a plug and play starter that can transform the interior of an offensive line immediately. Linderbaum is polished as a pass blocker and has a nasty streak as a run blocker — he’s one of the safest prospects in this entire draft.
7. Rasheed Walker — Penn State
Right now, I think Walker profiles as more of a swing tackle that could develop into a starter. His tape is a bit inconsistent, he shows that he’s very technically sound with good strength and athleticism, but his run blocking isn’t where I would like it to be. Still, he shows great traits as a pass blocker and could absolutely develop into a serviceable starter one day — especially with as much experience as he had at Penn State.
6. Max Mitchell — Louisiana
One of my favorite sleepers in this whole class, Mitchell looks like the perfect candidate for a team looking to develop a starting right tackle. Mitchell is a good athlete who played well against top competition, and I think he has the body and skillset to develop into a great player in the NFL. For someone that may be available on day three, that’s a fantastic pickup.
5. Daniel Faalele — Minnesota
Faalele is an absolute monster — both physically and athletically. He is going to wow scouts at the combine with his movement and measurables. He’s still very raw, as he didn’t start playing football until a few years ago, but the sky is truly the limit for this kid. He didn’t have a great week at the Senior Bowl, but some team is going to roll the dice on him early.
4. Trevor Penning — Northern Iowa
I was a big fan of Penning’s teammate Spencer Brown in the last draft cycle, and Penning is an even better prospect coming out of Northern Iowa. Penning is a very strong run blocker and a good athlete, which makes me think he may end up as a right tackle in the NFL. Regardless, he has the makeup of a special player.
3. Charles Cross — Mississippi State
Cross is one of the better athletes in this group, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumped one of the names ahead of him on this list in actual draft position. He can mirror almost any pass rusher and can match up with almost any of them athletically. At 6’5 and 305 pounds, he has shades of Cowboys All Pro Left Tackle Tyron Smith.
2. Evan Neal — Alabama
I have Neal at second on this list, but the first two guys are interchangeable. Neal switched over from Right Tackle to Left Tackle this season, but he was still a dominant road grader in Alabama’s run game. He may be better suited as a right tackle in the NFL, but he’s going to be a fantastic player no matter where he lines up.
1. Ikem Ekwonu — North Carolina State
Early in the college football season, Ekwonu was one of my favorite prospects for the Falcons in the second round of the draft. That’s off the table at this point. Ekwonu is an angry blocker in the run game, and he shows off his top tier athleticism as a pass blocker. Ekwonu is a guy who should be able to start from day one for an NFL team and absolutely lock down left tackle for a decade plus.