Several reports from reliable sources believe Josh Andrews has the inside track to start at left guard. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s D. Orlando Ledbetter reported that Andrews appears to be the offseason leader at left guard, noting he spent a lot of time next to Jake Matthews. The Athletic‘s Tori McElhaney also reported throughout OTA’s that the 30-year-old journeyman was getting a significant amount of first-team reps. And, according to a source, Pro Football Network‘s Adam Beasley most recently revealed that Andrews received starting reps in the spring and will be given a chance to win the job in training camp.
Andrews and Jalen Mayfield will compete at left guard, given the uncertainty regarding Matt Gono‘s undisclosed injury. Arthur Smith remains adamant about winning in the trenches, “Obviously, we’re going to go as the line goes,” but the depth is unimpressive at this point. Drew Dalman will compete at center with Matt Hennessy but will likely see reps at left guard, too, given the Falcons current options.
Arthur Smith said the staff is confident in the development plan set forth for Jalen Mayfield. Still, if any obstruction hinders his development, the position will be a revolving door this year. Dalman’s natural position is center, and Gono’s timetable to return is still unknown. That isn’t to suggest that Mayfield and Andrews can’t provide meaningful snaps this season, but my bet would lie with the rookie third-round pick.
Andrews has started only four games in his career, though some suggest injuries have bogged down his development. Even still, starting the former Jet isn’t an ideal situation. He’s a servicable/below-average run blocker and abysmal in pass protection. Comparing the two directly, I believe Mayfield is the superior run blocker and has far more upside in pass sets than Andrews. The Oregon State product has simply been a stopgap player his entire career of 40 games, which is why, contrary to substantiated reports, I believe Mayfield will eventually win the starting job at left guard.