There’s no secret who the Falcons most improved player was in 2022. Kaleb McGary had begun to look like a first-round bust until last year, which is why he was PFF’s most improved player.
ATLANTA FALCONS: OT KALEB MCGARY
- 2021 PFF Grade: 62.8
- 2022 PFF Grade: 86.6
- Improvement: 23.8
The Falcons declined McGary’s fifth-year option heading into 2022 after three seasons where he had failed to make the type of impact one would expect from a first-round pick. The former Washington Husky responded by having a career year on the right side of the Falcons’ line. Among tackles, McGary’s 91.8 run-blocking grade trailed only the San Francisco 49ers‘ Trent Williams.
McGary is a mauler in the run game, and the right side of the line of scrimmage was Arthur Smith’s favorite to run behind. Chris Lindstrom and McGary formed a menacing duo in 2022 because of the Washington product’s incredible fourth-year leap.
Generally, development in any field isn’t linear, and it’s even more true in the NFL, especially for tackles. It’s an impossible position to play. You must be able to hold up against the most athletic edge defenders while being mobile enough to get out in space in the run game, especially in Arthur Smith’s system. Kaleb McGary had been a lousy player until 2022, but that exponential improvement couldn’t have come in a better season — a contract year.
Now, the former first-rounder will be a free agent. Without an obvious replacement, the Falcons might feel pressured to bring him back on a new deal. That could be a multi-year deal or a franchise tag. Kaleb McGary still isn’t exactly great in pass protection, so I could see why fans would be hesitant to give him the lucrative contract he’ll command on the open market, but the Falcons might not have a choice; there aren’t any obvious candidates to take over unless Atlanta finds that player in the draft — Paris Johnson Jr. or Broderick Jones, for example.
Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire
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