It’s rankings season, and PFF is putting out its positional rankings. The Falcons, much improved from a year ago, appear on a number of the lists, including the top tackles entering 2023.
Jake Matthews remains one of the most durable players in the NFL and consistently underrated across the league. He’s rock solid as a pass protector and improved his run-blocking dramatically in 2023. Kaleb McGary is coming off a career year in which he was regarded as one of the best run blockers across the entire league. Though he leaves a lot to be desired as a pass blocker, he improved in that area last year.
The Falcons now have two of the most important positions locked down for the next few years, and according to PFF, they ranked the pair the 18th and 25th-best tackles.
Matthews is dependable, and while he hasn’t been enough of a mauler in the run game to push beyond that, a lot of teams would love to have a player like him manning the left side of their offensive line. His PFF pass-blocking grade hasn’t dipped lower than 77.0 since his rookie season back in 2014.
With an 86.6 PFF grade in 2022, McGary was the fourth-highest-graded tackle in the NFL. However, the split between his run blocking (91.6, second) and pass blocking (66.9, 49th) adds some context as to why he isn’t higher on this list. He has improved as a run blocker every season he has been in the league and remains in a run-heavy system with the Falcons, so he should have a solid year in 2023. Just don’t expect a Lane Johnson level of pass blocking from him.
I think McGary’s ranking is about right, though another step in development could see him rise again next year. Matthews, on the other hand, is undervalued as the 18th-best tackle in the league.
The Falcons are one of eight other teams with both tackles appearing on the list. Below are the rest of the duos to make the list:
- Eagles: Lane Johnson (2), Jordan Mailata (6)
- Vikings: Christian Darrisaw (5), Brian O’Neill (16)
- Raiders: Kolton Miller (8), Jermain Elumunor (32)
- Cowboys: Tyron Smith (22), Terrence Steele (29)
- Colts: Braden Smith (15), Bernhard Raimann (28)
- Broncos: Mike McGlinchey (21), Garrett Bolles (23)
- Ravens: Ronnie Stanley (12), Morgan Moses (20)
- Lions: Penei Sewell (10), Taylor Decker (19)
The Falcons have a solid offensive line, one that returns four of five starters from a year ago. It surrounds Desmond Ridder with more than enough help to get a very accurate analysis of the third-rounder in 2023. There is no reason Ridder can’t succeed immediately, and the duo of Kaleb McGary and Jake Matthews are a big part of that.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire