Falcons: What does the future in Atlanta look like for Kaleb McGary?

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Kaleb McGary had a stellar first half of 2020 but teetered off towards the end of the season. Jake wrote about how McGary had been playing so well before an MCL sprain, and perhaps the injury can be partially attributed to his decline in performance. But after two seasons of ho-hum play, and with a new regime coming in, it’s fair to ask — is McGary the future at right tackle?

We can start with the positives from McGary’s sophomore season. For starters, he only committed one penalty and surrendered four sacks all season. Those are some significant improvements from his rookie campaign. Both areas of his blocking improved as well, most notably his work in the run game. The clip below illustrates exactly what I am referring to:

In only his second year, McGary is ascending. He is undoubtedly the starting right tackle as the roster currently sits, but is it the best way to configure the offensive line? I have reservations about McGary’s consistency in pass protection, so my suggestion would be to consider kicking him inside and take a tackle in the draft.

It doesn’t have to be an immediate thing, but if Penei Sewell is available, I wouldn’t hesitate in drafting the Oregon tackle. He looks like a player that could be a franchise cornerstone for the next 10+ years, and bringing him in will only improve the play of others through competition. I would let the two battle it out in camp and start the best one at right tackle, kicking the other inside.

I like the idea of moving McGary to guard so he can utilize his best asset thus far, his run blocking. The switch will simultaneously accentuate his run blocking and mitigate the risk he poses in pass protection. With two years left on his current contract, McGary could play his way into an extension or find himself expendable depending on how the future regime values Jake Matthews.

As of now, I don’t believe offensive line is the top priority. There are enough pieces on the current roster to make things work with a few tweaks. However, that changes if Arthur Smith — who is rumored to be the frontrunner for the Falcons head coaching vacancy — is hired. In his offense, the line is the most important aspect, so bringing in as many talented pieces to ensure the unit is up to par is vital. Regardless, expect McGary to once again be a key piece to the offensive line in 2021, whether it be at right tackle or guard.

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