Injuries have plagued the Atlanta Falcons since their opening game versus the Philadelphia Eagles. Following that, the Falcons lost both starting guards in Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, severely limiting the offense. There’s no question the Falcons will have to address the guard position in the off season, but it has been more than just injuries preventing Atlanta from looking like the team we have seen in the past.
Starting right tackle, Ryan Schraeder, has declined, giving the Falcons another tricky decision to make across the offensive line. Atlanta could be looking to replace three starters next season. Whether Schraeder had been playing with an undisclosed injury prior to being replaced by Ty Sambrailo as a starter or not, it is clear that the Falcons need to get younger along their line. The following are the most sensible options for the Falcons at right tackle in 2019.
There can be a case made for keeping Ryan Schraeder, being that this is his only down season since becoming a starter in 2015. Two seasons ago, Schraeder graded out as one of the top tackles in the NFL and was selected to Pro Football Focus’s All-Pro team. Only two seasons into his five-year contract extension, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the team give Schraeder another chance to reclaim the position next season. He’s only 30 years old and could bounce back given another crack at the starting lineup in 2019. Cutting him would also cost the team close to $4 million.
Ty Sambrailo has replaced Schraeder in the starting lineup, and while he looks decent at right tackle, it is clear that he is not in the future plans moving forward with the position. Sambrailo is most notable for being Vic Beasley’s claim to fame during his breakout campaign, where he racked up 3 sacks versus the Denver Broncos. However, at this stage of his career, Sambrailo is nothing more than a swing tackle.
Next year’s crop of free agents at offensive tackle are not ideal. Headlined by Jared Veldheer, who is already 32 years old, the Falcons will probably pass on fixing their problem at right tackle via free agency. If a signing were to occur watch for Ja’Wuan James, Seantrel Henderson, and Daryl Williams to receive looks as they are younger players who have untapped potential.
The Atlanta Falcons are currently slotted to pick 6th in the NFL draft, which could lead them to taking one of the best tackles on the board should they see fit. Jonah Williams from Alabama is being mocked as a top-5 pick and could easily start from day one. Jawaan Taylor out of Florida is another name to look out for. Taylor is very talented and has the size and movement skills to step right in and start at tackle as a rookie.
Moving away from the 1st round, the Falcons could opt for selecting Dalton Risner out of Kansas State. Risner is a mauler and could help the Falcons restart their running game. He started his college career as a center but moved out to tackle and has performed exceptionally well.
A late round sleeper that will draw looks is Tytus Howard out of Alabama State. Howard received rave reviews from NFL scouts, leading to him being selected to the Senior Bowl. Howard is 6’6, 305 pounds, and while he would be a bit of a project, it could pan out for the Falcons in the near future, especially should Schraeder return to form next season.