The Falcons have still yet to answer the biggest question the team has had since Chris Chester announced his retirement. Then again, maybe that is their answer.
Atlanta overlooked the hole at guard during the draft, and did not select a lineman until Sean Harlow out of Oregon State in the fourth-round. Harlow started 37 games for the Beavers, all at the tackle position. He did see some time at guard and center during practice, but that is not the kind of experience necessary for a guard when competing for a Super Bowl. Harlow may serve as a utilitarian backup of sorts, but it would be remarkable to see him starting effectively in his rookie season.
That leaves the Falcons with either Ben Garland or Wes Schweitzer to fill the spot on the current roster. Ben Garland has been a multi-purpose body for the team over the last two seasons, whose best snaps have actually come on the defensive side of the ball where he has served as a backup defensive tackle. Garland has also spent time as the backup at center to Alex Mack, but is certainly not the ideal player to fill in for Chester. He is best served in his current role as a backup offensive lineman with the capability to rotate in on defense.
Schweitzer looks to be the team’s starting guard at the moment. He was a tackle in college but made the move to the interior line last season and was not active for a single game. That is not exactly what you want to hear about your starting guard heading into the season, but Quinn does not seemed to be too worried. We’re excited about where Wes is headed,” Quinn said. “… He is an all-day [player] here trying to find the one thing to do better. I use the term, ‘set it off.’ Wes Schweitzer this year has set it off in terms of having the offseason of his life. He’s battle for it in every way…” Those words are encouraging, as Schweitzer is a former sixth-round pick with zero playing experience. That will not matter to Quinn, however, who has shown zero hesitance to throwing his young draft picks into battle.
The Falcons have done an unbelievable job drafting in the late rounds since the arrival of Dan Quinn. Schweitzer could be just another diamond in the rough that this organization was able to find. But with everything the Falcons have at stake, it would be odd for Atlanta not to keep an eye out on the free agent market. Football is the ultimate team sport, and the Falcons record-breaking offense of 2016, can be brought down to Earth by a single weak link, especially on the offensive line. Schweitzer may be having the offseason of his life, but he has still yet to play an NFL down. The Falcons need to have a capable backup plan in place, whether that is on the current roster or available in free agency.