The Falcons selected four offensive and defensive linemen in the first draft of the new regime’s tenure. I fully expect that trend to continue every year that Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith are in control. It was the Saints method of operation; it’ll now be the Falcons’ strategy — bolstering the trenches every year.
New Orleans has one of the best offensive lines in the league, and they were all acquired through the NFL draft. Fontenot selected Jalen Mayfield and Drew Dalman in his first crack as a general manager, and they very well could develop into staters, but I see the Falcons addressing the interior offensive line in the 2022 draft, so we will begin with a few of the top guard prospects as that is the most glaring weakness right now — left guard.
Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
The consensus top guard in this class, Green has experience playing both sides of the line of scrimmage. The Aggie is a two-year starter and has been reported to live in the weight room. On the field, he has incredible power in his feet and hands. What is so impressive about Green is his ability in pass protection and the run game — able to move interior defensive linemen with ease and possessing the athleticism to get to the second level. A couple of drafts ago, the Packers selected Elgton Jenkins out of A&M, who has developed into one of the league’s most reliable and versatile offensive linemen.
Ed Ingram, LSU
Ingram might not be one of the highest prospects on the Falcons draft board because of his 2018 campaign, in which he missed the entire season after violating team rules. Still, he’s one of the most experienced guards in this class. He’ll be a leader along the offensive line in Baton Rouge this fall. He’s inconsistent but is just as powerful as Green.
Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
Ekwonu has experience at tackle but projects to be a better guard in the NFL. Standing 6’4″ and weighing 320-pounds, he is a physically imposing specimen. With that size, he’s obviously strong and aggressive, but his versatility, athleticism, and football IQ are equally as impressive. He might not be as effective as Green protecting the quarterback, but he might be the best run-blocking guard in this class, which should excite Arthur Smith.
Paul Grattan, UCLA
Grattan is a versatile offensive lineman who has transitioned from the FCS to the FBS in what has to be an effort to improve his draft stock. He’s a better run blocker than pass blocker, but he’s a natural bulldozer. He gives off similar traits as Roger Saffold, who Arthur Smith has referenced multiple times as the guy who paved the way in Tennessee. He’s aggressive and mauls interior defenders, which is why I believe he’ll be on the Falcons’ radar.
Zion Johnson, Boston College
Similar to Grattan, Johnson has that mauler mentality in the run game. He shows great strength and hand placement in these situations and finishes his block as well as any in this class. He’s quick and displays impressive body control, which bodes well in Arthur Smith’s zone-blocking scheme.
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