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Falcons mock draft analysis: Is drafting another offensive lineman a quick fix? - The Athletic


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by Tori McElhaney for The Athletic 

 

I can post the Dane Brugler mock draft article if y’all want to see it - Goober

 

Holding the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Falcons owner Arthur Blank has said on a few occasions that he doesn’t expect the team to be in this position again. He and president and CEO Rich McKay believe that Atlanta is better, much better, than what the team showed the league in 2020. Blank and McKay have said they see success coming as early as 2021 now that a new general manager and coach are in place.

With this in mind, the pressure is on for the Falcons to make the right decision when the time comes to announce the No. 4 pick.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler released his third mock draft on Thursday, including predictions on possible first-round trades, too. While he didn’t have the Falcons in on any trade agreements, his Falcons selection is an interesting one. And no it’s not a quarterback. So, let’s analyze this potential pick:

The pick: Penei Sewell, T, Oregon

Brugler’s reasoning: The Falcons are certainly a wild card with this pick. With a new coach and GM, they have a chance to draft a young quarterback to groom behind Matt Ryan. Or they can go the “best available” route and upgrade the current roster while still competing. The Falcons heavily scouted the tackles in last year’s class and will likely do the same this year. Whether they plan to move Jake Matthews inside to guard or have Sewell start inside, Atlanta’s offensive line would be immediately better with this addition.

Why Sewell: The Falcons’ most prominent problems are two-fold. On defense, they need to develop a more consistent and disruptive pass rush. On offense, they need to do something about the running game. Prior to the Super Bowl, the media had the chance to chat with Blank. When asked about the makeup of the team, Blank ranked the offense’s problems in the running game ahead of the defense’s pass-rush problems.

“I think we have to establish a running game again. We’ve had one in the past but not in the past couple of years,” Blank said. “When you establish a running game, it makes the passing game much easier. It makes your ability to control the game, control the clock, control the tempo of the game (easier). It creates your ability to impose your will on the other team. Without it, it’s very hard to do those things. We haven’t had that, obviously, in the last few years.”

Yes, obviously.

The Falcons will need a running back if they choose not to resign Todd Gurley, which doesn’t seem likely based on how he finished 2020. So, that could be a big potential hole to fill, but as much as the Falcons would need someone to run through holes, they first need more bodies to create those holes. By using their first-round pick on another offensive lineman, the Falcons would be taking some of the pressure off finding a running back. If the holes an offensive line makes are big enough, it doesn’t really matter as much who’s running through them.

If the Falcons choose Sewell at No. 4, he’d join an offensive line already made up of first-rounders, particularly young ones. Matthews would be the true veteran of the group, as he was taken sixth overall in 2014. Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary were taken by the Falcons in the first round in 2019 (Lindstrom at No. 14 and McGary at No. 31). That would leave only Matt Hennessy at center as a non-first-rounder, as he was a third-round pick expecting to take over for Alex Mack as he likely moves on as a free agent. The Falcons have been putting an emphasis on the offensive line in their draft decisions for years. Sewell will be another young addition the Falcons will have to groom, but perhaps that is exactly what they wanted.

A recent example of success (or lack thereof): We saw the importance of a stout offensive line play out on Sunday in the Super Bowl. It didn’t matter how good Patrick Mahomes was if his makeshift offensive line couldn’t protect him, and it struggled to do so. His receivers didn’t help him out much either, but that’s another story.

What happened on Sunday, as Mahomes was beaten up by the Tampa Bay defensive line was something of note. While Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles should be given credit, the absence of key offensive line figures for the Chiefs was a true difference in the game as Mahomes was forced to take blow after blow. It was a game that was won in the trenches in pass protection and run blocking. Success hinges on winning the battle in the trenches, and the Falcons and the rest of the league saw another example of that Sunday when even one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league was stuck.

What the offensive line could look like with Sewell: Brugler said that it maybe doesn’t matter where the Falcons put Sewell: either move Matthews inside or groom Sewell for that guard spot. Regardless, Brugler said the offensive line would be “immediately” better with Sewell. That word “immediately” is important for the Falcons, who, as Blank said, do not want to or plan to be in this position again.

So, what would the offensive line look like with Sewell added to it? The right side of the line is secure: McGary at tackle, Lindstrom at guard. If Mack does not re-sign with Atlanta, it’s easy to assume the heir apparent to the center position would be Hennessy. That leaves the left side in question. My thought is to give Sewell what he knows and move Matthews inside. Matthews has more experience. He has been in the league for some time. He could be more flexible while still helping Sewell out. I tend to believe a trial by fire in this league is the best way to give rookies the best look they can early in their careers. Throwing Sewell right into facing some of the league’s best defensive ends and edge rushers would be a challenge, but the only way to learn is to play. And chances are that if the end goal is to have Sewell as a tackle, the Falcons might as well let him have his growing pains now rather than later.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Goober Pyle said:

My thought is to give Sewell what he knows and move Matthews inside. Matthews has more experience. He has been in the league for some time. He could be more flexible while still helping Sewell out.

Yeah because as we all know you get more flexible as you get older having only done one single thing for your whole career.

I'm all for drafting one of the Olinemen in the 1st but please just draft them for the position we need. A rookie and a dude who hasn't played guard a year in his life holding down the blindside doesn't fill me with confidence.  

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I've been on the "if staying at #4 take Sewell" train from the start. 

But I do think this article kinda glosses over the issue of the right side. Unfortunately, even though it has two 1st round picks, it's not clear at all that the right side of the OL is "taken care of." McGary has not proven himself to be an NFL-caliber OT yet. 

It would be frustrating to have four 1st round OL (two taken in the top 6) and not be one of, if not THE, best OL in the league. 

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8 minutes ago, vafalconfan said:

Is the right side of the line really secure with McGary at RT?.. Not from what I have seen so far. I would kick McGary inside and let Sewell do what he does best which is pancake rushers. McGary struggled mightily with the Tampa and saints D lines and that has to be corrected.

I really believe getting McGary moving in a ZBS like Smith implements will be vital to his improvement. 

I just remember the oline before and after KS. I think AS will have a similar effect on the oline. We just need Kaleb to be serviceable. Lindstrom is slowly growing into a beast.

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1 hour ago, vafalconfan said:

Is the right side of the line really secure with McGary at RT?.. Not from what I have seen so far. I would kick McGary inside and let Sewell do what he does best which is pancake rushers. McGary struggled mightily with the Tampa and saints D lines and that has to be corrected.

Where would you put lindstrom? LG?

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We’ve all seen what Ryan can do in a good scheme and just another second or two of protection. Even a remotely decently running game can give Matt exactly what he needs to show up again. If we go Sewell (which I’m all for), I can see Matt playing a while longer in the red and black. 

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19 hours ago, Kaptain Krazy said:

I've been on the "if staying at #4 take Sewell" train from the start. 

But I do think this article kinda glosses over the issue of the right side. Unfortunately, even though it has two 1st round picks, it's not clear at all that the right side of the OL is "taken care of." McGary has not proven himself to be an NFL-caliber OT yet. 

It would be frustrating to have four 1st round OL (two taken in the top 6) and not be one of, if not THE, best OL in the league. 

i would be incredibly surprised if AS doesn't get this o-line fixed instantly.

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I think the most value will be in FA offensive linemen this year. Still got to get them in the draft eventually, but without minicamps, offseason training activities and preseason games, it's going to be even longer in developing rookie linemen. We need to get the most pro ready ones out there when we draft them.

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22 hours ago, Lornoth said:

Yeah because as we all know you get more flexible as you get older having only done one single thing for your whole career.

I'm all for drafting one of the Olinemen in the 1st but please just draft them for the position we need. A rookie and a dude who hasn't played guard a year in his life holding down the blindside doesn't fill me with confidence.  

If someone moves inside it would make a ton more sense to me to have McGary do it. He feels like more of a power guy anyway, and he can fill back in at RT for depth. This also gives the option of letting Sewell and Matthews get looks at LT during camp and put the one that doesn't show as well at RT. We need one more OL no matter what - agree OG would be preferable but if Sewell is a top talent that anchors that LT spot for the next 10 years, I pull the trigger without thinking twice.

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31 minutes ago, vafalconfan said:

I would leave Lindstrom at RG. McGary should be an upgrade at LG, but I think Sewell would help shut down Jordan's padding his stats playing the Falcons twice a year....

What on earth makes you believe that McGary can play guard?

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Our problems arise from the mentality that we always shoot for a quick fix.  We need a major overhaul.

7 hours ago, Boise Falcon Fan said:

I've been on this train for awhile. Fix the OL, and the WHOLE team gets better.

I agree but I do not believe our problems are fixed with one player or position... our O-line could not stop a pee wee team from sacking Matty.  Folks complain matty does not run away fast enough crack me up.

:munch:

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I have gone back and forth over who we should take at pick 4.. I still think ideally we trade back with a QB desperate team and get a few more picks, but if we stay put I think the SAFEST pick, and the one that will likely have the biggest immediate  impact is Sewell.  I think, unless he is gone, Sewell has to be the pick.

If he is gone, all bets are off.  

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