Offensive Line: B+
With the recent addition of Alex Mack the Atlanta Falcons are looking at the best offensive line for Matt Ryan since he came into the league. Shanahan must be really pleased having Mack come from Cleveland and when a coach leaves one team and brings players with him that means they see something that they really like. It could be the talent or it could be the sheer athleticism that the coach sees but Shanahan sees it alright. Mack is 30 and is one of the most elite centers in the league. He should be a great mentor to the young guns of the team (Matthews and Schraeder).
The zone blocking scheme and the reuniting of him and Shanahan should lead him to a Pro Bowl year in the 2016 season. As of right now the Falcons need to draft a fourth or fifth round talent to get a raw and young guard to play along side Mack. Chris Chester isn’t getting any younger and as of right now he just got resigned. Mike Person was a bust at Center last year. Most likely Quinn will slide him into the Right Guard position, but if the Falcons are thinking ahead they’d like some insurance in case Levitre or Person goes down.
The Falcons have several options when it comes to guards in this year’s draft and most of them are going in the fourth through sixth round. I’m going to go over my favorite two prospects and tell you why they would work in Shanahan’s scheme.
Christian Westerman, Offensive Guard for the Arizona State Sun Devils.
6’3, 298 LBs, 33 ½ Arm Length, 11 7/8 Hands.
Westerman had a draft high 34 reps on the bench press. He was a national recruit who played for Auburn for the first two years of his college career. He struggled with injury and didn’t show the amount of skill in the scheme Malzahn was running when he came off injury. He went back to his home state of Arizona and excelled in the 2014-2015 season. He hit a road block at the beginning of the 2015-16 season and struggled to get back to the way he was playing until after Arizona State played Texas A&M. He was a two time All Pac-12 honoree and was on the 2015 All-Pac 12 Second Team. He appeared in 26 games and had 25 starts in three seasons. His run blocking is beyond exceptional as he lead ASU to 2,700 rushing yards this last year. His pass blocking is above average, but he struggles when he needs to redirect interior pass rushers if they get past him. He’s very athletic and quick who has the skills to succeed in Atlanta’s zone blocking offense.
He is my favorite pick (for the O-Line) for the Falcons to draft. He’s projected a 4-6th round draft pick and is one of the top Guard prospects in the draft. I really hope that Thomas Dimitroff picks him up as he could be the next “hidden gem” like Tom Brady was for the Patriots.
Sebastian Tretola, OG for the Arkansas Razorbacks
6’4, 314 LBs, 31 ½ Arm Length, 10 3/8 Hands.
Tretola is an elite guard who played in the Power scheme. He can fit just as well into the Zone Blocking scheme with Atlanta. He lacks the same amount of strength that Westerman has but makes up for it with his outstanding frame and powerful upper body strength. His stamina is a question as you can see he suffers from some fatigue as the game goes on, but that’s something that can be fixed through hard cardiovascular training. His work ethic is amazing and he almost never gives up on blocks. If someone gets past him then he busts his butt to go and push them out to prevent the interior defender from getting the sack.
He’s a little slow when it comes to watching the Linebacker which can be seen when he sometimes forgets to come off the block and get the Linebacker. He’s one of the more physical guards and could turn into a big snag as he’s projected to go in the fourth or fifth round. Personally I prefer Westerman over Tretola because it’ll likely take more time for Tretola to adjust into the starting role.
The clock is ticking and we will all see how the Falcons will address the need at the OG position in the next five to six days.
“Christian Westerman.” Fox Sports. Fox, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2016.