2016 Draft Needs: Falcons Offensive Tackle Not A Concern

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY SportsRyan Schraeder had the tough task of blocking Khalil Mack on Sunday

The Atlanta Falcons were successfully able to shore up much of their concerns at offensive tackle this offseason, making it highly unlikely that they address the position in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The team was able to accomplish this by re-signing free agent Bryce Harris and bringing in veteran Tom Compton. Both are expected to compete for reserve roles behind starters Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder.

Matthews and Schraeder are firmly entrenched atop the depth chart and both are coming off solid seasons. Matthews showed substantial improvement in the team’s zone-blocking scheme last year. Despite a rocky start to the year that prompted the team to sign veteran Jake Long, Schraeder turned in a strong 2015 campaign.

Schraeder will be an unrestricted free agent next year at the age of 28, but his play over the past two seasons has been more than strong enough that the Falcons shouldn’t be overly concerned about his long-term status. Normally the team might consider using a draft pick on an insurance policy in case they cannot retain him, much as they did with Lamar Holmes back in 2012 when Sam Baker was entering the final year of his contract.

But given their limited number of picks and the wealth of experience they have already on the bench with Harris and Compton, it’s not necessary. The Falcons can simply wait until next year to decide what Schraeder’s long-term status will be.

Between them, Harris and Compton have 14 career starts. Harris has experience playing both left and right tackle and Compton has spent the bulk of his career at right tackle. They will compete for the right to be the team’s swing tackle, backing up both Matthews and Schraeder this year.

The Falcons are likely to add undrafted free agents into the mix to increase competition this summer in training camp, but given Harris and Compton’s starting experience, any additions will be seen mostly as camp bodies trying to impress their way onto the practice squad as opposed to the 53-man roster.

Thus the Falcons are almost certainly not going to waste a pick on an offensive tackle this year and will simply stand pat with the current foursome heading into camp.

 

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Aaron Freeman
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