Continuing the countdown of the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, let’s break down the 11th best player in offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder.
To read about the methodology in how these rankings came about, you can click here.
Total Score: 64/100
Last year’s rank: 41st
Player Grade: 57/100
Teams he is starter: 21 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 6 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 32 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +3
Positional Bonus: +3
In contrast to Roddy White, no Falcon player saw as big a jump up these rankings from last year than Schraeder, just barely missing the cut a year ago. The third-year right tackle now finds him on the precipice of being one of the top 10 players on the entire team.
Schraeder always flashed potential from the moment he arrived in Atlanta as an undrafted rookie out of Valdosta State in 2013. His major issue was honing it to a level where it could consistently be effective on the field.
Schraeder’s height, arm length and athleticism certainly makes him look the part of an NFL offensive tackle. But his lack of experience limited his draft stock and made him the very definition of a project when he arrived in Atlanta.
Schraeder didn’t play football in high school, and his time playing football during his youth days was as a short running back. But Schraeder had a massive growth spurt at the end of high school, enrolled at Butler Community College and decided to don the pads during his sophomore year.
That was his first taste of playing the offensive line and his raw, natural ability immediately earned him all-conference honors. He found himself at Valdosta State the next year, once again being honored with all-conference and national Division II awards during his two years as a starting left tackle.
It was clear that Schraeder’s best football was ahead of him. He had his share of struggles his first two summers in Atlanta, learning to play right tackle for the first time. Bu it didn’t take long for Schraeder to prove himself to be one of the nastiest players on the roster, developing an edge to go with his “plus” size and athleticism.
Things finally started to click for Schraeder when he was thrust into the starting lineup at right tackle midway through last season thanks to injuries and poor play marring Lamar Holmes and Gabe Carimi, respectively.
Quickly asserting himself as a good run-blocker, Schraeder held up much better in pass protection than many would have assumed, solidifying the right side of the Falcons offensive line that remained the strength of that unit for the remainder of the season.
The Falcons are hopeful that Schraeder will only pick up where he left off a year ago. His athletic tools and nasty streak should make him a good fit in the team’s zone-blocking scheme installed by new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Schraeder likely would have been a favorite of Alex Gibbs, the ex-Falcons and Denver Broncos offensive line coach that developed the blocking system used by Shanahan.
But Schraeder is also a still-developing player and there may still have a few growing pains ahead of him. Despite a strong performance over nine starts, it will take considerably more improvement to maintain that level of play over 16 games in 2015.
Yet the Falcons can rest assured that any growth and improvement that Schraeder shows this year might just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of how good a player he can potentially become.