Continuing the countdown of the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, let’s break down the 19th best player in guard Chris Chester.
To read about the methodology in how these rankings came about, you can click here.
Total Score: 59/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 53/100
Teams he is starter: 23 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 4 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 32 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +0
Positional Bonus: +3
When the Falcons signed Chester in late May, the expectation was that he was a veteran addition to plug in at left guard given the lack of experience the Falcons had at that point.
Many expected the Falcons to address their guard position in the draft, but they did not and when Chester became available after his release by the Washington Redskins, it became a no-brainer for the Falcons to scoop him up.
But now it appears that Chester might be poised to replace Jon Asamoah as the team’s starting right guard. Regardless of the side of the offensive line that Chester plays, it is highly likely that he’ll be asked to step in as a starter and veteran leader on a young Falcons line.
Chester, 32, enters his 10th year in the league and eighth as a starter. He’ll also be playing his fourth year as a starter under new Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Chester began his collegiate career at Oklahoma as a tight end and that athleticism is still apparent today even at his advanced age. When blocking on the move, few move as adeptly as Chester, which is one of the key reasons why the Falcons and Shanahan were so attracted to adding him to the lineup. The Falcons are moving to the zone-blocking scheme under Shanahan this season, and having a player as well-versed in it as Chester makes total sense.
Chester’s weaknesses are his lack of power and strength, limiting how effectively he can be when asked to move defenders off the ball. It also limits him in pass protection, especially against top-flight pass-rushers that can outmatch his quickness and beat him with speed. Without an effective counter punch to stop those players dead in their tracks, Chester can be exposed at times.
That exposure happened often over his tenure in Washington when facing quality players like Gerald McCoy, Michael Bennett or Justin Tuck that knew how to bring the heat on the interior. If Chester makes the switch to the left side of the offensive line, it’s likely he’ll face less of those caliber of defensive tackles and will also receive more help from the center given the Falcons’ propensity to slide their protections to the left.
Chester is operating off a one-year deal and was signed mostly to be a short-term fix to help bridge the gap as the new coaching staff tries to incorporate their own scheme. It’s unlikely that Chester will be considered a long-term asset in Atlanta, but if he can have a solid 2015 campaign, then it’s certainly possible that the team will want him back again in 2016.
If not, then the Falcons could opt to move on with a younger player. But in the meantime, all they ask is for Chester to be a solid, competent starter, which he is capable of being.