2019 Atlanta Falcons Roster Review: Offensive Tackles

Chris Vinel

2019 was a tale of two sides for the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive line.

Jake Matthews manned the left end, and as has been the case for the majority of the previous five years, protected Matt Ryan’s blindside well.

To complement Matthews, the Falcons traded for a second first round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and used it on the University of Washington’s Kaleb McGary. He slotted in as Atlanta's right tackle.

While Matthews played well, finishing 96th in Pro Football Focus’ Top 101 Players of 2019 list, McGary did not. He endured his fair share of rookie struggles.

Both players started all 16 games, as Ty Sambrailo was the only other tackle to see more than 20 snaps. Sambrailo didn’t make much of an impact on the offensive line, but he did score a rather impressive big-man touchdown.


Jake Matthews

Based on his consistency alone, Matthews deserves a round of applause.

For the fifth consecutive year, he played in every game. He was on the field for a league-leading 1,163 total snaps, and he was productive, too.

Pro Football Focus placed Matthews as the NFL’s 13th best tackle in 2019, handing him a 79.7 overall rating out of a possible 100. He earned an 84.9 on pass-blocking attempts and a 64.2 on run plays.

He gave up eight sacks and drew seven penalty flags.

Given he is just a few days shy of his 28th birthday and has a contract that runs through 2023, Matthews will be in a Falcons uniform for a while. He is one season removed from a Pro Bowl appearance (2018).

Kaleb McGary

After Atlanta picked McGary 31st overall, he was given high expectations.

He didn’t live up to them, allowing a team-high 13 sacks — five more than any other Falcons offensive lineman and seven more than McGary surrendered in his entire college career.

Pro Football Focus graded his pass-blocking performance as a 52.8. He didn’t grade much better in the run game or overall, drawing a 53.9 and 53.0, respectively. He ranked 72nd out of 81 eligible tackles. 

Not great.

But he did play more than 1,100 snaps and committed only five penalties.

He also has a couple excuses.

Oftentimes, rookie offensive linemen struggle. McGary added to those natural stumbling blocks by undergoing a heart procedure during training camp, missing more than three weeks of valuable learning experience in the preseason.

The 6-foot-6, 306-pound McGary is young and still possesses the body and skill set needed to thrive in the NFL. After a season of on-the-job training, he’ll look to take a jump in his second year.

The Falcons are counting on that, too.

They plan to run it back with the same characters and bank on McGary catching up with Matthews’ play to improve the offensive line in 2020.