Offensive line help is something the Atlanta Falcons shouldn’t ignore, no matter where it comes from. There are still a few names left on the free-agency market who could beef up a front five that was pushed around too easily last season.
One of those names is a former first-round pick who went in the top 10 of the 2015 NFL draft. He’s a powerhouse guard who would lend true size to a Falcons offensive front lacking the ability to dominate physically.
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Former No. 9 Pick Would Bring Nastiness to Falcons
During an edition of his weekly online mailbag, Falcons Digital Managing Editor Scott Bair mentioned free agent Ereck Flowers as a possibility: “I’m never a fan of wildly guessing at who might come in – we don’t know who’s going to get cut, either – but guard Ereck Flowers is a name we all know. Michael Schofield is another prospect who is on the street.”
Flowers spent last season in Washington, where he started 16 games and helped Antonio Gibson rush for 1,037 yards. Bringing his 6’6″, 330-pound frame to bear in the running game is the hallmark of Flowers’ playing style, like on this play last season against his first team, the New York Giants, relayed by The Hog Sty Network analyst Jamual:
Brute-force blocking helped revive his career after a disappointing spell with the Giants, who drafted Flowers ninth overall seven years ago. That dismal tenure ended in 2018, after Flowers had struggled mightily at both tackle spots:
Flowers began to turn his career around once he was shifted inside to left guard by line coach Bill Callahan during the player’s first spell with Washington in 2019. A move to the Miami Dolphins a year later only lasted one season before Flowers returned to the nation’s capital.
He showed improved footwork and movement skills. Not only in run matchups, but also in space, like when leading the way on this screen pass to Gibson against the Buffalo Bills from last season:
The Falcons have an obvious need for a guard with Flowers’ raw power and mean streak.
Falcons Lack Physical Edge Up Front
Head coach Arthur Smith is trying to make the Falcons a more physically dominant team. It’s a trend evident at the skill positions, where the team has recruited towering wide receivers like 6’4″ rookie Drake London, 2022’s eighth-overall pick. He’s joined free agents, 6’5″ Auden Tate and 6’3″ Geronimo Allison.
There’s also more physicality in the backfield, where this year’s fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier will work with veteran Damien Williams. Allgeier is a 224-pound bruiser, while 221-pounder Williams will split some carries with the returning 6’2″, 220-pound Cordarrelle Patterson.
Add in fullback Keith Smith, a punishing blocker, and the Falcons can replicate the same power running attack Smith called as offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans in 2019 and ’20. That is if the O-line can maul enough people in the trenches.
Recent history suggests the men up front will struggle. Last season’s starters allowed 40 sacks, while Atlanta running backs averaged 4.3 yards per carry.
One of the main culprits for the struggles was left guard Jalen Mayfield. The numbers from his rookie campaign made for grim reading, according to Sports4Nerds:
There’s obviously room for a blocker with Flowers’ experience, strength and tough demeanor.