Pro Football Focus have ranked all of the NFL offensive lines, with the Atlanta Falcons coming in at No. 5.
The Falcons offensive line has come a long way in the past couple of seasons. The line played at a high level for much of the 2015 season, and looks to be in a stronger position heading into 2016.
Center was the only real concern for the offensive line last year, and the Falcons are hoping they have put that right with the free agency acquisition of Alex Mack, formerly of the Cleveland Browns.
Pro Football Focus has ranked the Falcons’ starting quintet fifth among all 32 teams.
"“The Falcons have improved greatly over a short period of time. The additions of Levitre and Chester at guard have helped the team in terms of run-blocking. Jake Matthews made huge strides in his second pro season; he allowed 16 combined sacks and hits as a rookie, but dropped that mark to just seven in 2015. Schraeder was the highest-graded right tackle in the league last season. The biggest weakness on the line was center Mike Person, who has been replaced by Alex Mack. If all of these linemen are at their best, the Falcons could move even higher up this list as the season progresses.”"
Ahead of the Falcons are the Cowboys, Raiders, Packers and Bengals. All four of those offensive lines are stacked with talent, and there’s no shame falling behind any of those.
If the Falcons offensive line can play up to this level, the entire offense will benefit. Matt Ryan is a talented quarterback despite his struggles last year, and he has a stronger supporting cast this time around.
Julio Jones is arguably the best wide receiver in all of football. Devonta Freeman put together a breakout season in the backfield last year. With receiver Mohamed Sanu complementing Jones, the development of second-year players Tevin Coleman and Justin Hardy and a second season in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, there is plenty of reason for optimism.
It’s now down to the offensive line to hold their side of the bargain and give Ryan enough time to operate in the pocket, while opening running lanes for Freeman and Coleman to reach their optimum level.
If the offensive line can meet these lofty expectations, the entire offense will improve this season.