It’s clear that the Falcons view Jalen Mayfield as the future of the left guard position. They wouldn’t have used a third-round pick on him if that wasn’t the case. It’s also clear that Mayfield is going to take some time to get up to speed, though. And that’s fine.
After playing exclusively at offensive tackle during his time at Michigan, expecting him to change position and be ready for week one was always going to be optimistic.
Enter Kelechi Osemele.
Osemele was a college left tackle at Iowa State. He was then drafted in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 (five picks after Peter Konz). He started his career with the Ravens at right tackle before moving to left guard.
Osemele impressed, moving to the Oakland Raiders in free agency in 2016 and earning what was then the most lucrative contract ever given to a guard.
He impressed with the Raiders and was selected for consecutive Pro Bowls in 2016 and 2017. A trade to the New York Jets followed in 2019, but injuries took their toll, and Osemele was cut after just three games.
He signed with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs during the preseason last year and it looked like a win for both sides.
Osemele started the season at left guard and performed well, looking like a competent starter who still belonged on the field. Unfortunately, the injury would once again rear its ugly head. He tore tendons in both knees in a freak non-contact injury as Patrick Mahomes scrambled to keep a play alive and his season was over.
“But that sounds like a very serious injury”, I hear you say. And it is. So why would the Falcons be interested? Well, Nick Jacobs of Kansas City’s 41 Action News tweeted out a video of Osemele working out in March and he wasn’t moving like a man who wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season.
Osemele might not be the player that he once was but he’s a natural left guard. The Falcons could then take it slow with Mayfield, who could learn from a player who followed a similar journey. Osemele has had success in a similar zone blocking schemes under Andy Reid in Kansas City and Gary Kubiak in Baltimore.
He’ll be 32 by the time the season starts so he’s certainly not a long-term answer but the Atlanta Falcons aren’t looking for a long-term answer as they believe they already have one in Mayfield. Osemele on a one-year deal would instantly upgrade the offensive line. Matt Ryan would be very appreciative.