Arthur Smith: You don’t need five first-round picks to have a good offensive line

USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons seem likely to go into the regular season with Marcus Mariota as their starting quarterback over third-round pick Desmond Ridder.

But there’s still a lot to be determined about who will line up in front of whoever’s calling the signals.

Two positions along Atlanta’s offensive line appear to be set: left tackle Jake Matthews and right guard Chris Lindstrom. But other than that, there are questions at left guard, center, and right tackle.

Head coach Arthur Smith sees the offensive line as “a developmental position, and you find guys any way you can.” That means he doesn’t see it as a group where the Falcons can use high picks to draft their way into success up front.

“If you look at people that have had a sustained run of success … it certainly helps them … if you feel great and you take a guy in [the] first round. But it’s not like you need five first-rounders to be a good offensive line,” Smith said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You need the right guys in there with the chemistry who can play. Versatility is key. It’s a long season. It’s 17 games. You’ve got eight guys up on game day. Guys [must] be able to play multiple spots.”

The team is likely to have Jalen Mayfield, a third-round pick from 2021, at left guard — though he didn’t excel as a rookie. Right tackle Kaleb McGary also struggled through 2021 and had his fifth-year option declined this spring. Matt Hennessy and Drew Dalman are set to compete at center.

But the Falcons also signed German Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson to push the players already on the team. And Atlanta drafted guard Justin Shaffer in the sixth round, so he has an outside shot at becoming an instant starter.

5 responses to “Arthur Smith: You don’t need five first-round picks to have a good offensive line

  1. That’s funny because the Pats have won 6SBs withouth this being the case whatsoever. In fact, numerous players were drafted in the mid or late rounds, or totally undrafted.

    Is this guy trying to get fired?

  2. You need really good coaching to build an Oline out of twigs and duct tape. You ain’t got that, Arthur.

  3. Look at the Eagles offensive line, one of the best in the league every year. Yes, they do have a 1st rounder starting at right tackle but they have a 7th round pick starting at left tackle. Their previous long term left tackle, Jason Peters was a converted TE.

    A big part is having a great offensive line coach such as Jeff Stoutland.

  4. eagleswin says:
    July 20, 2022 at 11:02 am
    Look at the Eagles offensive line, one of the best in the league every year. Yes, they do have a 1st rounder starting at right tackle but they have a 7th round pick starting at left tackle. Their previous long term left tackle, Jason Peters was a converted TE.

    A big part is having a great offensive line coach such as Jeff Stoutland.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Smart teams understand it’s “draft and actually develop,” not “draft and draft and keep on drafting until something sticks no matter how many promising young kids we chew through on the way.”

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