The Atlanta Falcons entered the 2023 NFL draft with one hole along their offensive line. But it didn’t take general manager Terry Fontenot very long to fill it.
The Falcons traded their second-round pick at No. 44 overall and a fourth-round choice (No. 110 overall) to the Indianapolis Colts to move up to the No. 38 pick. With that selection, the Falcons chose Syracuse offensive tackle Matthew Bergeron.
Early indications are the Falcons expect Bergeron to slide inside to guard.
“Bergeron played tackle almost exclusively, but some shortcomings as an edge protector had some teams projecting him inside,” NFL.com’s Eric Edholm wrote. “This is one of the best run-blocking prospects in this class. Atlanta’s first-round pick Bijan Robinson should be happy.”
So should Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who arguably loves the running game more than any other offensive play caller in the league.
If Bergeron successfully switches inside, he is a great fit in Atlanta’s offense. The Falcons recorded 559 rushing attempts last season, which was more than any other team.
Atlanta opened the 2023 draft picking running back Bijan Robinson at No. 8 overall in the first round. With inexperienced quarterback Desmond Ridder expected to start and a stable of great running backs, the Falcons may run even more in 2023.
Bergeron should help the Falcons offensive line to continue opening holes for the running game.
Starting left tackle Jake Matthews and right tackle Kaleb McGary have contracts running through at least the 2025 season. So there’s no job for Bergeron to win at tackle even if Fontenot projected him for that spot.
But the team’s starting left guard Elijah Wilkerson departed for the Arizona Cardinals in free agency. Bergeron should receive an opportunity to compete with Matt Hennseey and Jalen Mayfield for the starting left guard role.
Editor Scott Kennedy wrote on April 28 before the selection that with the Falcons, Bergeron would probably start “right away.” Kennedy also wrote Bergeron has “the ability to slide outside to tackle” later in his career.