The Atlanta Falcons overachieved relative to expectations heading into the 2021 season last year in large part because of the improvement of their offensive line.
No player was more improved last season than fourth-year offensive tackle Kaleb McGary who earned himself a lucrative-free agent deal from the Falcons in March.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) compiled the most underrated player from every team, and they chose McGary who starred for the Falcons last season.
McGary was another offensive lineman who took a big step forward in 2022, besting his previous career-high 64.3 overall grade from 2020 with an 86.6 overall grade last season, the fourth-best among all tackles. With a 91.6 run-blocking grade, McGary trailed only Trent Williams in run-blocking grade from a tackle position last season, and Atlanta rewarded him with a new three-year contract this offseason.William Moy, PFF
It’s hard to call McGary underrated any more because of the attention he got during the season for his improvement. Much has been made of the fact that McGary finished as the fourth-highest graded tackle in the NFL last year.
We suggest a different name for Atlanta’s most underrated player… Desmond Ridder.
If he’s not the most underrated, he’s certainly the most disrespected. Despite the flurry of moves the Falcons have made this offseason, every national pundit eventually says the same thing… “yeah, but Desmond Ridder.”
The Falcons are a bottom-five team on most power rankings because of… Desmond Ridder.
Are there questions around Ridder’s long-term ability to lead the Falcons? Sure, but why is that question always answered with an automatic negative outside of Atlanta?
Because he was a third-round pick?
Ridder had four starts last season. He went 2-2 in those starts, and in his final three he had a 94.4 quarterback rating. A 94.4 would have put him ahead of the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Justin Fields, Derek Carr, Kyler Murray and more…
The national media thinks he can’t play in this league. If he finishes any where near the 94.4 he posted in his last-three starts, he’s easily the Falcons most underrated player… and they’ll be talking playoffs in Atlanta in 2023.