Falcons on guard for more offensive line help

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan made sure to mention something the other day while singing the praises of new center Alex Mack and recently re-signed right tackle Ryan Schraeder.

"I guess our one area of concern where we're just not settled yet is that right guard spot," Ryan said.

Indeed, the Falcons do not have a solid starter at right guard at the moment. Last year's starter, veteran Chris Chester, remains on the open market as a free agent, although Chester wants to continue his playing career and wouldn't mind returning to Atlanta.

Mike Person, who had a failed experiment at center last season, will be in the right guard mix, but the team is not sold on him providing stability at the position. And Ted Larsen was a guy the Falcons considered signing to compete for a starting role, but Larsen instead signed with the Chicago Bears.

So what's the answer? It's looking like the draft, if not Chester. The Falcons have worked out a number of guard prospects including Washington State's Joe Dahl, Michigan's Graham Glasgow, North Carolina State's Joe Thuney, and Michigan State's Jack Allen, just to name a few. Glasgow visited Atlanta, too. The Falcons also have an eye on Stanford's Joshua Garnett.

There appears to be strong interest in UCLA offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch as potentially a guard prospect, according to multiple sources. Benenoch was a big focus of attention when the Falcons worked out players at UCLA a few weeks ago. The Bruins right tackle worked out in front of coach Dan Quinn, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, assistant GM Scott Pioli, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, offensive line coach Chris Morgan and director of college scouting Steve Sabo. Benenoch, projected as a later-round pick, can played four of the five spots on the offensive line.

We'll see how things progress for the Falcons in their search for a right guard. They currently have five drafts picks and seem destined to address defensive needs first, with the need for more speed at linebacker, more consistent pass rush off the edge, and more playmaking ability at strong safety.

The last time the Falcons drafted a guard in a higher round was in 2010 when they selected Mike Johnson in the third round out of Alabama. Injuries kept Johnson's career from ever materializing.