Atlanta made a big splash in the 2019 draft when they seemingly “reached” on a pair of offensive line prospects. Chris Lindstrom was selected 14th overall out of Boston College, and then GM Thomas Dimitroff traded a 2nd (45) and 3rd (79) round pick in the same draft to Los Angeles to select Kaleb McGary at 31 out of Washington. Each guy had a troubling start to their careers, but both seem to have found something in 2020.
McGary had a heart condition flare-up in camp, but thankfully, he was cleared and started all 16 games for Atlanta at right tackle. He had some memorable games for a rookie, but he still gave up way too many sacks and needed to improve as a run-blocker.
Unfortunately, 2020 didn’t get off to the best start either. McGary was injured in the game against Dallas, but somehow, he only missed one start with an MCL sprain, and since, he’s been the best Falcons offensive lineman.
Kaleb McGary this season:
117 pass blocking snaps
1 pressure allowed pic.twitter.com/vJrqwEDuIX
— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) October 6, 2020
Top-5 #Falcons PFF Offensive Grades vs. Vikings
1. QB Matt Ryan – 85.6
2. WR Julio Jones – 83.1
3. RT Kaleb McGary – 80.7
4. C Alex Mack – 73.7
5. WR Russell Gage – 70.2
— Evan Birchfield (@EvanBirchfield) October 19, 2020
McGary seemed like a reach at the time, but he’s developing quite nicely. His season grade of 75.4 ranks 20th out of 75 offensive tackles in football — and he’s actually ranked higher than Jake Matthews.
Chris Lindstrom also had his fair share of issues, but they were less of his fault. The guard out of Boston College suffered a foot injury in Week 1 that landed him on IR until Week 14. When he was on the field, he was imposing.
Chris Lindstrom finished with enough snaps to qualify and ended his rookie season as the 21st overall guard with a 66.6 PFF grade.
The future is bright for the #Falcons RG.
— #BringMeBieniemy (@mattkaroly) January 4, 2020
On 363 pass blocking snaps last season, Chris Lindstrom allowed 0 sacks, 0 QB hits, and only 4 hurries!
— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) April 26, 2019
So far in 2020, Lindstrom’s been healthy, and his ranking with PFF is just as impressive as McGary’s, grading out at a 69. That’s good enough to place him 19th among 76 eligible guards.
With Atlanta’s pass protection being a sore spot for so long and run game almost non-existent — it’s promising to see two first-round picks developing nicely. Whoever is coaching this team next will be getting two high-quality young pieces, and hopefully, Matt Hennessey can join this trend and contribute sooner rather than later.