It’s impossible to grade a class a couple of days after the draft ends. Several times over the past few years, the Falcons’ brass has been crushed for their array of reaches and questionable decisions. For the most part – those moves have panned out in the Falcons’ favor. Atlanta went into the draft with a plan and specific targets. It was a shocking approach, but Quinn and Dimitroff have earned the benefit of the doubt. With that said, I will try and do the impossible today by projecting what I expect from each of these players in their Falcons’ career.
1st Round, Pick 14 – OG Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Lindstrom was the first head-scratcher of Atlanta’s draft. Widely considered the best guard in this year’s class, he should contribute as a day one starter that will protect Matt Ryan for many years. The two issues I have with this pick are the Falcons probably could have moved back a few spots, picked up an additional early-round pick and made the same selection. If Lindstrom were to be taken by someone else, Atlanta has many other areas of concern that could have been addressed; which brings us to issue number two. Why spend all that money in the offseason on offensive guards and then take another offensive guard with your first pick? I like the player, but the process is perplexing.
1st Round, Pick 31 – OT Kaleb McGary, University of Washington
The Falcons doubled-down on solidifying their offensive line by trading their second and third round selections for OT Kaleb McGary. This was a position on the line that had to be addressed, and I was thinking Atlanta was going to select a tackle with their first pick. Instead, they zeroed in on McGary, who was a staple on the Huskies offensive line for over three years.
The main problem I have here is losing two picks for a player that might have been available in the third round. There are rumors the Patriots were going to take McGary with the 32nd pick; which was Atlanta’s reasoning for the trade up, but who believes anything coming out of New Englands’ camp. The Falcons got their guy, but their guy has severe difficulties dealing with speed coming off the edge, something he will see every week at the NFL Level.
Round 4, Pick 111 – CB Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State
After a non-existent Day 2 of the draft, the Falcons returned to action by finally addressing the defense with their selection of Kendall Sheffield. Sheffield had an intriguing collegiate career that started at Alabama and ended at Ohio State with a pit stop at Blinn College in between. He’s a high-upside prospect with legit 4.3 speed. However, his tape at Ohio State leaves a lot to be desired. It’s going to take him a bit to get acclimated at the next level.
Round 4, Pick 145 – DE John Cominsky, Charleston University
Judging by the way the Falcons drafted, you would think their defensive line was in pristine shape. That could not be further from the truth. Cominsky is a small-school product with plenty of size and upside. Quinn thinks he can play on both the interior and the edge. Several scouts believe he could be a home run in the fourth round. The Falcons better hope so.
Round 5, Pick 152 – RB Qadree Ollison, Pittsburgh
The Falcons had to pick up another RB. If Devonta Freeman goes down, Ito Smith cannot be left to handle the load by himself. Ollison isn’t the most explosive back, but he’s a bonafide bruiser that should be able to contribute in short yardage situations immediately.
Round 5, Pick 172: CB Jordan Miller, University of Washington
Miller is another depth addition at cornerback. He excels in press-man with his long frame but will need to bulk up a bit before becoming a consistent contributor. The Falcons need all the help they can get in the secondary after the departures of Robert Alford and Brian Poole.
Round 6, Pick 203: WR Marcus Green, Louisiana-Monroe
Marcus Green may play wide receiver or running back in the NFL, but more than anything he is a return specialist. The Falcons also added Kenjon Barner this offseason, so now there is some competition for who will be returning punts and kicks in 2019 – an area that has been underwhelming in Atlanta since Devin Hester was let go of.
My main priority for the Falcons this offseason was patching up the right tackle spot. I am confused by the selection of Lindstrom, but he and McGary should sure up the offensive line for a long time. When Matt Ryan has had time in the past, the Falcons’ offense has been elite. Still, it had to be difficult for the Falcons to overlook their defensive line, yet somehow they did. This is going to be a group that struggles mightily again in 2019, and it did not have to be that way when taking into account the Falcons entered the draft with nine picks. It’s mind-boggling and prevents this draft class from getting better than a C+ at first glance.