During this week’s NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons built up assets to help construct the future of their franchise.
The Atlanta Falcons, coming off a disappointing 2018 campaign, had four major needs going into the draft at edge, offensive tackle, linebacker, and cornerback.
Upgrading the offensive line was of utmost importance as Matt Ryan was a hit a record 108 times and sacked 42 times. The Falcons also had trouble running the ball effectively.
But the Falcons weren’t done retooling the offensive line as they selected another offensive lineman in Kaleb McGary from Washington with the 30th pick in the first round via a trade with the Rams.
The Falcons then focused on the defensive side of the ball as they selected Kendall Sheffield in round four along with defensive linemen John Cominsky. In round five, the Falcons picked up cornerback Jordan Miller from Washington. The Falcons were 27th in the league last year by giving up 259 yards a game in the passing game and overall the Falcons gave up 384 yards a game, so help on the defensive side was a tremendous need.
The Falcons also added a running back in the fifth round in Qadree Ollison, who should be a contributor right away. Marcus Green, a wide receiver, was the sixth-round pick of the Falcons and he should step in and contribute immediately in the return game.
Round 1, Selection 13
Chris Lindstrom, Guard, Boston College
Lindstrom immediately becomes the most athletic lineman on the Falcons roster, as he is an excellent zone blocker and can hold his own on the inside. He can play both guard and tackle, but will likely start the season at left guard. The Boston College product will bolster the interior of the offensive line with his very high motor, working through blocks past the whistle. Lindstrom’s ability at both run and pass blocking make him an immediate starter.
Round 1, Selection 31
Kaleb McGary, Tackle, Washington
Kaleb McGary is 6-foot-7 and 317 pounds, with a nasty streak about him. Originally a defensive tackle, McGary made the switch to the offensive side of the ball under coach Chris Petersen. He Started 47 out of 53 possible games over the last four years, and was voted best offensive linemen in the PAC 12 by opposing defensive linemen. McGary will surely step in and start at right tackle, pushing Ty Sambrailo to the bench.
Round 4, Selection 111
Kendall Sheffield, Cornerback, Ohio State
Originally projected to go in the third round, Kendall Sheffield is one of the quicker corners in the draft with 4.35 speed in the 40. Sheffield was a star track and field athlete at Ohio State, running a 6.6 in the 60-yard dash. He is very physical and plays best in press man coverage. However, he has limited starting experience and could be somewhat of a project. Something worth noting is that star track and field athletes have had a tough time finding true success in the NFL, so it will be interesting to see if Sheffield can be one to change that statistic. Regardless, his speed should be a key component on special teams. As holds true for many later round talents, he will need work to become an every-down back.
Round 4, Selection 135
John Cominsky, Defensive Tackle, Charleston
Signed as a 216-pound quarterback, John Cominsky built himself into a 285-pound defensive end. One of the few division-two players to get an invite to the Senior Bowl, Cominsky is the first player in the history of Charleston’s program to be drafted into the NFL. He had 140 tackles in the last two seasons, 39.5 of which were for a loss. He added 9.5 sacks as well. His tape seems to show he is better stopping the run than being a pass rusher, but he has good upside and good potential. Cominsky should fit nicely into the Falcons defensive line rotation as their unit underperformed last year.
Round 5, Selection 152
Qadree Ollison, Running Back, Pittsburgh
A big back at 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, Qadree Ollison has good foot speed but not breakaway speed. Ollison finished his career with 2859 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns at Pitt. He is more effective inside running the ball, as he will not shy away from contact, but struggles with pass catching. This is a good pickup, considering the Falcons needed another back to replace Tevin Coleman who was lost in free agency. Ollison will be a nice compliment to Devonta Freeman and a good change of pace back.
Round 5, Selection 172
Jordan Miller, Cornerback, Washington
Jordan Miller started 12 games for the Huskies this past season, posting 26 tackles, two for a loss, two interceptions, six pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. Miller, the second player from Washington drafted by Atlanta this year, is a good run press corner with 4.49 speed in the 40. However, he is not as strong as he needs to be and tends to not be very physical and he needs to work on his tackling. With teams deploying five defensive backs the majority of the time, this was not a horrible pick for the Falcons.
Round 6, Selection 203
Marcus Green, Wide Receiver, Louisiana Monroe
Marcus Green is undersized for a receiver at just 5-foot-8 but has blazing speed. Green is a jack-of-all-trades type of receiver, as he will help the Falcons in the return game and can also run and catch the ball out of the backfield. He was excellent in the return game in college, returning 70 kicks for four touchdowns and 28 punts for one touchdown in his college career. His biggest impact with Atlanta will be on special teams.
Draft In Review:
The Falcons did not address the need at linebacker and also failed to snag a defensive lineman early, which should be a disappointment to many fans. It will also be a while before the defensive backs the Falcons drafted will be able to be impact players on this defense.
Overall Grade: C