Round 1, No. 14 overall: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
My take: Owner Arthur Blank made it clear before the draft that the Falcons needed to get younger along the offensive line. But it’s still somewhat of a surprise to see a guard selected with the 14th overall pick. Usually, an offensive lineman taken that high is a tackle. Right now, there are no plans to move Lindstrom to tackle even though he played there during the 2017 college season. A variety of folks who scouted Lindstrom said he’s extremely tough, and the Falcons sorely need toughness up front to not only open holes in the running game but to protect Matt Ryan, who was sacked 42 times last season — the second-most times in his career. Lindstrom is also known for intelligence.
What about Cody Ford? The Falcons were very high on Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford, who might be the toughest offensive linemen in the draft. But the Falcons obviously were convinced about Lindstrom after a contingent of coach Dan Quinn, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, and about eight others went to Boston College and put Lindstrom through an hour and a half workout. It didn’t matter that the team added two starting-caliber guards in free agency with 30-year-old James Carpenter and 26-year-old Jamon Brown. The Falcons are sold on Lindstrom making an immediate impact in new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s system, which may include more of a gap scheme rather than the outside zone.
Missing on Wilkins: There was a lot of buzz early Thursday about the Falcons having strong interest in Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Whether that’s true or not, Wilkins went to the Miami Dolphins one pick ahead at No. 13.
Round 1, No. 31 overall: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
My take: The Falcons needed a tough offensive tackle and went with McGary, who made a top 30 visit to Atlanta and also had a private workout with the team. McGary (6-foot-7, 317 pounds) could be the guy at right tackle, since returning player Ty Sambrailo is viewed more as a backup. One scout called McGary a reach, and even McGary admitted he thought he’d go in the second round.
“They’re getting a guy who is very prideful about being a lineman,” McGary said. “I love everything about being a lineman. I’m going to bust my tail and protect [Matt Ryan].”
Round 4, No. 111 overall: Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State
My take: There’s no doubt the Falcons needed to target a cornerback in the fourth round after being left without a pick in the third round. Sheffield (5 feet 11, 193 pounds), who claimed to run a 4.26 40 at Ohio State, brings speed and another body to the secondary after the Falcons cut starting cornerback Robert Alford and lost primary nickel back Brian Poole in free agency to the New York Jets. The big concern here is Sheffield suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle while bench pressing in March and is rehabbing. Sheffield told the media he’ll be ready, but Falcons followers know a pectoral injury led to a lost season for starting cornerback Desmond Trufant . If Sheffield is healthy, he could be a great asset, with how much nickel defense is played. One scout praised Sheffield’s speed, but said he’s coming off a rough year. Sheffield’s path included redshirting at Alabama, then transferring to Blinn junior college before landing at Ohio State for two years.
Round 4, No. 135 overall: John Cominsky, DE, Charleston
My take: On paper, this looks like a pretty shrewd move by the Falcons. Cominsky, an Ohio native, comes from Division II Charleston and didn’t get any Division I scholarship offers. But he sounds confident after growing from a 215-pound option quarterback to a 280-pound defensive end. The Falcons need to put some heat on pass-rushers Vic Beasley Jr. and Takk McKinley, former first-rounders. So maybe a player such as Cominsky will fuel the fire a little bit. He sounds willing to play on the kickoff team right now, which tells you how motivated he is. Let’s see if he can bring that high motor to the defensive line and create pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Not to mention Cominsky has enough size to kick inside and play tackle, the type of versatility defensive line guru Dan Quinn always desires.
Round 5, No. 152 overall: Qadree Ollison, RB, Pittsburgh
My take: Take a look at the highlight tape of Ollison’s 97-yard touchdown run and end zone flip and it gives fans reason to be excited. But this pick is not about a guy who is going to be explosive in the open field. This is about a 6-foot-2, 225-pound back who can complement the shiftiness of DeVonta Freeman and Ito Smith with straight power. The Falcons need a guy who can bang in short-yardage situation, especially based on Freeman’s injury history. If Ollison can bring that power game, this will be a win. Said one NFC running backs coach of Ollison: “To be honest, I had him in the seventh-round to free-agent range. He runs tough. I just thought he was really stiff and gives you little in the pass game.”
Round 5, No. 172 overall: Jordan Miller, CB, Washington
My take: The Falcons added two cornerbacks on Day 3, with Miller being the second. He’s a big corner at 6-foot-1, 186 pounds. His six bench-press reps at the combine indicate he needs to get much stronger to go up against physical receivers. Miller told the Atlanta media he’s a long enough corner to take away part of the field and create turnovers. He dealt with a leg injury two seasons ago and admitted injury problems in college were tough on him. The Falcons just need depth at the cornerback position, so maybe Miller will get stronger, stay healthy, and contribute on special teams and possibly in the rotation. He joins former Washington player Desmond Trufant in the secondary
Round 6, No. 203 overall: Marcus Green, WR, UL Monroe
My take: Dan Quinn said during the combine he wanted to address return specialist in the draft. Although the Falcons signed veteran Kenjon Barner, it looks like Green will get a legit shot at both kickoff and punt returns. Last season, Green returned 19 kickoffs for 385 yards, with a long of 43 yards. He also returned five punts for 85 yards with a long of 71 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons are always about competition, and Green sounds like a guy eager to show that being 5-foot-8 (191 pounds) doesn’t matter when you can play football. If he can utilize his 4.39 speed to have some explosive returns, the Falcons might have their guy after losing All-Pro Andre Roberts a couple seasons ago.