The Atlanta Falcons were expected by most NFL experts and fans to draft a defensive tackle or offensive tackle with pick number 14 in the 2019 NFL Draft. Instead they shocked the NFL by drafting guard Chris Lindstrom with their first round pick.
Atlanta Falcons fans tuned into the NFL draft with eager anticipation, waiting to see who the team would pick. As the picks progressed, several guys who were rumored to be targeted by Atlanta came off of the board. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver was taken at pick number nine by the Buffalo Bills. Read our scouting report on Oliver here. Offensive tackle Jonah Williams was drafted number 11 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Read about the strengths and weaknesses of Williams by clicking here. Defensive end Rashan Gary, who many projected to be a top 10 pick, was selected number 12 landing in Green Bay. Then finally defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was drafted one pick prior to Atlanta’s selection at number 13. He was thought to be very high on the Falcons draft board. Here is the breakdown of Wilkins.
As the Atlanta Falcons were on the clock, debates raged on 92.9 the game and social media. Defensive end Montez Sweat was still on the board. Read about Sweat here. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, who we drafted in the Atl All Day Mock Draft, was still available too. Check out the Dexter Lawrence scouting report. In addition, edge rusher Brian Burns was also there for the taking. Read the Burns breakdown by clicking here. Instead, the Falcons shocked almost everyone by taking the number one guard in the draft, Chris Lindstrom of Boston College.
Chris Lindstrom is a 6’4 308 pound offensive guard. He comes from a football family with his father, uncle and younger brother all playing at Boston College. Lindstrom became a starter three games into his freshman season and never looked back. In his junior season Lindstrom spent most of his time as a right tackle, though he started two games at right guard. He elevated his game and was named All ACC Second Team. Chris moved back to right guard as a senior and continued to improve. He earned a spot on the All ACC First Team. He was also named by the Associated Press as a Third Team All American.
This video is an example of what Chris Lindstrom brings to the table, provided by the ACC Digital Network via YouTube:
Chris Lindstrom is extremely quick and athletic. He ran a sub 5.0 40 yard dash and has great lateral quickness. He excels as a pulling guard and is great at getting to the second level. He has unusual flexibility for an offensive lineman as well. Lindstrom is a physical and aggressive player who is also technically sound. Pass blocking is his best skill. He has decent strength, lifting 225 pounds 25 times at the combine, but needs to get stronger to handle the massive defensive tackles in the NFL. Chris can sometimes lose leverage at the point of attack, by getting his pad level too high. He needs to dish out, rather than take punishment at the snap. Lindstrom also does not always use his length to his advantage.
Pro Football Focus rated Chris Lindstrom their number one guard in the 2019 NFL Draft class, and the third interior offensive lineman overall. Chris Lindstrom allowed seven sacks in his college career, but he did not allow any this past season. In fact he only allowed four pressures all year-long. A really encouraging sign for the Falcons, is the fact that Chris committed only one penalty in 2018 and just seven during his time at Boston College.
Lindstrom earned an overall PFF grade of 75.6. The grade could have been much higher had he not graded 70.7 as a run blocker. His run block success rate of 91.8 percent, ranks number 21 among interior linemen in this draft class. He was phenomenal as a pass blocker, earning a grade of 90.4. A terrific pass blocking efficiency rating of 99.5, was number two among draft eligible guards and centers.
Pro Football Focus gives us this Draft Profile on Chris Lindstrom, in this video on their YouTube channel:
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com had Chris Lindstrom rated his number two guard behind Cody Ford, who is still available after round one. He projected Lindstrom to be a second round pick and compared him to Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio of the Cleveland Browns. He offered the following summary of Lindstrom’s game:
"Lindstrom is one of the most athletic interior lineman in the 2019 draft with a rare ability to match movement quickness with anyone across from him. His quickness can place him in position to make blocks on both the first and second levels and he has an impressive ability to cover lateral space and protect his gaps as a pass blocker. Lindstrom is scrappy at the point of attack but lacks the length, mass and strength some teams will want. His final destination could be as a guard/center in a zone scheme where he can become a long-time starter."
Rather than selecting the fifth defense end, third defense tackle, second offensive tackle, or first cornerback, the Atlanta Falcons decided to take the best offensive guard in the draft. I certainly applaud the effort to finally fix the offensive line. On the other hand the move was surprising, with the fact that Atlanta signed guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown to contracts totalling nearly 40 million dollars this offseason. I raised my concerns about their 2018 play in this article. Apparently general manager Thomas Dimitroff was concerned too, as now only one of the new signees is likely to start. Lindstrom should improve the horrid pass blocking that the Atlanta has dealt with the last two seasons. Yet I do believe he will struggle against the bull rush from division foes such as Sheldon Rankins and Kawann Short. I also question rather he will help the team’s short yardage running game much in year one. Ultimately Lindstrom should be a very good pro offensive lineman and could even take over for Alex Mack at center one day.
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