The Atlanta Falcons went a combined 21-11 in 2016 and 2017, with a Super Bowl appearance in 2016. However, they fell to a mere 4-9 thirteen games into last season before a three-game winning streak ended on a positive note on an otherwise disappointing campaign. Ranked a solid 10th on offense averaging 25.9 points per game, the Falcons were just 25th on defense, allowing 26.4 per contest. Surprisingly, the Falcons went with only two defensive players in their top five selections of the NFL Draft. Here’s a run down of those five picks.
Round 1 (14th) Chris Lindstrom (G) Boston College
Lindstrom played in all 12 games as a freshman, starting the last three. Entrenched as the starter for every game at right guard his sophomore season, Lindstrom gained notice as a junior, playing both guard and tackle and was named to All-ACC second team. Staring all 12 games at right guard as a senior, Lindstrom was first team All-ACC and was recognized by the Associated Press.
With defense a major issue last season, the selection of Lindstrom is a bit of a puzzling one. Granted, the Falcons wanted to add youth to the line and a tackle is generally the choice for a pick this early. However, Lindstrom possesses intelligence, strength, durability and toughness which is much needed to a line that saw Matt Ryan on his back far too many times last season.
Round 1 (31st) Kaleb McGary (OT) Washington
McGary started at right tackle for Washington in six games in 2015. After starting every game during his sophomore year, McGary was first-team All-Pac-12 in 2017 and again during 14 games as a senior for the Pac-12 championship team.
Staying with the theme of adding youth to the offensive line, the Falcons could have hit the jackpot with McGary. He has huge size at 6’ 7” and 317 pounds. McGary displays a great work ethic and desire to be the best to keep defenders away from Matt Ryan. While it isn’t etched in stone that McGary will start this coming season, he will likely be the man at right tackle.
Round 4 (111th) Kendall Sheffield (CB) Ohio State
Sheffield played a season at Blinn Junior College in 2016 before transferring to Ohio State, appearing in all 14 games in 2017, recording 40 tackles. As a junior, Sheffield was named honorable mention All-Big Ten after registering 35 tackles and two interceptions.
Sheffield has excellent speed, who reportedly ran a sub 4.3 40 at Ohio State. After the Falcons’ secondary became depleted , the need to upgrade was very real. One issue moving forward could be a torn pectoral muscle sustained in March, but if he comes in to training camp healthy, should be a solid contributor this season, particularly on third down passing situations.
Round 4 (135th) John Cominsky (DE) Charleston
Cominsky had an immediate impact at Charleston, with 37 tackles, three passes defensed and four sacks in 2015. As a sophomore his tackles increased to 41 but he registered just 2.5 sacks. His most dominating season was as a junior after nearly doubling his total tackles to 73, five passes defensed and 6.5 sacks. After a 55 tackle senior season, Cominsky did enough to get attention of the scouts despite playing for a Division II school.
Cominsky has come a long way from being an option quarterback in college. At 280 pounds, Cominsky is a bit undersized on the line, but brings high intensity and could move inside to play tackle, as well as be an asset on special teams. It’s uncertain as to Cominsky’s exact role in 2019, but the Falcons have an intriguing player who likely to contribute in a variety of ways.
Round 5 (152nd) Qadree Ollison (RB) Pittsburgh
Ollison had a productive first year at Pittsburgh, making second-team All-ACC after gaining 1,121 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and 5.3 yards per carry. However, the next two seasons Ollison’s playing time and production decreased to a combined 510 yards rushing on 123 carries and seven touchdowns. He was second-team All-ACC are a senior, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Ollison has good size at 6’ 2” and 225 pounds. A good role for him would be to provide power in short yardage situations and some production in the passing game. Ollison could be a good chance of pace back behind DeVonta Freeman and Ito Smith.