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2019 NFC South draft review: Atlanta Falcons

An overview of the Atlanta Falcons' 2019 draft class:
Round 1, No. 14 overall: Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College
Round 1, No. 31 overall: Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
Round 4, No. 111 overall: Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State
Round 4, No. 135 overall: John Cominsky, DE, Charleston
Round 5, No. 152 overall: Qadree Ollison, RB, Pittsburgh
Round 5, No. 172 overall: Jordan Miller, CB, Washington
Round 6, No. 203 overall: Marcus Green, WR, Louisiana-Monroe

The Falcons drafted two offensive lineman in the first round. After selecting Chris Lindstrom, a 6-foot-4, 308-pound guard out of Boston College with the 14th overall pick, the Falcons traded up into Round 1, clearing a path to acquire Washington Huskie offensive tackle Kaleb McGary with the 31st selection. The trade sent the franchise’s picks for Round 2 (45th overall) and Round 3 (79th) to the Los Angeles Rams. With two fourth round picks, the Falcons shifted their focus to the defensive side of the ball, selecting a cornerback and defensive end. In total, Atlanta drafted seven players, four on the offensive side of the ball while adding three defensive newcomers.

Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked 42 times last season, the second-most times in his 11-year career, so the Falcons used their two first-round picks to get protection up front for their franchise quarterback. Last season at Ryan’s alma mater, Chris Lindstrom allowed no sacks, no hits and only four hurries on 363 pass-blocking snaps. Atlanta finished ranked 26th in the league last season, allowing 108 QB hits. Lindstrom, who finished with All-ACC First Team honors in 2018, has an opportunity to help the Falcons improve that ranking heading into the 2019 campaign.

Although Kaleb McGary will have an opportunity to contribute to the Falcons’ pass-protection game, his specialty is run blocking. According to ProFootballFocus, McGary’s run blocking grade ranked No. 1 on zone runs among PAC-12 tackles last season. The 6-8, 324-pound right tackle appeared in 52 games with 46 starts for the Huskies from 2015-18. He is the winner of the 2018 Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman (as voted by opposing team players) in the PAC-12.

The Falcons selected Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield with the ninth pick in the fourth round. Sheffield transferred from Blinn College to Ohio State prior to the 2017 season. In two seasons with the Buckeyes, Sheffield totaled 28 games played, with 75 tackles, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and 17 pass deflections. In Atlanta’s post-draft press conference, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said of Sheffield, “This guy can fly. He is one of the faster guys in this year’s draft. We’ve also talked about him as a return specialist as well, but that’s not his background.” Sheffield did not run at the scouting combine in Indianapolis earlier this year.

Twenty-four picks after selecting Sheffield, Atlanta drafted John Cominsky, a defensive end out of Division II Charleston. Cominsky is an Ohio native that was a 215-pound dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school. He didn’t receive one Division I scholarship offer. Cominsky was moved to defensive line as a redshirt freshman at Charleston and now is 6-5 and 286 pounds. He was the Mountain East Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 by posting 67 tackles, 16.5 for loss, three sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Running back Qadree Ollison out of Pittsburgh was selected with the 14th pick in the fifth round. Ollison is a tall, powerful back that measures in at 6-2 and 225 pounds. A starter in all 14 games during Pitt's 2018 campaign, Ollison enjoyed a prolific senior season and was named All-ACC Second Team. He posted 1,213 yards and 11 touchdowns on 194 carries (6.25 avg.), while ranked second in the ACC in total rushing yards. After the departure of Tevin Coleman in free agency, Ollison adds depth to the Atlanta running game.

The Falcons added two cornerbacks on Day 3 of the draft, with Washington product Jordan Miller being the second. A collegiate teammate of first-rounder Kaleb McGary, Miller played in 46 games for the Huskies, racking up 61 tackles, six interceptions, 18 pass deflections, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

With the final pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Falcons selected wide out Marcus Green of Louisiana-Monroe. Last season, Green returned 19 kickoffs for 385 yards with a long of 43 yards. He also returned five punts for 85 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown return. The 5-foot-8, 191-pound Green ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro day.

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