The Falcons have drafted Boston College guard Chris Lindstorm with their first selection, which is one of the more surprising picks of an evening full of them.
With a board filled with edge rushers like Brian Burns and Montez Sweat, cornerbacks like Greedy Williams and DeAndre Baker, and tackles like Andre Dillard and Jawaan Taylor, Lindstorm barely crossed my mind as a possibility. He’s easily one of the best guards in this class, but the Falcons just stocked up on guards with James Carpenter and Jamon Brown and still had Wes Schweitzer and Brandon Fusco under contract. To say this is a surprise pick is severely understating it.
Lindstrom is the obvious favorite to start at one of the guard spots in 2019 unless the Falcons have randomly decided he’s a tackle, though we don’t yet know which spot that will be. Their guard depth chart will be significantly better than it was a year ago, but with a host of quality tackles and edge players left, Lindstrom will have to be excellent more or less immediately to fend of fans who are not going to be particularly happy about this turn of events.
Where Chris Lindstrom fits
As a tremendous athlete who has some experience across the line, Lindstrom is appealing for a Falcons team with multiple needs and too many stopgaps. The early guess is that he’ll take the right guard away from Jamon Brown, who might mix in at tackle with Ty Sambrailo now, but it’s possible the Falcons view him as a long-term starter at left guard or even center, where Alex Mack is aging. That’s both the beautiful and bewildering thing about the addition: Lindstrom won’t be a surprise no matter where he ends up.
It goes without saying that he’ll start immediately, though, given that he’s a top 16 selection and the Falcons aren’t exactly world beaters along the offensive line. It’s just so (and here I go again) surprising to see the team sink free agent dollars into guard and then draft one, especially this early. The Falcons got a player with ten-year starter upside and dream athleticism for their interior line—or I guess tackle we’re all finding this out together—but he has to be great to justify the pick. He has to be.
Jamon Brown more or less has to be in the running for the right tackle job or the Falcons just did a very dumb thing with their free agent dollars. Ty Sambrailo is making quality swing tackle money, as he should, but parking a guard making serious money on the bench and then absorbing some dead money for Fusco feels like lunacy. If the Falcons were locked in on Chris Lindstrom at #14, they had to know they would have a very good shot at him at that spot, and they didn’t need to spend the money.
If Lindstrom lives up to his billing—some analysts love this guy—then all will be well in Atlanta no matter how they have to juggle the line in the end. But clarity is going to help us all understand this pick better, for certain.