It would be fair to suggest that the Falcons have surprised us in the first round of the draft for four years running. That started with Keanu Neal, who went a round earlier than he was projected to, and continued with Takkarist McKinley, who relatively few surmised would be a trade-up target for Atlanta. Calvin Ridley was obviously a surprise and so was tonight’s selection, Chris Lindstrom, who is a guard (a position the Falcons hardly ever prioritize in the draft) and was not linked to the Falcons by virtually anyone in the first round.
Given all that—and given how divisive the pick was destined to be—how are Falcons fans feeling early on about the selection?
Alright grade the Chris Lindstrom pick— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) April 26, 2019
As of the time of publication here, over 50% of Falcons fans gave the selection a B. To understand why, you have to get into what’s important to fans and what the Falcons promised they’d do this offseason.
- Lindstrom isn’t just a guard, he’s more or less the consensus best guard in the draft class. Normally those guys go in the second round, but there’s reason to believe the Falcons would’ve been scooped by the Titans, Vikings, or another team down the line if they hadn’t taken Lindstrom at 14. That combination makes it defensible, as does Lindstrom’s upside.
- The Falcons pledged to take care of the trenches and Lindstrom, despite landing at a spot the Falcons just invested a not-small amount of free agent dollars in, certainly fits the bill there. Guard play has been a pretty consistent problem for Atlanta for years now, and Lindstrom is a sign that the Falcons are done patting us on the heads and telling us it’s going to be okay.
Why don’t 29% of fans love the move? Easy: Lindstrom was a shocker with consensus top edge rushers and tackles available, and tackle seems like the bigger immediate need. It’s not a slam dunk that Lindstrom, good as he’s reputed to be, is an elite, ten-year guy at the position, given that he sometimes got pushed around by some of the top defensive tackles in this very class. And then, of course, there’s the fact that the Falcons did not exactly go budget with James Carpenter and Jamon Brown, and unless one of those players is getting consideration at tackle, the Falcons paid that money for a high-priced backup with apparently full knowledge that Lindstrom was on their radar. He was always going to be available at #14.
Overall, though, there’s more cautious optimism than I thought there would be. Let’s hope Lindstrom proves to be the best Falcons guard since...well, since a long time ago.