What are the key strong suits and flaws of each member in the Falcons 2019 draft class? Let’s take a look.
A lack of star-studded names in the Falcons’ 2019 draft class left the group as a whole looking a little underwhelming to most. However, familiarity with the Falcons’ draft strategy in recent years shows that their approach to the draft will always be a little more unorthodox than other organizations.
There is plenty to like about the Falcons’ overall draft class, from the aggressive insertions on the offensive line, to the raw athleticism of their Day 3 selections. Today, I will examine the top strength and the top weakness for each of the Falcons’ 2019 draft picks. Let’s get started.
Round 1, 14th Overall - Chris Lindstrom, G , Boston College
Biggest strength: Athleticism
There is a reasonable possibility that this season, Lindstrom could establish himself as the most athletic offensive lineman on the Falcons roster. Looking at his collegiate tape, it is not difficult to arrive at the distinct likelihood it may occur. Lindstrom is able to mirror the opposing defensive linemen across from him very well. Equipped with superb movement skills for a prospect with his size, Lindstrom is able to get in space against opposing defenders on run plays and lead very fluidly. Having great agility laterally is also a key contribution to a lineman’s overall athleticism, and Lindstrom has that in spades.
Biggest weakness: Length
Lindstrom’s length is not necessarily a weakness worth harboring much attention on, thanks to his ability to mask the flaw with his athleticism and technique. It is also a clear indication of Lindstrom having very few weaknesses. At the combine, Lindstrom measured a wingspan of 80 1/8 inches and with a lack of ideal length. Allowing defenders to get into his chest when blocking will truly test his overall strength as a blocker.
Round 1, 31st Overall - Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
Biggest strength: Physicality
The Falcons had all intentions to boost their offensive line to a more physical, attacking unit. While the selection of McGary came with some shock after the Falcons traded back into the first round, his addition checks the box of aggressiveness that the Falcons covet. McGary has plenty of natural power in his 6’7, 317-pound frame and is tenacious as both a run and pass blocker. With the Falcons looking to incorporate more power running into their scheme, McGary is a true fit and is a blocker who will get inside a defender’s pads and physically set the tone for more to come.
Biggest weakness: Length
Once again, we stumble across the element of lack of arm length from the Falcons’ newest members to their offensive line. When compared to other notable offensive tackles in the 2019 draft, McGary has a discrepancy that stands out:
Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State 33 1⁄2 arm length 80 3/8 wingspan
Cody Ford, OT , Oklahoma 34 82 1⁄2
Tytus Howard, OT , Alabama St. 34 81 5/8
Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss 35 1⁄4 85
McGary 32 7/8 79 3⁄4
As you observe, McGary does not have the length that a number of other prospects possess, which will make his footwork and his ability to strike effectively with his hands a little more pressing at the NFL level to help alleviate his lack of long arms.
Round 4, 111th Overall - Kendall Sheffield, CB , Ohio State
Biggest strength: Speed
Sheffield possesses enough speed to loan some to another player and still have enough to hold his own. That part has never been questioned about his game, even during his collegiate career, where he bounced from Alabama to Blinn College to Ohio State. Sheffield’s long speed as well as his short area quickness allows him to keep his position against just about any receiver. His footwork is improving and that will only allow him to be more able to utilize his strength on the boundary as well as in the slot.
Biggest weakness: Ball skills
With his raw skill set, there are a few things that can be highlighted as weaknesses for Sheffield. But I point to ball skills, because it is an aspect that impacts his game in various ways. Sheffield only has two interceptions in two seasons in Columbus to go along with 15 pass deflections. However, where I’m turning my focus is Sheffield’s inability to properly track the ball when he is targeted. I have seen it a number of times when viewing his film against several different route combinations. Once Sheffield is able to improve in this phase, it should equate to more interceptions or just more plays on the ball.
Round 4, 135th Overall - John Cominsky, DL , Charleston
Biggest strength: Natural strength
Cominsky was a dual-threat quarterback coming into college at close to 220 pounds. Over his career, Cominsky swelled to north of 280 pounds and became a stout defensive lineman who is rarely moved when blocked one-on-one. When Cominsky bursts out of his stance and engages with the defender initially, he has the power in a bull rush to give offensive linemen plenty of trouble in the battle of leverage. Cominsky proved to be a weight room warrior while at the University of Charleston. The Falcons wanted to add some muscle to their defensive line and Cominsky does just that.
Biggest weakness: Pass rush skills
It should be noted and repeated that Cominsky has only been playing the position for a handful of years, so he is not seasoned as of yet. This particular component showed signs of maturation on film, but just not consistently enough to consider him a legitimate pass rusher at the moment. Cominsky will need to generate an arsenal of pass rushing moves and utilize his hands effectively on a more consistent basis. Power won plenty of battles at the collegiate level for Cominsky and will win a fair share at the NFL level. But Cominsky needs development here or he can easily be a one-dimensional lineman who is very limited.
Round 5, 152nd Overall - Qadree Ollison, RB , Pittsburgh
Biggest strength: Power
There is no sugarcoating it when describing Ollison’s skill set. He’s a power back to runs behind his pads and is a tough individual to bring down when he gets a full head of steam. Ollison has a fairly tall frame as a 6’1 running back, but he has developed his ability to lower his shoulder when need be and keeps his legs churning even when engaging with tacklers. His leg drive as a runner makes arm tacklers regret not bringing their hard hats when it comes to tackling attempts.
Biggest weakness: Agility
There is pretty much no elusiveness in Ollison’s running ability. Ollison is about as straight-line of a runner as you can get as his change-of-direction skill is also minimal. While his backfield mates, Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith, are known for what they can create in space, Ollison does not offer that. What you see is what you get with Ollison.
Round 5, 172nd Overall - Jordan Miller, CB, Washington
Biggest strength: Frame/length
The selection of Miller was an interesting one for the Falcons. While Miller was overshadowed aplenty at the University of Washington thanks to the amount of talent in the secondary, what he offers the Falcons is exactly they covet. At 6’1 and 186 pounds with almost 33-inch arms, Miller is a long corner with size and speed who is able to play his best in a zone coverage scheme, one much like the Falcons’ Cover 3 system. Thanks to that size, Miller should be able to contest catches a little more regularly than most zone corners.
Biggest weakness: Play strength
Miller’s lack of play strength shows up considerably in his tackling ability, where he demonstrates a trend of diving low at the ankles of ball carriers instead of proper wrapping-up ability. While Miller has a frame that can fill out over time and improve his play ability, the lankiness at this stage holds him back. At this year’s combine, Miller only registered six reps on the 225-pound bench press. It’s not the end of the world, but it is something to monitor early on in his career.
Round 6, 203rd Overall - Marcus Green, WR/RB, Louisiana-Monroe
Biggest strength: Versatility
Everyone will likely point to Green’s 4.38 speed as his biggest asset. That dangerous speed in the open field is a definite plus, but Green’s value lies in how many different ways he can impact a football game. Green had 202 total receptions during his four seasons of college play as well as 23 receiving touchdowns. He also carried the ball 51 times during his career and averaged 9.6 yards per carry. In the kickoff return phase, Green averaged 25.2 yards per return during his career with over 1,700 return yards. Green can be a weapon regardless where he lines up on the field.
Biggest weakness: Hands
Green is not the greatest pass catcher and at times tends to “double-catch” the ball instead of instantly securing the pass. That plus his inability to make contested catches leaves Green somewhat shaky in terms of securing catches. Of course, this can improve over time. Without a large frame, timing as a route runner will magnify which can result in better catch rates over time.