FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons were looking to bulk up in the trenches after a disappointing season.
They stuck to that plan, even when one target after another was snatched up ahead of the 14th pick in the NFL draft.
In a bit of a surprise, the Falcons selected offensive guard Chris Lindstrom from Boston College with their first-round choice Thursday night, adding another piece to a line that needed a big upgrade to make sure star quarterback Matt Ryan didn’t take another pounding in 2019.
The Falcons were thought to covet a wealth of stellar defensive linemen, but six of those players were gobbled up in the first 13 picks. Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams went to Cincinnati at No. 11, depriving Atlanta of another possible selection. When Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was grabbed by Miami just ahead of the Falcons’ pick, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Lindstrom became the choice.
He’ll now be charged with protecting fellow Boston College alum Ryan, who was the Falcons’ top pick in 2008.
Lindstrom joins a revamped offensive line that includes two other new guards, free agent signees James Carpenter and Jamon Brown.
Set at quarterback with former MVP Ryan and veteran backup Matt Schaub, the Falcons were hoping several teams ahead of them would go in that direction. The Arizona Cardinals selected Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray with the top overall pick, and Daniel Jones of Duke went to the New York Giants at No. 6.
But that was it.
After the Falcons selected Lindstrom, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins fell to Washington at No. 15.
The Falcons had their highest spot in the draft since 2015, when the team was heading into its first season under coach Dan Quinn. On the heels of two straight playoff appearances, including a run to the Super Bowl during the 2016 season, Atlanta was ravaged by injuries and slipped to 7-9 a year ago.
Quinn fired all three coordinators in a shake-up that led to the head coach taking over the defensive play-calling duties.