NFL: The Falcons Might Regret This 2019 First-Round Pick

There is immense pressure associated with the NFL Draft. While not every pick will pan out, teams must hit on as many picks as possible — particularly in the early rounds. One wrong move can reverse a franchise’s fortunes. The Atlanta Falcons had two first-round selections in 2019. While the 2019 season hasn’t even kicked off yet, it’s possible the Falcons made a huge mistake on one of their 2019 first-round picks. 

Who did the Falcons select in the first round? 

Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, USA Today said the Falcons’ five biggest needs included edge rusher, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, cornerback, and linebacker. Of all their weak areas, the offensive line was probably the most glaring. The Falcons O-line allowed 42 sacks while the running game averaged less than 100 yards per game. 

The Falcons used both of their first-round picks on offensive lineman. The first, the 14th overall pick, was Chris Lindstrom, a guard out of Boston College. The second, at No. 31 overall, was Kaleb McGary, an offensive tackle from the University of Washington. ESPN’s Falcons draft report had this to say about the move: 

“The Falcons needed a tough offensive tackle and went with McGary, who made a top 30 visit to Atlanta and also had a private workout with the team…One scout called McGary a reach, and even McGary admitted he thought he’d go in the second round.”

ESPN also guessed that because Atlanta had selected both players in the first round, both men would start. 

Kaleb McGary’s college career

At the University of Washington, McGary made the Pac-12 first-team two times. As a senior, he helped lead the Huskies to the Pac-12 title 

Before the draft, gave McGary a prospect grade of 5.88, meaning he had a chance to become an NFL starter. At the NFL Combine, he ran a 5.05 second 40-yard dash, jumped 33.5 inches in the vertical jump and 111 in the broad jump, ran the three-cone drill in 7.66 seconds, and ran the 20-yard shuttle in 4.58 seconds. 

While McGary displayed superior athleticism at Washington, there was one major health issue he was dealing with. He cleared medical testing at the NFL draft, but unfortunately, the problem reared its ugly head during training camp. 

Why the Falcons might have made a big mistake taking McGary

The Atlanta Falcons might regret using a first round draft pick on Kaleb McGary.
Health concerns mean Falcons’ first-round pick Kaleb McGary might miss significant time. | David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

hMcGary suffers from a condition known as heart arrhythmia, for which he had three procedures performed in college. During training camp practice, McGary had a health issue arise and will need to have a cardiac ablation performed on him. A Yahoo Sports article about the matter provided more detail on McGary’s procedure. 

“The procedure typically takes around four hours. Although it’s considered minimally invasive and McGary is not believed to have life-threatening concerns now, there is still the concern about his ability to have a normal NFL career if there are complications. A timetable for his return to football activities is expected to be formulated following the completion of the procedure.”

Obviously, the most important issue is Kaleb McGary’s health. But if he isn’t able to return to the field this season — or, in the worst-case scenario, at all — this may go down as a mistake of a first-round draft pick for Atlanta. While McGary was cleared to play, the team was aware of his condition. 

Right now, the Falcons have to wait for the results of McGary’s procedure before passing judgment on the move. It’s a certainty that from the team’s perspective, their only concern right now is McGary, the person, making a full recovery from surgery.