Editor's note: Our weeklong Falcons Building Blocks series started Tuesday and focuses on five young talents who will be counted on to start a new era of sustained success. These players must hit certain marks to be included. They must be working on a rookie contract. They must be 27 or younger. They must be thriving already, with leadership qualities and potential for even better down the line. While rookies aren't preferred considering they've never played an NFL snap at this point, you'll find at least one on the list due to vast potential involved. The latest installment in this analysis focuses on guard Chris Lindstrom.
The Falcons entered the 2019 NFL Draft set on reshaping their offensive line. They took two in the first round, including a guard far higher than guards normally go.
Chris Lindstrom was well worth the lofty pick. The No. 14 overall selection has thrived on the right side, living up to sky-high expectations coming out of Boston College. He's a road grader in the run game and a steady pass protector. He's a vocal leader and a tone setter with tough, physical play on the inside.
He played 1,122 offensive snaps in 2020 and allowed just 29 total quarterback pressures, per analytics site Pro Football Focus, including four sacks. He operated well in both zone and power/gap run schemes last season, with the Falcons averaging 4.5 yards per carry between him and the center and 4.2 between him and the right tackle. He's also adept in blocking space, with solid agility for someone his size.
Last season offered the first glimpse of how good Lindstrom could be after his rookie year was sapped by a foot injury. The best remains ahead for someone who should be a consistent presence along the offensive front for years to come. He'll be under contract through 2023 if his fifth-year option gets picked up and is the type a team should build around up front.
He'll continue to grow working next to fellow 2019 first-round pick and starting right tackle Kaleb McGary, who hasn't been as strong to this point. McGary has graded out well at times but PFF stats suggest he needs to be more consistent in pass protection.
Guard is a historically underrated position, though that's starting to change these days. We're seeing top guards getting paid handsomely, with several recognized for work most casual fans ignore or don't fully understand. New head coach Arthur Smith certainly respects interior efforts after playing the position at North Carolina. He knows he has a good one in Lindstrom.
Having a quality player and staple working on a rookie deal will allow the Falcons to focus resources on other spots in their attempts to solidify the offensive front and a run game that needs overall improvement. His leadership role should expand with experience, especially if he performs as well in 2021 as he did last season. Lindstrom as the personality for it and has clearly garnered respect in the Falcons locker room.
He has lived up to the No. 14 overall pick two years back and could lead a youth movement up front if McGary improves, Matt Hennessy performs well at center after being Alex Mack's understudy and rookie Jalen Mayfield can eventually take hold at left guard or another spot along the line. Veteran left tackle Jake Matthews will be around for a while longer and is a staple at his position, but Lindstrom should be there to take the baton and lead the line into the future. The offense will have different personnel in a few seasons, so the Falcons need Lindstrom to continually improve and provide stability at a spot too often taken for granted.