In a first round that was full of surprise, the Atlanta Falcons shocked everyone by trading up back into the first round to select RT Kaleb McGary at 31st overall.
This came as a shock to many Atlanta Falcons fans because analysts and the general public were not as high on him as the Falcons were. It will be interesting to see how McGary will play in Atlanta, however, the Falcons front office deserves the benefit of the doubt because of how good their drafts have been the last couple of seasons.
If the Falcons were going to select an offensive tackle many fans assumed the pick would be either Jawann Taylor from Florida or Dalton Risner from Kansas State. Taylor ended up being selected four picks after McGary by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Risner went to the Denver Broncos in the second round, 41st overall.
It turns out Taylor had a knee injury that scared a lot of teams from drafting him in the first round. As for Risner, the Falcons viewed him as a guard and did not see him as a fit after drafting Chris Lindstrom with the 14th overall pick. After being provided with this information, fans should feel a lot better about the Falcons trading back into the first round as McGary, Taylor nor Risner would have been there at forty-five.
McGary is going to be put to the test early in the season. In week one the Falcons will travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. Minnesota has two pro bowl defensive ends Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. McGary will be a huge factor in this game. If he can play well, this could be a huge confidence boost for the rookie, the team and the fan base. If he struggles, it is not the end of the world, but the fan base will prematurely panic. It will be interesting to see what happens his rookie year, but week one seems to be a huge litmus test that will set the tone for McGary.
Another silver lining about this draft class is the fact both offensive linemen were drafted in the first round. If they are both solid pieces on the offensive line the Falcons can chose to exercise the fifth year option and both will be on the team for the next five seasons without having to worry about their contracts and will have their line of future, now.