The Atlanta Falcons invested heavily in their offensive line in the 2019 NFL draft. They selected Chris Lindstrom at 14th overall, then traded back into the end of the first round with the Los Angeles Rams to take Kaleb McGary, the offensive tackle out of Washington.
In looking at these two picks, it’s pretty clear that they were the result of both scouting and analytics working together to identify quality offensive linemen worthy of selection as starters. The Atlanta Falcons are one of the franchises at the leading edge of analytics in the NFL, as they have both a Vice President of Technology, Data, and Analytics (Karl Pierburg) and a Football Analytics Coordinator (John Taormina). And the fingerprints of an objective look at what matters in offensive linemen is there, if you know where to look.
Kaleb McGary put up a 33.5 inch vertical jump, which was the second-highest for any drafted offensive tackle (behind Joshua Miles, a seventh-round pick of the Cardinals). He was better than average for a typical early round tackle in all other Combine categories except one: bench press. Meanwhile, Chris Lindstrom put up the second-longest broad jump among offensive lineman, behind only Andre Dillard, and was also well above average athletically in all the other categories except, you guessed it, the bench press. It’s not that these two wouldn’t put mere mortals to shame in lifting 225 pounds well over 20 times each, but compared to other top line prospects, it is the one area where they did not stand out.