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Atlanta’s two first-round picks built a strong relationship before being drafted

Kaleb McGary, Chris Lindstrom

Eyebrows raised when the Atlanta Falcons selected two offensive linemen in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Not because Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary don’t project as upper-echelon starters down the line, but due to the fact that Atlanta used such a highly-valued commodity – not once, but twice – to address a position group that many feel squeamish using a first-round pick on in the first place.

But if Lindstrom and McGary quickly develop into impact players their rookie seasons, don’t be surprised if their previously-established rapport is among the reasons why. The pair first got to know each other playing on the same offensive line at the Senior Bowl, and have relished getting the chance to do so again with the Falcons.

“It was really cool to build that relationship,” Lindstrom told The Athletic’s Jason Butt. “And then when he got drafted I was so happy, I texted him right away. It’s been awesome together.”

McGary offered a similar sentiment.

“It was actually pretty cool, pretty organic really,” McGary said of his initial bond with Lindstrom at the Senior Bowl. “Meeting him and a couple of the other O-linemen, we just kind of jelled instantly. We just hung out together the whole time (at the Senior Bowl and scouting combine). Now I’m here with him, and it’s just awesome.”

The Falcons clearly prioritized overhauling an offensive line this offseason that allowed 42 sacks and 108 quarterback hits in 2018, both well below-average numbers. The team signed guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown to lucrative multi-year deals in free agency, and after drafting Lindstrom and McGary, suddenly boast one of the most impressive collections of young offensive line talent in the NFL.