From now until the 2022 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today I’ll be profiling an interior offensive lineman that is considered the top center in the draft.
#65 Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa (rJR) — 6021, 296
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Tyler Linderbaum||6021/296||10||31 1/8||75 5/8|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
*e = estimated
— Plays with good balance and pad level on runs and in pass protection
— Excels as a Zone run blocker with very good quickness and agility
— Very good athleticism to block on the second level or in space
— Good hand strength and ability to lock on and sustain blocks
— Balance and quickness in his pass sets
— Good awareness and timing on twists and stunts
— Good anchor adjusting hands well and resetting feet
— Not a fit for a power run scheme
— Doesn’t get push in one on one blocks
— Grabby versus smaller/quicker defenders trying to evade him
— Will approach second level/space blocks too aggressively and miss opportunities
— Must win leverage battle or will be pushed back into the pocket
— Undersized and scheme specific
— Games 37, 35 starts
— 2021 Rimington Trophy winner (nation’s top center)
— Multiple 2021 All-American selections (AFCA, AP, CBS, ESPN, FWAA, The Athletic, USAT, TSN, WCFF)
— 2021 unanimous selection for ALL BIG-TEN team
— 2020 ALL BIG-TEN team (AP, Phil Steele)
— 2020 first-team All-America by Pro Football Focus and The Athletic
— Played defensive lineman as a freshman
— Birthdate – 4/7/2000
— Enterprise leadership major
— In high school, participated in wrestling, baseball and track and field (shotput)
He has been the anchor in the middle of the Iowa offensive line for the past three years and early mock drafts are showing a lot of love for Linderbaum. The biggest question on him is his size. Compared to the staring centers of all 32 NFL teams just one weighs less than his listed weight (Jason Kelce). The average NFL center weight is just less than 309 pounds. That is nineteen pounds heavier than Linderbaum. That is something for teams to consider.
As a run blocker, he is a technician as a Zone blocker. He shows very good quickness and agility out of his stance and executes Reach blocks very well beating defenders to the outside with good timing to pass them off or and flipping his hips to wall them to inside. He has very good hand strength to lock on and sustain blocks and play strength to stalemate with bigger defenders. On combo blocks he shows good timing and agility to climb to the second level or remain with the defensive lineman as the post blocker to steer defenders and attempt to continue the push. On outside runs, he shows very good awareness to identify and pick up the most dangerous defender ahead of him or cutting behind.
Vs Indiana, you can see the quickness of Linderbaum (65) out of his stance and his mental processing as he passes off the first defender before blocking a second defensive lineman and also a linebacker for good measure.
At Iowa State, the first clip he shows his agility to reach block to his right and flip his hips around to wall of the defender. On the second play he shows the awareness to pass off his block and pick up the linebacker filling the gap. He then finishes the block properly.
At Wisconsin, he will combo with the left guard and when the guard climbs to the second level he’ll sustain the block on the defender and drive him out of the play.
He plays with good pad level, balance and leverage and recovers quickly when knocked off his spot. Against Kentucky he was facing off with a defender who outweighed him by ninety pounds and overall held his own. Defensive linemen who turn their body and don’t stay square will pay as he will escort them out of the play. On solo blocks he shows good hand placement and lateral agility to try to mirror the defender. He displayed good technique and execution on double team blocks to work hip to hip with the guards to displace defensive tackles.
As a pass blocker, he showed good quickness to get into his set with good balance and pad level. He displayed a good punch and hand placement to slow the forward progress of rusher. Against power rushers, he makes a good effort with his hands to work them inside of the rusher and is good at resetting his feet to re-anchor and shut down the progress. When uncovered he scans from side to side, uses his drag hand well to feel for rushers where he isn’t looking and will look to get a slab of ribs when helping teammates. He displays solid awareness on stunts and twists along with balance and play strength to absorb the hit with good timing to pass off defenders. He has very good mobility and speed to get in front of screens and will get blocks well downfield.
At Iowa State, here is a very good rep where you can see him work his hands back inside and then reset his feet to stymie the pass rush.
Vs Kentucky, he shows off his athleticism on this screen to race thirty yards downfield to get a block to help his teammate score.
When asked to block larger defenders one on one he wasn’t able to move them on his own and would stalemate at best. The Michigan nose tackle gave him a tough time. He wasn’t asked to pull block in the games watched but I don’t suspect that will be an issue with his mobility and athleticism. On the second level and in space he can be too aggressive, lean forward and miss out on blocks. Against smaller, quicker defenders he’ll get grabby when they try to get around him in the run game. When he loses the leverage battle as a pass blocker he’ll get pushed back in the pocket. Defenders can yank him out the way when they get their hands inside and agile defenders coming on the blitz can juke around him.
At Iowa State, this scenario didn’t happen too often but the nose tackle gets under his pads and pushes him back and he ends up on his back.
Vs Michigan, he’ll be one on one with the DL and while he sustains the block he can’t move him out of the way and the player makes the tackle
There is no doubt that Linderbaum is a skilled Zone run blocker and a strong pass blocker at the college level. I don’t think many will question this skill set. College measurements are usually inflated so he may be even smaller than he is listed. His arm length will need to be at a minimum of 32 inches. Only two starting centers in the NFL come in under that length. If it is less than 32 inches he may not be drafted as high as his early projections. Only three of the NFL starting centers were drafted in the first round and none were in the top half of the round (18TH pick or later). I may be in the minority but based on his size, I’m not totally convinced he is a first round pick but it only takes one team to fall in love with him
The Steelers will be in the market for a center this spring. Linderbaum would be a fit schematically in what Matt Canada’s offense ran last year. It has been reported that the Steelers had scouts at Iowa games at least four times this year so he is definitely on their radar. The question is will they want an undersized player to be the lynchpin in the middle of the offensive line. My projection and grade will be based on good measurements but if they don’t meet the minimum requirements, the projection will likely drop.
Projection: Late Day 1
Depot Draft Grade: 8.7 – Year 1 Quality Starter
Games Watched: 2021: vs. Indiana, At Iowa State, At Wisconsin, Vs Michigan, Vs Kentucky