The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the 2022 offseason. With free agency as the next big event to shape next season’s roster, it will be followed by the NFL draft in April. The Steelers will have a number of decisions with players who were on the 2021 roster and will have the opportunity to add some free agent acquisitions before making their first draft selection. With the NFL combine and player pro days appearing to be back on the table this in the coming months, there will hopefully be much more information in regards to draft prospects this year.
When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. Before any gains or losses in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either offensive line or quarterback with their first-round pick. Others feel defensive line or cornerback could be on top of the list. With plenty of chances for the Steelers to shape their roster prior to April, their goal is usually to get into position to draft the best player available rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.
In the latest four-round mock draft by WalterFootball.com, they have the Steelers adding to the middle of their offensive line. With the national media jumping on the QB train for the Steelers after Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement, it was difficult to mind a mock draft this week where I wouldn’t be repeating the same position as last Monday. Luckily there was one not-so-familiar source which had the Steelers upgrading their line. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.
Check out the Steelers 20th pick:
20. Pittsburgh Steelers | Tyler Linderbaum | C | Iowa| RS Junior |
Being early in the draft process, there may be some players some fans may not be as familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Linderbaum according to thedraftnetwork.com:
Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum projects as a high-level starting center at the NFL level. It does not appear as though Linderbaum has the functional skill set to be a positionally flexible player—I consider him a center-exclusive prospect coming out of Iowa, which may temper his value in the eyes of teams at the top of the NFL draft order. But for the product that you’re investing in, you’ll likely find Linderbaum to be well worth the cost. He is a highly polished, highly cerebral and dynamic weapon on the offensive line that presents some unique traits that could make him a game-changer in the middle of your offensive front. Coming into Linderbaum’s evaluation, I expected to regard him as a wide-zone-exclusive fit that would make sense for the coaches off the Shanahan tree. But in reality, Linderbaum offers better functional strength than some of his contemporaries, such as former NC State center Garrett Bradbury (2019 NFL Draft, Minnesota Vikings). Linderbaum, a former high school wrestler who came to Iowa City as a defensive tackle and transitioned to the offensive side of the football after his true freshman season with Iowa, has steadily developed and improved in all phases and now finds himself as the latest product of the Iowa Hawkeyes’ offensive line factory. Linderbaum is still best projected to the Shanahan systems but I have enough belief in his tools that I wouldn’t consider him a scheme-exclusive candidate; he’s done well in his limited situations to handle high volume passing situations and has shown the ability to apply his wrestling background to sit down on rushes and anchor in the middle. But when you can run the ball and stay involved in the screen game, Linderbaum allows you to execute calls that are unique based on the landmarks you can ask him to hit relative to his peers at the position. I’d expect some level of growing pains early on given his stature and reach and learning to apply those things at the NFL level, but I do think in time this is a Pro Bowl-caliber center who should serve as an offensive line keystone for several contracts.
Ideal role: Starting center
Scheme tendencies: Wide zone, play-action pass-heavy, screen-heavy
For all you who are finding yourself diving more into draft analysis, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Linderbaum with their first pick? Do you feel there is a better player at this position group or do you believe he will not be available when the Steelers make their pick? Personally, I am all for the Steelers bolstering their offensive line with the best player available, regardless of position. While I am on the Linderbaum train big-time, I would be surprised if he falls to 20 as this draft process goes on. Additionally, even if he was there, I don’t trust Steelers to take him after I was hopeful for Creed Humphrey in last year’s draft. The Steelers have some specific traits that are unlike the typical NFL center that they seem to look for, so it’s not always the easiest to predict who they would take interest in when the need for the position arises.