The 2022 draft doesn’t sport an extremely deep center group, but one name jumps off the page. That name is Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa. Already looking good in black and gold, he is a player the Steelers would be wise to consider if he were somehow to fill to No. 20 overall.
What is becoming clearer by the day, is the fact this is one gigantic “if”; however, every year there seems to be a run on players/position in Round 1 which has other players/positions fall to the later portions of the first round. It goes without fail, every year there are players who are discussed right here on this site, and fans all say the same thing...
“He’ll never be there when the Steelers pick.”
“This is pointless, he’ll be long gone before Pittsburgh picks.”
And yet there we are on draft night watching these players stay on the board longer and longer, and are eventually an option for the Steelers. In this case, Linderbaum would have to fall to pick No. 20, and the Steelers would be wise to take the Hawkeye center if this scenario plays out.
After already looking at several quarterbacks, I decided to focus my next prospect breakdown on Linderbaum.
Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Linderbaum. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!
Let us know your thoughts on Linderbaum in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2022 NFL Draft.
Linderbaum has Pro Bowl potential but needs to be matched with a move-based rushing attack. He has the foot quickness and GPS to consistently find top positioning in the first phase of the block. He plays with leverage and body control to sustain and keep the running lane open. However, his size will make block finishing somewhat hit or miss and he will need help against some of the bigger defenders lining up across from him. Teams with certain size standards might pass on him but his tenacity and talent make him a can’t-miss prospect if matched in the right scheme.
- Loves to compete and brings it to opponents.
- Wrestling background evident in core strength and leverage.
- Gets snap hand where it needs to go quickly.
- Hands, hips and feet are harmonious.
- Elite snap quickness creates A+ win rate in positioning phase.
- Explosive in his dip and lift against the nose tackle.
- Fluid and fast for climbs to middle linebacker and long pulls in space.
- Very accurate with roadmaps up to second-level angles.
- Breaks down in space to mirror and tag moving targets.
- Footwork and body control make him a magnet during sustain phase.
- Pass protects with inside hands.
- Finds additional work when uncovered.
- Tremendous reactive athletic agility for recoveries.
- Listed at less than 300 pounds and likely scheme-dependent as move blocker.
- True two-gappers will discard his base block.
- Gets there but might need more power to finish pro defenders.
- Drive base can get hurried and narrow.
- Bull rushers can be a problem.
- Not very long to re-calibrate if he’s not there first with his hands.
- Needs to limit oversets and calm his initial movements.
- Shotgun snaps are a little too tall.
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
- Position: Center
- School: Iowa
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 289 pounds
Tyler Linderbaum Scouting Report
Linderbaum has received recognition as one of the best centers in college football. What is it about the Iowa OC that makes him such an exceptional talent?
The first thing that stands out about Linderbaum when you turn on the tape is his athleticism. He explodes out of his stance with exceptional fluidity. Once he’s out of his stance, he’s always moving, always on his feet. Linderbaum gets out to the second level exceptionally well in the run game, easily outpacing his compatriots on the offensive line. For a guy who is listed at 289 pounds, he demonstrates phenomenal play speed.
Whether you are an offensive line expert or an untrained eye, the other thing that stands out is Linderbaum’s competitive toughness. The Iowa OC plays hards on every single play. He looks to finish his opponent on every snap, leading to some impressive takedowns away from the action.
SCOUTING REPORT: STRENGTHS
- Quick out of his stance with the footwork to be effective in front of screens. Willing to get out in front of ballcarriers to take out defensive backs and linebackers.
- Real technician with a great feel for the position
- Excellent in the run games - moves very well laterally and is dominant in the screen game
- Good natural athleticism, knee bend, and fluid lateral movement to mirror college defensive ends.
- Very mobile, at the line of scrimmage and climbing to the second level.
- Has fluid body control with loose hips. Physical and tough with good effort in the run game. Plays with a finishing attitude with an aggressive, nasty temperament.
- Fundamentally sound and understands blocking angles, using body positioning to his advantage. Disciplined awareness and good intelligence.
- A smooth athlete with terrific mobility and footwork, staying light on his feet. Has the lateral range, natural shuffle movements, and lower body quickness to mirror speed rushers.
- Wrestling background shows when moving opposing defenders, Linderbaum understands how to use his lower body to gain leverage.
- Is an elite pass protector - in three years and 33 games he has only given up 2 sacks
- Made Bruce Feldman’s Freaks list at #10 — “During his freshman year, Linderbaum set the Hawkeyes squat record for a center by doing 590 pounds. He’s also got elite feet. Word is, he’s run a 1.55 10-yard split and was timed at 4.22 in the shuttle — numbers that would rival a good running back”
SCOUTING REPORT: WEAKNESSES
- Stronger pass rushers can get under his pads and steer him aside.
- Finesse blocker with average arm length who doesn’t use his hands well to win at the point of attack
- Not physically imposing and has average overall strength and a little small for the position. Upper body gets over his feet too often and he easily loses his balance
- May need to put on a little weight to dominate at the next level
- Loses leverage battles and plays with high pad level
- Can become over aggressive and overrun plays - must play a little less amped up
Breakdowns / Highlights
Other Breakdowns by Position