Tyler Linderbaum at 12 Would Be Controversial
Let me begin by acknowledging that I’m far from a draft expert. My knowledge is constrained to the highlights I see alongside the various articles/reports I read about draft prospects. Be that as it may, I do have my opinions, one of which being that the Vikings opting for center Tyler Linderbaum would be controversial.
Now, there’s a clear need along the interior of the offensive line. Garrett Bradbury is a bust, and there’s no way he ought to be the starter moving forward. Ideally, the team will be able to save a few bucks by trading him for a late-rounder.
It’s that Bradbury history, though, that makes Linderbaum so controversial. The Bradbury bust is still fresh, so fans will be a little wary about sinking an even higher pick into another undersized, athletic center. Don’t forget that the belief was that Bradbury was not only fleet of foot but also really strong. He’s only 300 pounds, but he did put up an impressive 34 reps on the bench press. Three NFL seasons, though, shows that he regularly struggles to anchor.
At 6’3, 290, Tyler Linderbaum will remind people of the Vikings’ current center. Take a peak at what The Draft Network has to say about their #11 overall prospect:
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.
I, for one, am far more enthused about investing in positions that are more important. Give me a corner or edge rusher instead of an iOL prospect. Plus, there are some strong free agent options at center, so it’s not like the Vikings have no other recourse than to snag this year’s top center prospect.
That being said, I’ll end things with a note in Linderbaum’s favor. A couple years ago, many Vikings fans expressed disappointment in the Justin Jefferson selection. Why was this the case? Well, it wasn’t that long ago that the team sunk a first-round selection into Laquon Treadwell. Obviously, the Vikings were wise to snag Jefferson. The lesson here is that each player is his own person. Past failure at a certain position doesn’t mean the next player chosen at that position will be a bust.
A recent mock draft right here on Purple PTSD featured the Vikings selecting Tyler Linderbaum at 12. If there is a run on corners and/or edge rushers, perhaps the Vikings will find themselves with a new center.