The days of the Dallas Cowboys having a dominant offensive line is now a thing of the past. Age, injury, and attrition have all set in and the Cowboys find themselves heading into the 2022 NFL draft looking to add, at the very least, one offensive linemen with the hopes of solidifying a unit that was once viewed as one of the best.
Understandably it is early and there are many prospects to analyze via the NFL Scouting Combine and various Pro Days, but there is little doubt that as the Cowboys scouting department hits the road, they will have a keen eye on the big fellas up front.
Today we take a look at a highly-respected prospect that many have already linked to the Dallas Cowboys as a ‘no-brainer’ pick if he were still to be available.
Linderbaum is an immediate impact player and would be an instant upgrade at the all-important center position. Tyler Biadasz was serviceable this year, but if the Cowboys can find a way to solidify the middle of the line and pair him with an All-Pro in Zack Martin, the Cowboys may be able to be even more prolific on offense.
The Cowboys could go a few different ways with the 24th pick, but for now we dive fully into the offensive line and take a look at Linderbaum as a prospect.
Age - 21 years old
Birth Place - Solon, IA
Height - 6’3”
Weight - 291
Tyler Linderbaum is a junior prospect who has declared for the NFL draft early, and despite being one of the most polished center prospects to come into the NFL in some time, he is only 21 years old. Combine his age with his play and surely Linderbaum is going to draw the attention of many teams that need offensive linemen.
Numbers Don’t lie
Widely regarded as the consensus best center prospect in the this year’s draft, Linderbaum was voted as a First Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten heading into his junior season, a year in which he started eight games.
Pro Football Focus was impressed with the young man as he posted a grade of 95.4 in 2021 following a grade of 91.5 in 2020. In three seasons, Tyler Linderbaum has only surrendered two sacks and six quarterback hits.
Watching Linderbaum’s film was fun, and you don't often say that when breaking down offensive line play. He played with high athleticism while maintaining the ability to finish and be strong in the run game. The one thing that sticks out a bit if you were to knit pick about him as a prospect is his weight being under 300 lbs. When watching his film you see a player who is confident and strong at the point of attack, so when put into an NFL weight room and allowed to grow into his body, the sky is the limit for him.
It’s easy to see why NFL teams are going to fall in love with him if they haven't already. His ability to anchor that allows him to show off his strength and quality technique is clearly there. He plays with fluidity and makes his movements feel smooth, which is clearly hard to do at a position your entire job is to move men against their will. He shows flexibility and quick feet, and you can clearly see he as an athletic background as he boasts an impressive wrestling background.
All in all, he is an easy first-round prospect who may not even be there by the time pick 24 comes around, but if he is the Cowboys should feel good about turning the card in for the young center out of Iowa.
Highest graded run blocking seasons by a Power Five OL since 2016— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 28, 2022
1️⃣ Tyler Linderbaum (’21): 96.6
2️⃣ Penei Sewell (’19): 95.7
3️⃣ Christian Darrisaw (’20): 94.5
4️⃣ Ikem Ekwonu (’21): 93.8 pic.twitter.com/A0QpYd9Es7
And this is Iowa Center Tyler Linderbaum blocking three people on one play:pic.twitter.com/jROz1NErSn— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) January 22, 2022
Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum does an excellent job of bumping the DT to the B-gap before taking a perfect angle to the 2nd level, where he pancakes a poor LB. pic.twitter.com/OIVC4sk9vp— John Owning (@JohnOwning) January 22, 2022
The comparison thrown around the most is Jason Kelce, and it is an obvious one. They have similar styles in the way they approach the game. Gritty maulers who clearly exhibit a level of athleticism you don’t often see out of an offensive linemen.
If the comparisons are correct, Linderbaum and the team that selects him will absolutely be ecstatic.
Mid First Round
Starting off this profile we discussed that he is the clear-cut best center prospect in this draft. There are some quality offensive linemen that will be taken throughout the weekend, but as far as centers go it starts here with Tyler Linderbaum. There a few teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, and the New York Giants that all could make a case to take him before the Cowboys do, so the idea of Linderbaum making it to 24 seems like a hope at this point. However, crazier draft day things have happened before and if given the opportunity, one would think the Cowboys would feel real good about this first-round selection.