Opinion | Former Iowa football All-American Tyler Linderbaum primed for rookie season with Ravens

Linderbaum was drafted by the Ravens with the 25th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, and has already received praise from quarterback Lamar Jackson and offensive coordinator Greg Roman.


Grace Smith

Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum prepares to snap the football during the 2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl between No. 15 Iowa and No. 22 Kentucky at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes, 20-17.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

Former Iowa lineman Tyler Linderbaum is primed for a breakout rookie season in the NFL.

Just four years after converting to the offensive side of the ball from defensive tackle, Linderbaum will start at center for the Baltimore Ravens after he was selected with the 25th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Solon, Iowa, product was the first center selected in the first round since Cesar Ruiz was taken No. 24 by the Saints in 2020. He was the Ravens’ second selection in the first round after Baltimore took safety Kyle Hamilton out of Notre Dame with the 14th pick.

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Heading into the draft, Linderbaum was highlighted as the best center prospect ever scouted by Pro Football Focus (PFF). He set PFF’s blocking grade record in 2020, then smashed his own record in the 2021 campaign.

He slipped down draft boards because of his 31-inch arms (deemed too short by experts) and relatively light weight posted at the Combine (296 pounds). Amid those concerns, former Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson had a simple message to NFL teams: “Watch the tape.”

So far, it appears Goodson’s advice was solid. Linderbaum has looked like a steal for Ravens’ general manager Eric DeCosta and his staff, showcasing the talent that solidified his unanimous first-team All-American honors and Rimington Trophy last season.

RELATED: Tyler Linderbaum picked by Baltimore Ravens in first round of NFL Draft

Perhaps most importantly, he has developed a rapport with Baltimore quarterback (and 2019 NFL MVP) Lamar Jackson, who praised Linderbaum’s effort and talent to reporters.

“The chemistry is great… I [threw] an interception yesterday, and [the defender] was taking it back to the house… And Tyler was getting after it, he was running him down,” Jackson said during Ravens minicamp on June 16. “I’d just say he’s fast. Man, I ain’t ever seen a center run like that.”

Jackson’s testimony means a great deal within the Ravens organization. So does praise from offensive coordinator and play caller Greg Roman.

“We’re trying to throw [Linderbaum] in there and get him as much exposure [as possible],” Roman said on June 8. “Some guys — you can just see it every day — they just take another step forward, and he’s one of those guys thus far. So, it’s a credit to him, and he needs to keep it going.”

Linderbaum projects as a mainstay on the Baltimore line for years to come, and his growing connection with Jackson is encouraging. He has the potential to be not only one of the best young linemen, but one of the best overall centers in the entire league this time next year.

Or who knows? Maybe head coach John Harbaugh will move him back to defensive tackle and see what happens.

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