Steelers must move Linderbaum down their board after NFL Combine
By Andrew Falce
With the NFL Combine wrapping up, Steelers fan favorite Linderbaum hasn’t done anything to help his draft stock.
One of the hottest non-quarterback names linked to the Steelers this offseason has been Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum. The former Hawkeye was a dominant force along the interior of their line and was an early favorite to land somewhere inside the first 15 picks of the first round. He was never known to be a big player, but his NFL Combine measurements were really lacking.
While, typically, the center position is the smallest of the linemen on the field, there is still a base level of criteria that typically separate great centers from mediocre ones in terms of size. Typically, the smallest a successful center will be is in the 6’3”, 305 pounds with 33” arms. Unfortunately for Linderbaum, his measurements came in well below that.
At the NFL Combine, Linderbaum measured in 6’2”, 296 pounds. While that isn’t a horrible size for a center, it does technically make him undersized. The worst aspect of his size has to be his arms though, as he just barely reaches past 31 inches. Overall, Linderbaum’s size was an issue heading into the combine, and those issues were proven valid.
Steelers don’t need another undersized lineman
Anyone claiming that Kendrick Green is too small to play has to be writing Linderbaum off your draft board at this point. While Green is slightly shorter, he is 10 pounds heavier and has over an extra inch of reach to him. Even if you could look past the size of one of them, having both of them penciled in as starters creates an extremely small interior lineman room.
This isn’t to say everything about Linderbaum is bad. That simply isn’t true. Most expect him to be a great athlete (frankly, he has to be at this size) despite not testing at the combine, and his technique along the interior is some of the best in the draft class. That said, if he doesn’t have the natural size to play effectively at the next level, he won’t succeed.
While the height and weight can be overlooked, his arms really can’t. One of the most crucial elements for a lineman is the ability to make contact and set the play. Linderbaum will rarely be able to do that and will have to adjust to what the defender is doing as opposed to setting the tone. Against NFL caliber lineman every week this could lead to some bad games.
While Linderbaum has some impressive tape at Iowa, his size makes it really hard for me to want to see him be the pick in the first round. Had he been smaller but with respectable arms, that is one thing, but his lack of length cements himself as an extremely undersized prospect.
Will the Steelers still be interested? Maybe, but don’t be surprised to see them look elsewhere in this draft for linemen.