College football’s top offensive lineman takes his talents to the NFL. Iowa Junior Center Tyler Linderbaum announced on social media on Friday that he was forgoing his senior season to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. He was listed in December as the number 14 overall draft prospect in the latest big board by NFL Draft pundit Mel Kiper Jr.
A glance at his resume quickly explains why he is highly regarded. Linderbaum took the all-time all-time high this season by a center via Pro Football Focus with 95.2. As a sophomore in 2019, he earned another 90-plus grade.
He is a two-time all-Big Ten first-team roster and this season was a unanimous All-American, Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, the Rimington Trophy winner for best center in the country and an Outland Trophy finalist, given to the best domestic lineman in the country.
His place in Iowa offensive lineman history has already been cemented, joining former greats such as Tristan Wirfs, Brandon Scherff, Marshal Yanda and many more. Now he will continue to expand that legacy by pursuing a successful professional career.
Linderbaum also used the newly introduced rules for name, image and likeness in a unique way. He donated all of the $30,000 he earned to the Iowa Children’s Hospital which overlooks Kinnick Stadium.
“I will be forever grateful for all the love and support I have received over the past four years and I couldn’t imagine my time anywhere else,” the Solon resident tweeted around 8:30 a.m. Friday. “…To my coaches, thank you for taking a chance on a kid from a small town in Iowa. Thank you for pushing me to be a great soccer player, but an even better man.”
Looking at next year’s offensive line
Linderbaum’s departure leaves a huge void in the Hawkeyes’ offensive line for the 2022 season, but there’s still reason to believe the unit as a whole could make huge strides forward.
Talented freshman Connor Colby, who started 11 times as a right guard but was able to bend to tackle and tackle left Mason Richman had ups and downs in the 2021 season but believes he will be ready to take a big leap next season. Veterans Justin Britt and Cody Ince have battled injuries all season, but both will be competing for plenty of game time next year. Then there are talented freshmen who didn’t play but made progress in bowl practice, according to offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz: David Davidkov and Beau Stephens.
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At Linderbaum’s current position, junior Matt Fagan has been the listed backup on the depth chart all season, but keep an eye out for up-and-coming sophomore Mike Myslinksi. The former Texas commissioner was also praised by Brian Ferentz during the bowl preparation and practiced almost exclusively with the second team this year. The Hawkeyes can also give Ince a peek as an emergency backup; he received praise for his versatility in all five positions on the line last spring.
Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men’s basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect to Kennington at Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at email@example.com.