OWINGS MILLS, Md.— The Ravens are confident they got a steal when Tyler Linderbaum fell to them with the 25th overall pick in the draft.
Some pundits claim Linderbaum is a bit undersized to play center in the NFL.
However, the Ravens don't see that at all and expect him to start as a rookie.
"Somebody said it on TV, I think; if he was an inch taller and his arms were a half-inch longer, he would’ve been a Top 5 pick, and I believe that," Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said. "He’s probably one of the better centers we’ve seen come out in a long time. So, it filled a huge need for us."
Linderbaum, 6-foot-3, 291 pounds, was a two-time all-Big Ten first-team selection, a unanimous All-American, Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, and the Rimington Trophy winner, which is awarded to the nation's top center.
Linderbaum began his career at defensive tackle but he made the transition to center by the end of his freshman season. Linderbaum is durable and played 908 of Iowa’s 934 snaps in 2021 and was only removed during blowout wins.
"He’ll block three guys in one play," Hortiz said. "He’s a lot of fun to watch. And like [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta] mentioned, he’s kind of a consensus guy with all the scouts and coaches. Everyone saw him the same way. You just put the film on and it’s obvious he can play anywhere.”
Linderbaum is the first offensive lineman the Ravens selected in the first round since 2016 when they took Ronnie Stanley.
Expectations are just as high.
"There’s going to be a lot of competition for the starting spots, a certain one spot in particular, but then there’s going to be competition for those backup spots, big time," coach John Harbaugh said. "The thing we’re trying to do is be a physical, punishing offensive line. We want that kind of a mindset in our group, and that’s what Tyler Linderbaum brings to us, Pat Mekari is like that already, and a lot of our guys are. This guy [Tyler Linderbaum] adds to it."