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Tyler Linderbaum takes same approach from Iowa to NFL Draft
Solon native unable to compete at NFL combine because of injury from Citrus Bowl
INDIANAPOLIS — Tyler Linderbaum’s approach to the NFL Draft isn’t much different from his approach at Iowa.
“The biggest thing for me is being myself,” Linderbaum said Thursday at the NFL Combine. “I’m not trying to change who I am once I get here. I’m here for a reason, and that’s just because I’ve been being myself.”
Even after suffering a mid-foot sprain that will keep him out of the combine drills, he wouldn’t change his decision to play in the Citrus Bowl.
“I’d play in that game if I could,” Linderbaum said. “Hopefully go out and win.”
Linderbaum had the same even-keel demeanor in his media availability as he had throughout the season. He’s doing the work in the same place he’s been for four years.
While many draft prospects spend their pre-draft months with trainers in places like Texas or Florida, Linderbaum has been preparing at Iowa’s football facility.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Linderbaum said.
Linderbaum said strength and conditioning coach Raimond Braithwaite has “a lot of great knowledge,” and Braithwaite’s staff has not made any significant changes from what he was already doing.
“A lot of guys come back from the NFL and train there,” Linderbaum said. “You know what you’re going to get there. It’s a hard-working program, and that’s why I chose to stay there.”
Marshal Yanda was among the NFL players to train at Iowa, and the former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman left an impression on Linderbaum.
“When we were in there in the winter and the spring, he was the guy that would always come back,” Linderbaum said. “Seeing his work ethic and how he operated, there’s a reason why he was in the league for so long and why he was an All-Pro.”
Linderbaum is keeping his options open when it comes to which team will draft him.
“I’m going to work my butt off wherever I go,” Linderbaum said. “I’m going to come in there, work hard, be coachable and be a great teammate.”
Linderbaum is widely considered the top center in this year’s draft class. While relatively small at 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, his lateral quickness and technique have helped his draft stock.
He won’t be worrying too much about whether he’ll be a top-10 pick.
“I’ll let all the coaches and GMs and all those guys decide if they think I’m a top-10 player in the draft,” Linderbaum said.
Linderbaum also doesn’t have to worry about it too much when NFL general managers think as highly as they do of the former Solon prep.
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta described Linderbaum as the “type of guy that could really be the centerpiece of your offensive line” and compared him to Yanda.
“When we look at a guy like Tyler Linderbaum, we see a lot of the same qualities,” DeCosta said Wednesday. “Tough. Gritty. Very, very athletic. Very, very intelligent. Smart.”
Linderbaum already has met formally with several NFL teams, including the Packers, Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Bears and Bengals.
The 2021 unanimous consensus All-American has drawn comparisons to All-Pro center Jason Kelce.
“It’s pretty cool to have comparisons like that,” Linderbaum said. “But I have a lot of work to do to get to his level. ... Some of the things he’s capable of doing is something that I’d like to resemble my game after.”
While Linderbaum won’t be ready for Friday’s combine drills, he said he’s “feeling really good” and is eyeing Iowa’s pro day for his chance to compete in drills.
“It’s all healthy now,” Linderbaum said. “I just haven’t done enough training on it to compete here at the combine.”
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