In what may be the steal of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals continue to bolster their offensive line with the clear top talent at the center position. As someone who could end up as a top 10 pick, Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum would be great value this late in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
While Linderbaum’s talent and potential are undeniable, his size and the position that he plays could cause him to tumble down the draft board a bit come April. As a player, Linderbaum does everything that you can ask of a center. He is a very intelligent player and understands protections, recognizes stunts and blitzes and always seems to know where he needs to be on the field. He knows when and where to help out with double-team blocks and understands when it is time to pull away and get to the second level.
Linderbaum has very powerful hands and a great anchor, but that low center of gravity and be used against him by tall and long defensive tackles. The biggest knock on Linderbaum? His arm length. There have been very few successful offensive linemen in the NFL with arms as short as his. However, Linderbaum was battle tested in the Big Ten and it never seemed to hinder him at the college level.
As a center, teams may not value the position that Linderbaum plays at the top of the 2022 NFL Draft. Further, their may not be too many teams in the top 10-20 that really need a center bad enough to draft one. For the Bengals, this is a perfect storm. Linderbaum would start right away between free agent additions, Ted Karras and Alex Cappa, as well as the new right tackle, La’el Collins in the complete offensive line reboot for the reigning AFC Champions.
Nakobe Dean is likely the most well-rounded linebacker prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. There isn’t one specific area where he clearly excels, but he is really good at pretty much everything. With 72 tackles in 2021, Dean has shown that he can range sideline to sideline to bring down ball carriers. With 10.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks, Dean has shown that he is effective around the line of scrimmage and shooting into the backfield. With five pass break-ups and two interceptions, Dean has shown that he can excel when dropping in coverage.
Even after bringing Jarrad Davis back, the Detroit Lions have a need for a dynamic young linebacker. Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes and Davis are currently on the roster at inside linebacker. Nakobe Dean would be an immediate upgrade and would give a struggling Detroit defense a young centerpiece to build around.