LAS VEGAS – What do potential first-round NFL Draft picks do the week of the biggest night of their lives?
For former Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, it’s business as usual.
“He just killed a turkey yesterday I think,” said Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras. “It was not a big one, but he still got one so it’s good.”
Hunting has always been a passion for the Solon, Iowa native who will be celebrating draft night surrounded by friends, family and a handful of teammates at a watch party in his Uncle’s barn in West Branch, Iowa.
He even has a stuffed turkey that he shot prominently displayed on the wall of the home he shared with Petras.
“I have not eaten the recent turkey,” disclosed Petras. “But he does have one on the wall, I could go look at it right now if I wanted to.”
Linderbaum is on the hunt for something different tonight though – a job.
“I know he’s kind of sick of being unemployed,” said Petras. “I know he wants to be part of a team again. Being a part of a team is a big thing for him, as it is for most athletes so I know he’s excited for that. This is the point where I’m sure he’s sick of all the hype videos and mock drafts and all that stuff and just wants to play ball.”
The 6-foot-2, 296-pound lineman took home the Rimmington Trophy last season as well as first-team All-American honors and Big Ten Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year accolades. He’s athletic, technically sound, works clean angles and punches guys square in the mouth. Even his quarterback wasn’t worried when he saw opposing defenses closing in.
“If I see two linebackers blitzing up the middle, I know at least one of them is going to get stuck by Mr. Linderbaum,” chuckled Petras.
But what makes him undeniably the best center in the 2022 NFL Draft?
“You gotta start with the physical tools,” Petras explained. “Just his strength and his ability to move and to create leverage – all those things that are pretty well documented. I think what sets him apart from other guys that are also physically gifted is just how he goes about his business mentally.”
Petras confirmed what most already know – Linderbaum is a competitor.
“The moment is never too big, he’s just always locked in and giving it his all and usually kicking people’s ass,” said Petras. “He’s just an ultimate competitor kind of guy.”
But would the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy finalist compete on the red carpet?
“I think he would maybe go to Men’s Warehouse and take the suit off of the mannequin – that’s his level of interest in fashion,” joked Petras. ‘He’d go as basic as possible, if I had to guess.”
Who has time for fashion when you are too busy bagging birds and shaking off undersized narratives? But who better to dispel the doubts about Linderbaum’s size than the guy who trusted him with his safety every Saturday?
“I know that when Tristan Wirfs got drafted, they said the same thing about him and was the fourth tackle taken and he was first team All-Pro as a second-year player, probably should have been as a rookie also” clarified Petras. “I would expect the same from Tyler. I have no doubts about him that when he gets to the league, he’s going to be an outstanding player.”
So Petras can vouch for Linderbaum on the football field and in the weeds. But there’s another place the signal caller would want his center by his side.
Written by Emily Van Buskirk