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Mailbag: Is Tyler Linderbaum a Good Fit for the Ravens?

Iowa offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum (65) gets set to snap the ball during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 33-23.
Iowa offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum (65) gets set to snap the ball during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 33-23.

Mink: Tyler Linderbaum has been a popular mock draft pick for the Ravens, but I don't see it going that way. He's a fantastic prospect who will probably have a long, productive NFL career. However, I don't think he's the best fit for the Ravens' system and would have a brighter future elsewhere.

The Ravens run a gap scheme and love big, powerful centers who can drive defenders off the ball and combo block. Look at Ryan Jensen, for example. Jensen is about two inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than Linderbaum. Matt Birk was 6-foot-4, 310-pounds. Bradley Bozeman is 6-foot-5, 325 pounds. Standing in at around 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, Linderbaum's athleticism and quick feet will make him an excellent blocker in zone run schemes in which he's moving laterally to cut off defenders. The first line of the scouting report from's Lance Zierlein is, "Linderbaum has Pro Bowl potential but needs to be matched with a move-based rushing attack."

Could Linderbaum overcome his size disadvantage and do well in any scheme? Probably so. But I'd rather select a prospect, regardless of position, that fits the Ravens than try to fit a square peg in a round hole, especially with a first-round pick. There are other centers that could interest Baltimore in this draft and plenty of other needs to address in the first round.

(Now watch Linderbaum be the pick haha.)

Downing: Trading up is unlikely. General Manager Eric DeCosta has made it clear that he covets draft picks, and the cost of moving up just a few spots in the first round is significant. I expect DeCosta to hold onto his draft capital by staying put at No. 14, or potentially trading back like he did in 2019 before ultimately selecting wide receiver Marquise Brown. Giving up picks in the second or third round, or potentially even a future first-round pick, to move up just isn't something I see the Ravens doing. Another reason I don't expect a trade back is that the Ravens are picking higher (No. 14) than they have in years. This will be the earliest draft pick of DeCosta's tenure. The Ravens have a great track record of landing dynamic players in this range – they drafted Marlon Humphrey at No. 16 in 2017 and C.J. Mosley at No. 17 in 2014 – and they are confident in their ability to find a difference maker if they make a pick at 14.

Mink: It's insulting to say Lamar Jackson doesn't have "real" weapons besides Mark Andrews, and it's also misguided to imply that the Ravens haven't previously committed to doing so. Since Eric DeCosta became the general manager in 2019, two of his four first-round picks have been wide receivers (Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman). Brown, who is coming off a 1,000-yard season is absolutely a "real" weapon who has improved every season. Bateman is entering just his second season and showed flashes of his immense potential. Another major weapon and second-round pick, J.K. Dobbins, missed all last season, but will absolutely be a difference-maker when healthy.

So I don't think Jackson is lacking weapons. What he needs more of is protection. When Jackson had his MVP season, he had arguably the league's best tackle duo in Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr., plus potential future Hall of Famer Marshal Yanda, blocking for him. That all-star offensive line has been eroded, and building that back up will give Jackson more comfort and time to utilize the weapons around him.

Downing: As a long-time LeBron fan, this clip was basically my two worlds colliding. I certainly loved it. If you haven’t seen the clip yet, it's a promotional video for Jackson's appearance on LeBron James' interview show, The Shop. In the clip, James says that "Coach Harbaugh seems cool as [crap]," and Jackson co-signs with a story about Harbaugh working out in the team weight room. It's a fun clip and it shows the relevance that the Ravens have in the broader sports landscape.

I actually showed the clip to Harbaugh last night during an interview with him at the Combine. He hadn't seen it yet, but he definitely thought it was cool to get the shoutout from James. We'll share a video of Harbaugh's reaction a little later today (this is what we call a teaser in the biz!).

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