Ravens’ GM Compares Draft’s Best Center to 8-Time Pro-Bowler

Marshal Yanda

Getty The Ravens may have found their next Marshal Yanda at this year's Scouting Combine.

Marshal Yanda retired in 2020 as one of the Baltimore Ravens’ all-time greats. An eight-time Pro-Bowler and twice named first-team All-Pro, Yanda was one of the NFL’s most dominant guards, and the Ravens have struggled to replace him.

In the two seasons since Yanda called time on his career, the Ravens have allowed 32 and 57 sacks. General manager Eric DeCosta knows there needs to be improvement up front, and he’s found a player who reminds him of Yanda at the Scouting Combine.

This member of the 2022 NFL draft is considered by many to be the best center in his class. He fits as the first building block to help the Ravens restore a sturdy offensive line in front of Lamar Jackson.

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DeCosta May Have Found the Ravens’ Next Yanda

Speaking at the Combine, DeCosta identified the one player who reminds him of Yanda, per Ravens.com Editorial Director Ryan Mink:

That’s quite the complement considering how well Yanda performed during 13 seasons. Tyler Linderbaum would be fortunate to enjoy even a fraction of the same success.

It’s something Linderbaum will be hoping to achieve as one of this year’s most highly touted prospects. Many, including The Athletic‘s Dane Brugler, believe Linderbaum has no equal at his position:

He’s certainly a player the Ravens could use, not least because last season’s starting center, Bradley Bozeman, is a pending free agent. Linderbaum is considered a mauler and would bring some of the rough nastiness Yanda displayed in the trenches.

Among Linderbaum’s strengths, according to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein, is how he “loves to compete and brings it to opponents.” There’s also the “wrestling background evident in core strength and leverage.”

Since Linderbaum played over the ball for the Hawkeyes, Zierlein offered a different comparison than Yanda. Instead, he sees shades of Philadelphia Eagles’ center Jason Kelce in Linderbaum’s game.

Zierlein’s only notable concern is a perceived lack of size for the position. Linderbaum is 6’3″ and 290 pounds, and some wonder if he’s too light for trench warfare at the pro level.

Among the doubters, Zierlein quoted an unnamed Pro personnel director for an NFC team, who described Linderbaum as “just a small man (by our standards) and that worries me.”

DeCosta isn’t likely to share that concern since he’s identified the O-line as one of the areas the Ravens must fix this offseason.

Ravens Serious About Repairing Line

DeCosta outlined the franchise’s priorities, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic:

That’s good news for Linderbaum, who has been a popular pick for the Ravens in the first round of mock drafts. He’s the choice for Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo, as well as for NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks.

Linderbaum makes sense for the Ravens on a lot of levels, not least because of his scheme fit. As PFF Draft detailed, Linderbaum is at his best in the running game:

A rating as good as that makes the 21-year-old perfect for the ground-based offense the Ravens still operate under coordinator Greg Roman. Having Jackson and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards healthy again will count for naught if those in front of them are unable to knock open enough holes.

Putting somebody like Linderbaum in the middle, then re-signing Bozeman and switching him to guard, would soon turn one of the Ravens’ obvious weaknesses into a clear strength.

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