It is generally agreed on that the Buccaneers should be targeting a defensive player in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. The team should perhaps be looking defense with its first few picks, but offensive line might also be a legitimate need — especially looking beyond this year. So, where would Tampa Bay look to potentially address that?
If one of the better interior offensive lineman prospects is available at the top of the second round, might the Bucs be interested? One such prospect is Boston College lineman Chris Lindstrom, who is someone with a late first or early second-round grade. As our 40 Prospects in 40 Days series continues, we take a look at Lindstrom and whether or not he would be a fit for Tampa Bay.
Chris Lindstrom’s Career
Lindstrom was an all-state player in Massachusetts as a high school senior in 2014 before heading to Boston College for his collegiate career. As a freshman in 2015, he started nine of the team’s 12 games. All nine starts came at right guard, which led into 2016, when he started all 13 games at the position for the Eagles. He then played most of his junior year at right tackle, earning All-ACC second-team honors. According to his Boston College profile, he was the highest-graded lineman on the team in 2017. Lindstrom was then back at right guard for his senior season in 2018, continuing to impress and build up his draft stock. Before the season, he was named to the ACC Preseason Team, received Preseason All-American honors from Athlon Sports and was included in the Outland Trophy Watch List. After the year, he was a selection to the All-ACC first team.
Lindstrom’s athleticism is his top quality, as he has a rare quickness and ability to move laterally. His performance at the combine showcased that and placed him above a lot of the players at his position in terms of athletic ability. His 4.91-second 40-yard dash, 4.54-second 20-yard shuttle and 117-inch broad jump placed him in the upper level of interior offensive linemen in this year’s class.
With such quickness and athleticism, he should be able to match up well with the speed he’ll see at the professional level. He isn’t all that big, but his ability should help compensate for that.
Lindstrom’s NFL.com draft profile notes that he has both the athleticism and mental makeup to play center. Not only that, but he obviously has plenty of starting experience at guard and tackle. Such versatility will serve him well no matter where he ends up.
The biggest downside for Lindstrom is probably his size, which is wild considering he stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 308 pounds. That’s not exactly a small dude. His profile on NFL.com says he “lacks the length, mass and strength some teams will want.” It’s evident in the spider graph above that his measurables are signficantly lower than those of his counterparts in the class.
Because of the relative lack of size, Lindstrom could struggle against some of the bigger defensive linemen he’ll see in the league. His “weaknesses” in Lance Zierlein’s analysis have a lot to do with size and strength — or lack thereof. According to that analysis, Lindstrom is “high-hipped and thin below the knees,” has “short arms and lacks traits for consistent block finishes” and “lacks upper-body strength to press and extend defenders out of his frame.”
As mentioned earlier, though, his athleticism is able to make up for what he lacks in size and strength. Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network praised Lindstrom’s power at the point of attack, saying this:
Pushes people around but in a unique sense. Plays more with a sense of urgency and wins with quickness rather than swallowing up defenders at the point of attack with raw power. That said? Generates ample push and movement.
That sounds like a guy who knows how to be successful by playing to his strengths and masking his weaknesses.
Why The Buccaneers Need Him
Tampa Bay’s offensive line is far from set — in 2019 and even further beyond. The left side is set for this year and a number of years to come, with Donovan Smith at left tackle and Ali Marpet at left guard. The rest of the line isn’t as solidified. With a $10 million cap hit in 2019, Ryan Jensen is locked in at center. On the right side, Alex Cappa and veteran Earl Watford are battling for the right guard spot. Demar Dotson will more than likely still be the right tackle, but he has to be nearing the end of his career. Overall, the right side is a question mark.
So, looking at this year, Lindstrom would probably figure in as a threat to win the right guard job. His experience at tackle makes him a potential backup to Dotson, but he’s better-suited for an interior spot. Where things might get interesting, then, is in 2020. Should the Bucs like Lindstrom enough to draft him, he could play right guard this year and possibly shift to center in 2020, when the team has a potential out in Jensen’s contract. Getting a guy like Lindstrom to lock in on the interior of the line — whether it’s at guard or center — for years to come wouldn’t be a bad idea for Tampa Bay.
Will It Happen?
It’s probably unlikely, though it’s not worth throwing out completely. It just depends on how front offices view him, as well as how needs are around the league. The Draft Network’s Benjamin Solak ranks Lindstrom as the No. 2 interior offensive lineman in the draft, though interior guys don’t always get picked at a high rate. Here’s where Lindstrom is going in some of the most recent mock drafts:
CBS Sports (R.J. White): Round 2, Pick 10 (42nd overall) — Philadelphia Eagles
Walter Football: Round 1, Pick 25 25th overall) — Philadelphia Eagles
Lindstrom could be going late in the first round. If that’s the case, the Bucs obviously would be out on him unless they somehow traded very far down in round one or traded back in. The more legitimate shot is in the second round. Tampa Bay’s second pick is No. 39 overall, so if he slipped to that point, it might be a realistic choice for Jason Licht and his staff.