2022 IOL Class; Top Prospects for the Early Rounds

IOL1 | Tyler Linderbaum

6’2″ 296 lbs | Iowa (31.12″ Arms)

Linderbaum may be the most fun prospect to scout in this entire class as he brings old school muscle to the modern game. He racked up the awards and trophies in 2021, as he was a unanimous All-American and won the Rimington Trophy awarded to the nation’s top center. Linderbaum dominated college football as one of the most explosive run blockers and high IQ offensive lineman. He played a key role in the development of a young quarterback and finished the season as the highest graded player in college football by PFF. Linderbaum flies around the field with exceptional speed that resembles a Tight End.

The downside is a bit obvious, as he weighed in below 300 lbs with very short arms for an offensive lineman…the frame is far from perfect. However, his intangibles make up for any detractors, and 296 lbs is not tiny for an NFL center. He will add on mass throughout his career and at the end of the day, the things that cannot be taught are his exceptionally high IQ play style and symphonic technique. Linderbaum is locked in as the top rated Center in this class, but his stock is a bit volatile due to the positional value.

IOL2 | Kenyon Green

6’4” 323 lbs | (34.12” Arms)

Kenyon Green is a polished guard prospect that enters the draft with the ideal frame and exceptional tape. The ceiling is extremely high, and he projects as a high caliber mauler in the right scheme. There were times that Green was slowed down in his career, but most of that was when he was forced to play on the outside as a starting tackle. Despite having great height and reach to play tackle, his true potential lies on the inside where he utilizes his leverage and power exceptionally. He does not have the skillset or burst to keep up with edge rushers bending around but has a very polished toolset and that packs a punch and does have very quick and strong legs. Despite not having the best pass blocking skillset, when he plugged into the LG spot, he had some of the best tape in the entire class.

Despite having exceptionally better tape when he was playing LG, he does have the versatility and athleticism to move around the line. His explosiveness is off the charts, but he will have a steep learning curve in the league to become better laterally. Another area of improvement will be his hand placement, which at times is far too wide and led to a penalty problem early in 2021. He seemed to sort this issue out in the second half of the season, but as mentioned earlier, he was a bit out of his element switching positions all season. Green has the skillset to be a 1st round guard who will bring great power and speed to the team that drafts him.

IOL3 | Zion Johnson

6’3” 312 lbs | (34” Arms)

Johnson is the classic phone booth guard that brings an exceptional blend of brains and brawn to the table. His stock blew up at the Senior Bowl, where he was highly praised by scouts for his on-field work ethic and off-field professionalism. Johnson was also vocal about being open to playing all 5 spots throughout the week, rather than dismissing advice for NFL personnel as we have seen from time-to-time with diva prospects. Obviously, ability and ceiling are the most important things for a prospect, but professionalism and flexibility go a very long way in this business. Johnson brings tremendous power to the table and has ideal size and frame for an NFL interior lineman.

Johnson lacks elite burst and get off and is often caught off guard by more advanced blitzes. It is also worth noting that he was a 5th year senior, but still will be just 22 for the majority of his rookie year. With Johnson it is what you see is what you get. He is a highly consistent offensive lineman that will be a starting interior lineman for a long time, but he is far from an athletic freak at the position so he could get selected anywhere from the mid-1st to the late 2nd.

IOL4 | Darian Kinnard

6’5” 322 lbs | (35” Arms)

Kinnard has been one of my favorite prospects that continues to somehow fly under the radar. He really hasn’t caught much 1st round buzz but has tremendous upside and the potential to be a high-end starter in the NFL. He is one of the most physically imposing linemen in the class and towers over many as he is a true 6’5” 322, with exceptionally long and strong arms. He is as solid as the come and would be the exact size of your Madden “create a player” if you were designing a versatile OL. Kinnard played RT for the Wildcats over the last three seasons and graded out exceptionally well, with a 91.9, 91.5 and 89.2.

Despite the potential and ability Kinnard possesses, I am not 100% sold that he can be a successful OT in the NFL. I have him lumped into this group because it seems that his potential is to be a versatile guard, but as we all know, young offensive linemen tend to move around until they find their sweet spot. Kinnard doesn’t have the quickest feet, best balance, or most sound technique, but he does bring insane size, leverage, and power. His skillset translates incredibly well to be a starting guard in the league, but he will face an uphill battle in pass sets early in his career. The raw potential alone should be more than enough to keep Kinnard in the 2nd round.

IOL5 | Jamaree Salyer

6’3” 320 lbs | 33.63” Arms

Jamaree Salyer was the starting LT of the Georgia Bulldogs since taking over for Andrew Thomas in 2020, but likely will be drafted to play as an interior lineman in the NFL. Not only did Georgia’s scheme not involve many sophisticated pass pro concepts, but he also has tendencies to play high and off balance. However, he graded out exceptionally well in 2021 with a pass block efficiency of 99.2, so it isn’t his biggest detractor. The tape isn’t the cleanest in this aspect and he is often caught lunging to slow down faster pass rushers around the edge, which has had him labeled as a “waist bender” in NFL circles. The frame is also far more suitable for the interior, and he also brings a power violence to his run blocking that will benefit him greatly in the right scheme. Salyer has the benefit of being from one of the strongest programs in the country and has 5-star pedigree, but he is very raw as a prospect and lacks elite traits that will lower his ceiling.   

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