Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum forgoes senior season to enter 2022 NFL Draft

College football's best offensive lineman is taking his talents to the NFL. Iowa junior center Tyler Linderbaum announced Friday via social media that he will forgo his senior season to enter the 2022 NFL Draft. He was listed as the No. 14 overall draft prospect in NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest big board in December. 

A look at his resume quickly explains why he's held in high regard. Linderbaum earned the highest season grade of all time by a center this season via Pro Football Focus at 95.2. As a sophomore in 2019, he earned another 90-plus grade. 

He's a two-time all-Big Ten first-team selection and this season was a unanimous All-American, Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, the Rimington Trophy winner for the nation's best center and a finalist for the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top interior lineman. 

His place in Iowa offensive lineman history is already cemented, joining former greats such as Tristan Wirfs, Brandon Scherff, Marshal Yanda and many more. Now, he'll continue to add to that legacy by pursuing a successful professional career. 

Linderbaum also used the newly implemented name, image and likeness rules in a unique way. He donated all $30,000 earned to the Iowa Children's Hospital that overlooks Kinnick Stadium. 

"I will forever be thankful for all the love and support I have received over the last four years and truly could not imagine my time anywhere else," the Solon native tweeted at around 8:30 a.m. Friday. "... To my coaches, thank you for taking a chance on a small-town Iowa kid. Thank you for pushing me to be a great football player but an even better man."

Looking at next year's offensive line

Linderbaum's departure leaves a massive void in the Hawkeyes' offensive line for the 2022 season, but there's still reason to believe that, as a whole, the unit can take major steps forward. 

Talented freshmen Connor Colby, who started 11 times at right guard but could flex out to tackle, and left tackle Mason Richman experienced ups and downs through the 2021 season but figure to be ready to take a big leap next season. Veteran guards Justin Britt and Cody Ince battled injuries throughout the season but both will compete for significant playing time next year. Then there are talented  freshmen who didn't play but took strides during bowl practice, according to offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz: David Davidkov and Beau Stephens. 

More:Leistikow: Projecting Iowa football's starters for the 2022 season

At Linderbaum's actual position, junior Matt Fagan was the listed backup on the depth chart throughout the season, but keep an eye on rising sophomore Mike Myslinksi. The former Texas commit also drew praise from Brian Ferentz during bowl prep and practiced almost exclusively with the second team this year. The Hawkeyes could also give Ince a look as an emergency backup; he earned praise last spring for his versatility at all five positions on the line. 

Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at