The New York Giants have almost nothing but questions along their offensive line. They were anticipated to have one of the weakest offensive lines in the NFL going into 2021, and somehow the situation is even worse heading into the 2022 offseason.
Perhaps the biggest question is at center. Nick Gates developed nicely over the course of 2020, but a devastating leg injury has left his career in doubt. Billy Price, who was acquired to replace Gates is entering free agency.
Fortunately for the Giants, the 2022 NFL Draft has solid depth at the center position. The Giants could look at Boston College center Alec Lindstrom, younger brother of former first round guard Chris Lindstrom, as a potential value pick later in the draft.
Games played: 48
Best: Zone blocking, Football IQ, Quickness, Competitive toughness
Worst: Play strength, Man-gap blocking
Projection: A center with early starting upside in a zone blocking scheme
Boston College’s Alec Lindstrom is an experienced and smart center prospect. Lindstrom has solid size at 6-foot-3, 298 pounds and adequate movement skills for the position. He has the foot speed and quickness to efficiently get out of his stance and into zone or slide protection. Likewise, he has enough speed to get into position on screen plays or blocking in space when working up to the second level.
Lindstrom has a high football IQ and is at his best when working alongside his guards. He plays with great technique in those circumstances, timing his steps well and playing hip-to-hip, shoulder-to-shoulder with his linemates. Lindstrom also shows a good feel for working off of double teams and making blocks at the second level to spring runs for bigger gains than they are initially blocked. He also does a great job of selling the run block on play-action passes, showing no difference between the play-fake and an actual run.
Lindstrom is a reliable pass protector with enough quickness and agility to mirror most interior rushers, as well as the awareness to pick up blitzers or deal with stunts and twists. He also has the ability to anchor against bullrushes when he is playing with a wide base, good knee bend, and good pad level. He plays with good competitive toughness, bringing consistent effort, straining to sustain blocks, and consistently looking for work throughout the play.
That said, Lindstrom’s greatest weakness is a lack of great play strength. While he is able to anchor against powerful defensive tackles when he plays with good leverage, he can be overwhelmed when he allows his pad level to rise. Lindstrom also struggles to move defensive linemen on man-gap power runs, instead needing to rely on using angles to seal running lanes.
Lindstrom can also be inconsistent in snapping the ball. He had two bad snaps each in his games against Notre Dame (2020) and Clemson (2021).
Overall Grade: 7.1
Alec Lindstrom projects as a center with starting upside, though how soon he is able to start will depend on the blocking scheme of the team that drafts him.
Teams that use diverse blocking schemes or regularly ask their centers to hold up in one-on-one match-ups will likely want to give Lindstrom a year or so of development. Teams that use man-gap schemes could use that time for Lindstrom to work with their offensive line coach on being more consistent in his leverage, as well as a year of work in their strength and conditioning program.
That said, Lindstrom has the potential to push for a starting job much earlier for a team that uses a zone blocking scheme and prizes smarts, teamwork, and mobility in their blockers over raw power. He absolutely thrives when he is allowed to play hip-to-hip with his guards on combo blocks before working to the second level. Lindstrom is also adept at getting defensive linemen flowing on zone runs while using his positioning to seal them off from the ball carrier and creating cutback lanes.
The biggest “red flag” on Lindstrom’s tape is his slight tendency to be wild in his snaps.
This isn’t a consistent problem for him, but it can be disastrous when it occurs. Team will need to find out whether or not it’s related to the speed of the game or pressure in big moments, and decide whether or not the problem is fixable. Lindstrom certainly has starting upside in the right scheme, but only if teams can count on him to deliver the snap cleanly every time.