Corey Linsley has been the center for the Ohio State Buckeyes for the last two years and has played in 42 games overall in his career. He led a unit that included four seniors this past year in what was supposed to be one of the best offensive lines in the Big Ten. The team and Linsley had its moments such as the game against Wisconsin where Linsley dominated against Beau Allen, but overall, the results of the season were inconsistent and in the biggest games, they struggled.
Going to the NFL, Linsley has tools, physical ability and experience that will make him attractive to teams, but he has a lot of work to do and will need a decent amount of time to develop. He has got to do better when it comes to bending at the knee, maximizing his leverage and improving his base. Nevertheless, Linsley does have experience against high level competition, exposure to both zone and gap concepts and some upside as he goes to the NFL. As a result, Linsley projects as a late round pick and potential undrafted free agent that should get a shot to make a roster as a reserve or practice squad.
Vitals & BuildNov 17, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Corey Linsley (71) blocks during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 21-14 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Linsley measured 6’3” 296lbs at the scouting combine with 32” arms. His strength is solid, but he really does a poor job of maximizing it and works harder than he should have to with his leverage. His arm length is fine. Linsley has room to continue adding strength and really does not carry much excess weight around his frame. In addition to getting stronger, Linsley has to work to get the most out of his physical ability.
Athletically, Linsley is relatively average. He does a nice job of getting to the second level and he has some experience pulling, which is too hit or miss at this point. The issue that Linsley runs into is having a narrow base and questionable balance at times. Combining those issues with the fact he does sink his hips enough and is too much of a waist bender, he can have a difficult time hitting blocks in space.
Linsley brings a good amount of effort and works hard as a run blocker, but the results are inconsistent. He is at his best with a defensive lineman right over him where he can throw and land a great punch, gain control and drive the opponent from there. When he has to go get the block, he stands up too much, gets too high and that punch is not as effective because he is not behind his hands.
The result is not only does Linsley have some difficulty driving opponent, he has trouble sustaining them. His lack of balance gives opponents a way out and can knock him backward into the play.
Linsley can do a nice job of getting on an initial block and kicking up to the second level and hitting the linebacker. He has far more trouble going and tracking down a linebacker away from him, he can have trouble doing it without overrunning the play or breaking down to land the block in space. And there are times when linebackers have been able to really jolt him because he is playing so high and drive him back.
Linsley generally has good angles with his blocks, but is too hit or miss in different situations because of technical inconsistency. There are situations where he can help with an initial block, get to the second level and potentially break open a big play, but there are also situations where the opponent is able to knock him off balance, close the hole and shut down the run.
Leverage and getting better at being a knee bender to eliminate base issues will be the biggest challenge Linsley has going forward. The results in college were inconsistent. In the NFL, he is going to be tossed around like a rag doll if he does not address it.
Linsley is more comfortable as a pass protector in terms of what he can offer a team. He is comfortable covering ground laterally and has a good sense of where he needs to be, calling out assignments and putting teammates in good position. Linsley keeps his head on a swivel and does a good job of holding his water when there is not a rusher on him immediately.
Linsley can anchor when he is really focusing on it, but again, when his base is narrow and pad level high, he gets knocked backward and pushed into the pocket both by opposing defensive linemen and some blitzing linebackers. If he can bend his knees better, he can play behind his pads more effectively and maximize his strength.
Linsley still has a good punch and can jolt opponents but he is always working harder than he should be due to bad habits and inability to bend properly. It makes him look weaker than he is, giving opponents a feeling like they can attack the A gap successfully.
Linsley has a great punch in terms of his raw strength, but needs to get his shoulders and body behind them to be more effective and to follow up and be able to drive opponents consistently.
There have been some minor snap issues that appeared to have been cleaned up over the course of the year.
Linsley’s feet are an area that needs to be improved. He not only needs to work to get quicker so that he does not need to lunge and dive as much, but his high center of gravity causes issues with his balance. Linsley is on the ground far, far too much and it is due to not having good balance, not being able to get in position effectively and having to lunge to make a play and just not having his feet keep up with him as he blocks.
Linsley has experience in both gap and zone style blocking. His size would suggest zone, but his range and strength fit more with a gap scheme. Neither one is prohibitive, so he could end up on a team that plays either one.
Linsley is going to have to make a roster as a backup center or a practice squad as a developmental type player. In addition to simply getting stronger, he needs to get better with his flexibility and comfort playing lower. He has a chance to develop into a decent player if those things happen.
Linsley is somewhat similar to Garth Gerhart, a short, squatty center currently with the Green Bay Packers. After leaving Arizona State, Gerhart went undrafted but made the practice squad for the Cleveland Browns before ending up with the Packers. Gerhart has managed to stick and get his chance to take advantage of the time and ability to train to get stronger, so he can try to make the regular roster this year. Linsley may have to make the NFL in a similar manner.
Corey Linsley has some tools and upside that could make him an intriguing player to develop at the next level, but he needs to get better playing lower and with better control and balance. If a team believes he can do those things, they may draft him late in the draft or try to pick him up as an undrafted free agent.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com