Chris Lindstrom is the future of Atlanta’s offensive line. After a slightly better-than-average rookie year riddled with injuries, the former first-round pick made quite the impression in his second season. Arthur Smith has already mentioned Lindstrom as one of the few players that initially stood out during his thorough film review. Smith also spoke in the Flying Coach podcast about how important Rodger Saffold was to the offenses in Tennessee when he was offensive coordinator, and I believe Lindstrom could have a similar impact.
Lindstrom’s run-blocking is menacing, and his pass-blocking isn’t far behind. Expect his ascension to continue as Dwayne Ledford is brought in to maximize his potential. Pro Football Focus has already recognized his potential after including him in their recently released Top 25 Players Under 25. He’s the only member of the team to make the list, sneaking in as the 25th best player under 25. Lindstrom was one of two guards and five linemen in total to make the list, but PFF also gave him respect earlier in the offseason when they named him the 12th best at his position overall.
Even with all of this praise, analytics say that Lindstrom will reach his full potential in 2021. Trench players, in general, tend to reach their full potential later. While with other positions like safety, the learning curve isn’t as steep. PFF investigated the learning curves from college football to the NFL, which shed light on each position’s production arc using WAR.
Broadly, the PFF WAR model does these things, in order:
- Determine how good a given player was during a period of time (generally a season) using PFF grades;
- Map a player’s production to a “wins” value for his team using the relative importance of each facet of play;
- Simulate a team’s expected performance with a player of interest and with an average player participating identically in his place. Take the difference in expected wins (e.g., Wins Above Average);
- Determine the average player with a given participation profile’s wins above replacement player, assuming a team of replacement-level players is a 3-13 team;
- Add the terms in the last two calculations to get that player’s WAR.
A few observations PFF came away with was offensive linemen struggle during their rookie season much more than other positions, and they don’t reach their full potential until their third or fourth year in the league. As Lindstrom already performed impressively in his second year, this is great news.
As a cumulative statistic, WAR was recorded over a four-year period, broken down into percentages each year. Guards only accumulate 30% of their four-year WAR total in their first two seasons, and the data shows that nearly 40% of their total WAR comes in their third season alone. Expect Lindstrom to challenge for All-Pro honors under Arthur Smith and Dwayne Ledford.