There's quite a bit of buzz surrounding the 3-0 Boston College Eagles. For the first time since Matt Ryan was at quarterback in 2007, BC is undefeated through three games and the schedule stacks up quite favorably for things to continue. Facing Purdue, Temple, NC State and Louisville over the next four weeks, the Eagles will likely be the favorites in each contest. Then a season-defining stretch of games in consecutive weeks against Miami, Virginia Tech and Clemson will dictate BC's contender status in the ACC.
From a talent perspective, BC has the most NFL talent on the roster that its had in decades. When considering the draft-eligible prospects, high-energy defensive lineman Zach Allen and ball-hawking safety Lukas Denis get most of the buzz. And certainly bell cow running back A.J. Dillon (true sophomore, not eligible) gets plenty of love for his powerful runs and monster production.
Of late, Dillon has been a nightmare for opposing defenses. Across his last ten games, Dillon has totaled 1,688 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Racking up the second most rushing yards ever by a freshman in ACC history in 2017, Dillon is garnering Heisman buzz.
But that buzz and production isn't made possible without the work of an outstanding Eagles' offensive line that is anchored by senior right guard Chris Lindstrom.
A second-team All-ACC blocker in 2017, Lindstrom is amid a streak of 38 consecutive starts and is a big reason why BC has features such a prolific rushing attack. Having spent time at both guard and tackle, Lindstrom has proven to be a versatile player and true model of consistency.
It's not sexy to talk about offensive lineman but Lindstrom is as much of a catalyst for the BC offense as Dillon. Such is life for an offensive lineman but the way he is creating space for Dillon in the run game has me excited about his NFL upside.
Take the opening drive of BC's win over Wake Forest for example. Taking possession on its own 48-yard line, the Eagles ran Dillon behind Lindstrom twice on the right side to set up a third and manageable. On third-and-three, BC ran off-tackle to the left, with Lindstrom leading the way as a pulling guard.
Everything about Lindstrom's (No.75) execution on this rep was textbook. From his quickness out of his stance and steps, to the tight angle he takes to arrive at his landmark on schedule, Lindstrom was precise. When Lindstrom initiates contact, he does so with perfect technique. He leverages the block, gets his head between the defender and the ball and turns his opponent out to create the lane for the touchdown. Dillon started the game with 3 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive to set the tone early, with Lindstrom making that possible.
I''ll get to Lindstrom's power and ability to drive block momentarily, but a big part of what makes him such an appealing NFL prospect and effective blocker is that he wins in a variety of ways, including as a blocker on the move. Lindstrom is also effective as a vertical blocker, picking up second level defenders and working to the perimeter. He plays with good body control and does well to square up moving targets and connect. He illustrates a strong understanding of timing and how his assignment correlates to the play design and gets his work done.
Because of his blend of power, mobility and technique, Lindstrom is a universal scheme fit which increases his NFL valuation. He doesn't limit the scheme in any ways and allows for multiplicity in what his offense can run.
My favorite thing about Lindstrom is that he is a finisher. When he has the chance to bury an opponent and put him on his back, Lindstrom takes full advantage.
It isn't hard to find examples of Lindstrom pancaking defenders and blocking through the whistle; it's littered throughout his tape. That mentality speaks to his competitive toughness and the demeanor the NFL wants in its blockers.
Want to see a grown man move another grown man against his will and snatch his soul? Check out this next rep. This is a terrific showcase of Lindstrom's ability to fit his hands, leverage his hips, accelerate his feet, stay square and maul in the run game.
As you see Dillon continue to plow through ACC defenses the rest of this season, don't forget how important Lindstrom is in creating that space. He just might be doing it for your favorite NFL running back next season.