A favorite pastime of sportswriters and college football programs alike is to dub themselves as “Position U,” whether it was Penn State’s run as “Linebacker U” or Southern California’s five Heisman-winning running backs that earned them the nod as “Tailback U.” There’s something about position groups at certain college football programs that create a standard of excellence that those that follow seek to live up to.
So, on Thursday night, when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Boston College football offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom as the 14th overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons, it was no surprise that many pointed to BC’s prolific history in the trenches. Lindstrom became the 20th Eagle to be drafted in the first round, and of that group, nine have been offensive lineman. The numbers reveal more if you look back to 2000—no other school has had a higher percentage (36 percent) of their draft picks come from the offensive line during that time period, per PickSix Previews.
Much has been made about BC’s impressive secondary, especially in recent years under former defensive backs coach Anthony Campanile with five defensive backs selected, but a thorough look at what head coach Steve Addazio has been able to do with his offensive line—alongside assistant coaches Justin Fyre and Phil Trautwein—is more than deserved. Addazio and his offensive coordinators have been rightfully criticized at times for poor game planning, ineffective red zone scoring, and a reliance on the run game. But in his five-year tenure, there’s never been a question of the ability to develop and form capable offensive lines, no matter the turnover from the year before.
When Lindstrom arrived at BC in 2015, he held just one other collegiate offer (Old Dominion). He weighed 240 pounds and had a smile defined by braces on his signing day. Still, he measured in at 260 pounds and started from the third game on as a freshman, started all 13 games as a sophomore, then grew into an All-ACC Second Team selection as a junior. He graded out that year as the team’s top offensive lineman, a pivotal piece of a bunch that allowed just 13 sacks while piling up almost 230 rushing yards per game. The senior year was his coronation—an All-ACC First Team nod featuring a 1.1 percent pressure rate without a sack allowed—and culminated in a selection by the Falcons.
If that’s not a striking example of the work Addazio and Co. are able to do, I’m not sure what else to point at. Lindstrom is far from the first and certainly won’t be the last player that the former Florida offensive line coach molds into a NFL-worthy player. Take a look at the other member of the departing offensive line group who will compete for a NFL roster spot: Aaron Monteiro. The senior signed with the Miami Dolphins shortly after the draft concluded on Saturday.
A former three-star prospect, Monteiro had offers from four schools—Iowa, Massachusetts, and Connecticut—and chose the Eagles. He was ranked outside the top-100 at his position in the country, but quickly made five starts as a freshman and didn’t relinquish his spot on the line the rest of his career. He went from weighing 336 pounds to 320 by his senior year, where he wrapped up his career having made 32 straight starts at left tackle.
This story repeats time and time again, especially under Addazio. When he arrived at Chestnut Hill and took over in 2013, BC was coming off of a 2-10 season under the much chagrined Frank Spaziani. The Eagles managed just 3.2 yards per carry, finished 111th in points per game, and the offensive line was chasing defenders all around the field—BC allowed 34 sacks, 102nd of 124 teams. Under Addazio’s watchful eye, that number quickly took a nosedive. The Eagles have ranked 46th, 31st, 72nd, 71st, 12th, and 37th in protecting the quarterback. That improvement also appears in the rushing offense, as BC has ranked outside the top-50 in rushing yardage just twice during the same span.
This success has been the result of excellent offensive line development from Addazio and his staff. Lindstrom is the shining example, going from a little-regarded prospect to a first-round NFL Draft pick, but he’s not the only one. Monteiro’s rise from a Brockton, Mass. recruit is similarly impressive, as is several other All-ACC examples. Under Addazio, 11 offensive linemen have earned all-conference nods. Of those that Addazio recruited and coached from start to finish, not a single of the five earned higher than three stars on 247Sports and several held few offers.
Thus, a simple star rating next to an incoming BC offensive line recruit shouldn’t reflect the potential of the position group. With Jon Baker, Monteiro, and Lindstrom departing, the burden will shift to the next crop of linemen. Ben Petrula is a returning All-ACC Honorable Mention selection, and he’ll anchor the line alongside the likes of Alec Lindstrom, John Phillips, Elijah Johnson, Davidson transfer Zion Johnson, and Tyler Vrabel.
All this being said, Lindstrom’s selection in the first round was a fitting continuation of a run of strong offensive line play at BC. Much of the attention the last few seasons has gone—deservedly so—to the likes of star defensive ends Harold Landry and Zach Allen or running back and preseason Heisman candidate A.J. Dillon. Still, you’d be remiss to not appreciate the consistency Addazio has found through recruiting and development of offensive linemen, even if it’s just an undersized local kid with a few offers.
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