ALAMEDA, Calif. — It was one comment in a hotel lobby.
Maybe it foreshadows the future.
Chris Lindstrom, a top guard prospect in the 2019 NFL draft, was one of the players the Raiders coached at the Senior Bowl. His week in Mobile, Alabama, was memorable.
Lindstrom still keeps the Boston College helmet he wore — a Raiders coach slapped a Raiders logo on it during the Jan. 26 game. He maintains friendships built there and retains lessons about hand technique that offensive line coach Tom Cable imparted during practice.
Toward the end of the week, he and coach Jon Gruden casually crossed paths. This conversation endures, too.
“He said, ‘I’d love to take you back to Oakland,’” Lindstrom said.
Next week is Gruden’s chance. The Raiders are expected to draft a starting guard, and it could be someone who started in the last game they coached. Lindstrom is a highly athletic prospect who passed each stage of the pre-draft process. He also happens to share an alma mater with Mike Mayock, the club’s first-year general manager.
Lindstrom was part of a stacked offensive line on the Senior Bowl’s North squad.
The group included Garrett Bradbury, a center from North Carolina State, who is projected to go in the first round. Dalton Risner, a tackle from Kansas State, is an early option for the Raiders, given he could move to guard in the NFL. Lindstrom started at right guard during the Senior Bowl with Risner at right tackle. Erik McCoy, a center from Texas A&M, rotated in for Bradbury.
An NFL team can feel confident about Lindstrom starting as a rookie. He’s been thrust into action before.
Lindstrom, a projected first- or second-rounder, arrived at Boston College in the spring of 2015 at 235 pounds. He grew to 260 by the time he was called upon as a true freshman. Despite being vastly undersized, he started nine games at right guard. The mixed on-field results were to be expected. But he grew from the experience.
Lindstrom followed a plan the Eagles’ strength and conditioning staff devised, gradually putting on weight. Ultimately, Lindstrom said, he weighed 305 pounds as a junior and 310 as a senior. He maintained his athleticism, too. At the NFL combine in March, he finished second among offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash (4.91 seconds) and the broad jump (117 inches).
A mature steadiness defined Lindstrom’s approach in college.
This same steadiness has been on display as he prepares to enter the NFL, said Pete Bommarito, who helped train Lindstrom in South Florida for the combine. He called the 22-year-old “the perfect client.”
“Obviously, he’s physical,” said Bommarito, founder of Bommarito Performance Systems. “You see it on tape. He’s athletic, which he showed at the combine. … When I say ‘the perfect client,’ we’re talking a mentality, a locker-room guy. It’s beyond work ethic. … It’s not just training hard but training smart, understanding the science behind his body.
“He did the speed training great and lifted weights aggressively and worked with his position coach. He did all of those things. It’s all the other little things in terms of regeneration, recovery, nutrition, nutrient timing, supplementation, interview preparation process.He attacked everything like his life and his whole draft stock depended upon it. I think that’s why teams have him on the rise because he has zero weaknesses. He did everything well. … He just keeps getting better and better because he cares and he works at it. … The kid is, I think, as safe a bet as you can find in this draft.”
Lindstrom, whose father, Chris Sr., was an NFL defensive lineman, understands the process ahead. He has no sway in which team drafts him. And he’ll appreciate whichever team does, he said.
He also appreciated the opportunity to play under the Raiders staff.
“They were huge in developing me as a player, even in just that week,” Lindstrom said. “I got so much better from working with them. … I’d be grateful for any of the 32 teams, but it’d be a really big pleasure and honor. They’re one of the most storied franchises in the NFL.
“It’d be a privilege to play for the Raiders and under great coaches like that. There’s so much development as a player that I could do.”
Five top offensive linemen in draft
OT Jawaan Taylor, Florida
C Garrett Bradbury, NC State
OT/G Jonah Williams, Alabama
G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
OT/G Dalton Risner, Kansas State