Larry Warford joins Jonathan Cooper (UNC) and Chance Warmack (Alabama) to form one of the better trios of guards to enter the NFL in quite some time. Rarely does an NFL Draft produce multiple first-round guards, but 2013 looks like it could be a possible exception to that rule. While the 2012 Draft had two, it was the only one in the last decade to do so. In fact, four of the last ten Drafts failed to produce a first-round player at the position. The odds are stacked against Warford creeping into round 1, but after a thorough evaluation of his game film, it’s hard not to like him as a top-32 player.
Larry Warford was considered one of the top players at his position by Rivals.com (top 30) during his playing days at Madison Central High School in Richmond, Kentucky. After being named First Team All-State, he committed to the University of Kentucky where he has started every game for the last three seasons (37 games) for the Wildcats. Warford finished the 2012 season as a Third Team All-American and Second Team All-SEC guard. It was the third year in a row that Warford has earned Second Team All-SEC honors.
Larry Warford measured in at 6’3 /333lbs at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. And while he clearly meets all of the NFL minimums for the position, I have concerns over his ability to keep his weight under control as he progresses through his NFL career. His body is not firm/tight. He has a soft mid-section and a very thick trunk. While his lower-half will help him anchor vs. NFL talent, I worry about his range and the overall impact on his game if he adds any more weight.
Warford’s arms, while on the shorter side, are adequate in length for the guard position.
Larry Warford presents as one of the stronger offensive linemen available in the 2013 NFL Draft. He consistently creates a huge jolt on contact, stunning the defender at the point of attack. Warford handled himself well vs. mammoth DT John Jenkins (UGA), displaying plenty of anchor and upper body strength to control the 350lb defensive lineman. Warford’s thick, strong base provides for a plus anchor; he doesn’t get pushed backwards.
MOVEMENT SKILLS/ATHLETIC ABILITY:
Warford was asked to pull a lot for Kentucky. He displayed requisite ability to reach the edge, although he didn’t always look comfortable in space. He has a tendency to take bad angles when trying to complete a block on the second level. With that said, Warford presents as a plus reach and seal prospect who, if he maintains/controls his weight, will be able to spring some plays along the edge.
Warford’s film shows average footwork for the position. He can be heavy-footed at times, which might be a result of overall fatigue. On the plus side, when Warford is engaged with a defender, he keeps his feet chopping. A lot of Warford’s knockdown blocks are a result of his initial jolt combined with great, chopping feet.
At times, Warford appears to lose his balance and he ends up on the ground. While not a “groundhog”, there are lost plays that had he remained on his feet, he could have made an impact.
Warford displays adequate flexibility and knee bend. However, and as stated above, he is teetering on being too thick to sit comfortably in his stance. If he gets any heavier, he could turn into a waist-bender.
Larry Warford does a nice job of maintaining pocket integrity when pass protecting. Rarely is he beaten off the snap of the ball, and he anchors well against the bull rush. He can get overly aggressive at times when trying to stun the defender at the point of attack. As a result, he compromises technique and can be shed by his opponent. Warford possesses a powerful punch, but he can lose track of his hand placement. When Warford’s hands are on the defender’s chest plate, he rarely loses the power position. However, when his hands are in the outside position, he is forced to rely on his brute strength and overall physical size to maintain his assignment. I believe these are coachable issues, as it appears that Warford tries to simply be too aggressive.
Warford is the prototype in-line run blocking guard. He’s strong, he’s thick, and he creates a stunning jolt when he engages with the defender. Warford consistently showcases the ability to drive a defensive lineman backwards when leading the charge in the running game. Even when he faced John Jenkins, he displayed enough strength to engagage and seal the bigger defensive tackle.
Warford’s film shows enough movement and action in space to make him a candidate for ZBS teams, too. While not as ideal a fit, Warford does possess enough athleticism to fight for a spot in that system. As stated above, Warford needs to learn better angles and, likely, will have to shed about 20lbs to thrive in a ZBS.
There just aren’t many 6’3, 333lb men with as much natural ability as Larry Warford. While not as good of an athlete as Jonathan Cooper, Warford appears to be every bit as blessed as Chance Warmack in that department. Physically, Warford appears stronger than both Warmack and Cooper, but his desire to dominate every play has his techinque lagging behind both of his guard classmates. Ideally suited as an in-line, road grading run blocker, Warford is plenty good enough as a pass protector to come in as a rookie and compete for a starting job right away. While I think he will have to be coached on how to stay in control and to use techqnique over brute strength (at times), there’s no doubt that he will be a highly sought-after player likely to hear his name called somewhere in the mid-early portion round 2.
Projected Round: 2nd Round Pick