The Lions made Kentucky guard Larry Warford their 3rd round pick on Friday night, selecting the massive mauler with the 3rd pick of the 3rd round.
As has been the overwhelmingly positive reaction online and with the limited scope of Lions fans here in Vegas, I really like the pick. Warford played exceptionally well against some future NFL defensive tackles in the rough SEC. He was demonstrably better than both Kyle Long and Justin Pugh, both first round picks, during Senior Bowl practices. Warford looked even better in 2011, when he played at a lighter weight and moved to the second level better.
The weight is the biggest question. By some accounts, Warford ballooned up to 350 during the 2012 season and it showed. He didn’t burst off the line as well and wore down on longer drives, inasmuch as Kentucky actually had long drives. If he stays under 330, he has a chance to be a very good starter. Even at his Combine weight of 332, Warford is an upgrade over departed Stephen Peterman (who signed with the Jets today). His run blocking is decent, but where Warford stood out was his ability to engulf powerful interior rushers and pocket collapsers. Plain and simple, guys are not going to push Warford backwards. His lateral range could be a little better and he will short-arm his punch at times, but didn’t allow a sack all year and graded out at over 90% according to Kentucky coaches. He also thrives at combo blocking, something that Peterman did not do well at all.
Not long before the pick, I listed Warford as my 2nd best player that the Lions should target. The player I had ahead of him was UConn LB Sio Moore, who went to the Raiders with the very next pick. I happen to value linebacker more than guard, but I also like the current LBs on the roster better than the guard options other than Rob Sims. Put Warford in the starting lineup in dark pencil, and color Lions fans everywhere happy.