USA TODAY Sports
A Big Wildcat for the Offensive Line
As we go through the 2013 Draft prospects and scout players that may appeal to the Denver Broncos, we come across an interesting kid who plays on the Offensive Line. Let me introduce you to Larry Warford out of Kentucky.
Warford is a 6’3", 333 lb. Guard that lettered 3 times for the Wildcats. With a pre-Combine 40 Time is listed as 5.34 seconds, Larry is ranked 3rd out of 225 Guard prospects nationwide and 69th overall for the 2013 NFL Draft. He is projected to be selected in the 2-3rd round.
- AP All-American 3rd Team (2012)
- All-SEC second team by SEC coaches, AP, Phil Steele's College Football (2011)
- Sophomore All-America second team by CollegeFootballNews.com (2010)
- All-SEC second team by SEC coaches, AP, Rivals.com, Phil Steele's College Football (2010)
- SEC All-Freshman Team by SEC coaches (2009)
Larry has the potential to be one of the top linemen in the SEC, if not the nation, if he continues to progress. He has notable speed and quickness for a player his size. Quickness combined with power, has enabled him to lead the team in knockdown blocks the last two seasons ... Has played in 47 games, starting 37 in a row.
As a Junior (2011), Warford received 2nd-team All-SEC honors from multiple selectors. He started every game for the 2nd consecutive season and led the team in knockdown blocks with 34. Larry graded out at 87.5 percent for the season and allowed only one Sack. He was also on the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award as the nation's best lineman.
In his Sophomore season, Larry earned 2nd-team All-SEC honors from multiple selectors, while starting every game and leading the Wildcats in knockdown blocks with 43.
In 2009, Warford earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team as chosen by the league coaches. He played in 10 games, mostly as a reserve at Right Guard.
He played Tackle for his junior and senior seasons in High School after moving to Kentucky from California. His Coach at Madison Central, Kenny Turner said, "Larry is a very powerful blocker at the point of attack. He has size, speed and agility. He has excellent feet and gets downfield to make blocks. He's also an intelligent player with good football instincts."
In an article published in April, 2011, UK offensive line coach Mike Summers had a few things to say about Larry.
"I'm so impressed by what he does. I don't ever tell him that, but there's no doubt that he is one of the elite linemen in the country. But he still has a lot of things he has to do with that talent to perform at that level consistently."
"You never expect an offensive lineman to play as a true freshman, but athletically he was ready, and he had a huge understanding of our offense, so we were forced to play him," Coach Joker Phillips said.
"He really understands the concept of hand development," Summers said. "And so few offensive lineman understand the value of their hands and how much of a lever that creates for you in terms of power and in terms of quickness. He's really developed that part of his game and, for his size, he's got really good feet, so his body is never in a bad position, where he's twisted around or out of shape. He's usually in front and in position and, at that size, he's a hard guy to move out of the way."
GRADE - 85.3
Despite playing in the SEC, a conference known for its talent on the offensive line, Kentucky hasn’t had one of their "big uglies" picked in the NFL draft since 1993. Warford will certainly change that trend, as the three-time second-team All-SEC pick has been on scouts’ radar since he arrived in Lexington. Coaches point to Warford’s improvements on and off the field when questioned about their star lineman by the media, which is a good sign for his potential as an NFL starter.
Warford was actually a basketball player when attending high school in California, but changed his focus to football after moving to Madison Central in Kentucky for his junior and senior seasons. That move paid off early in his Wildcats career, as he was named by league coaches to the Freshman All-SEC team after he played 10 games as a reserve in 2009. His all-conference accolades came the next three seasons as he started all 37 games at right guard.
STRENGTHS Big-bodied guard prospect with lower-body girth. Quick feet for his size, keeps them moving in pass protection to mirror his man and can adjust quickly to ride defenders penetrating gaps out of the play. Also plays with knee bend and has arm length to maintain distance from his man, will reset and punch with one or two hands throughout the play. Capable of getting off tackle block to pick up delayed blitzer. Flashes quickness to trap and get around the tackle to lead run plays. Gets down quickly to cut block and take out linebackers in the hole on traps. Hustles downfield to help out ballcarriers when needed. Plays with some attitude, brings some pop to his punch when helping his tackle against a pass rusher.
WEAKNESSES As one might imagine for someone of his size, Warford is not tremendously explosive out of his stance. He also struggles to react quickly enough to defenders who are simply diving at his legs. For this reason, running directly behind him on short yardage situations is not as successful as one might expect given his size. It's also possible that quicker defensive lineman in the NFL with active hands could give him problems due to this deficiency.
NFL COMPARISON Marshal Yanda
BOTTOM LINE Warford translated his power as a drive-blocker, unexpected foot quickness and downfield hustle into a fantastic, decorated college career –- and should win his share of battles against NFL linemen when able to get his thick body moving quickly off the snap. That size, strength, and those surprising nimble feet should help him nab a draft slot in the top half of the draft and step into a starting lineup at the next level immediately.
For most, the University of Kentucky will always be a "basketball school." While the Wildcats' football team certainly has a long way to go before challenging its hoopster counterparts, the team quietly has produced a number of solid NFL prospects in recent years, including Green Bay wide receiver Randall Cobb, Buffalo wide receiver Stevie Johnson and Denver tight end Jacob Tamme. While Warford hasn't produced the gaudy statistics of his pass-catching predecessors, he's consistently proven himself a standout against SEC competition.
Warford saved his best for last, however. He did not allow a single sack in 2012 and was the first Kentucky offensive lineman to earn AP All-American recognition since Warren Bryant was recognized in 1976.
Considering his frame and experience, Warford may get looks at center as well as his customary right guard position by scouts. Warford's girth and inconsistent footwork are concerns but he's likely to challenge for a spot among the top 100 picks.
STRENGTHS: Possesses a short, squatty frame with broad shoulders, making him difficult for defensive tackles to slip past when he's in pass protection. Surprising balance and lateral agility in pass protection, showing the ability to slide in either direction. Strong hands which he uses to grab hold of the chest plate of the defender and pull him in close, negating any quickness or arm-length advantage the defender might have. Shows good awareness to handle surprise blitzes and the competitiveness to finish off defenders he sees off-balance. At least adequate initial quickness when getting out to pull. Uses his girth and impressive initial explosive pop to knock defenders off the ball.
WEAKNESSES: Carries too much weight around his middle. Slow, even for a man of his size. Lacks the straight-line speed to consistently get to the second level in time to make blocks on the move. Drops his head at times, making him vulnerable to swim moves by quicker defensive tackles.
COMPARES TO: Uche Nwaneri, OG, Jacksonville Jaguars -- With a similar body-type, mauling style and level of durability, Warford could join Nwaneri as a dependable starter in the NFL.--Rob Rang
Larry Warford Scouting Report
By Charlie Campbell | Walter Football
Summary: Warford is an underrated prospect who could surprise at the next level. He has been one of the most effective linemen in the SEC the past couple of seasons. Warford has gone against a ton of elite competition, yet none of those tackles have had their way with him. Warford neutralized three first-round defensive tackles in 2012: Missouri's Sheldon Richardson, Florida's Sharrif Floyd and Georgia's John Jenkins.
Kentucky was terrible in this season, but Warford was extremely good. He opened up holes in the ground game and performed well in pass protection. Warford is a better athlete and quicker than one would think.
Warford battled well against Floyd and kept him off the quarterback. Warford played even better against Richardson. He completely shut down Richardson's pass rush. The plays that the Missouri standout had success on only came when he went against other offensive linemen. Kentucky almost upset Georgia, and Warford played a big role with how he kept Jenkins from causing disruption.
Warford had an excellent week of practice at the Senior Bowl that illustrated he can handle power tackles and speedy gap-shooters. He was the only offensive linemen who could consistently handle Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins. Warford blasted open running holes in practice and the offense had a lot of success running behind him in the team scrimmage.
Warford has a complete skill set. He is too strong and powerful to be bull rushed. Warford uses that power to be a force in the ground game. He constantly pushes his blocker aside to open running lanes. What is very impressive about Warford is how quick and athletic he is for such a big blocker. He handled speed-rushers like Richardson and Floyd extremely well. Warford shielded their speed rushes and uses his hand strength to sustain blocks.
Warford looks like a plug-and-play candidate for the NFL. At the very worst, he shouldn't need long before he is ready to start. Warford would be a perfect fit in a power man-blocking scheme. Warford could be good in a zone scheme as well, but might want to get into the 320s for that style of ground game. The impressive week in Mobile should solidify Warford's second-day status, and he could easily go in the top-60 selections.
Player Comparison: Brian Waters. Waters was a six-time Pro Bowler over his excellent career with the Chiefs and Patriots. Warford's style of play with his consistent effectiveness in the ground game and pass protection remind me of Waters. Warford, in all probability, will be a top-100 pick, which contrasts with Waters, who went undrafted out of North Texas. Warford benefits from the NFL putting a great emphasis on guards.
NFL Matches: Jacksonville, Detroit, Tennessee, San Diego, Dallas, New York Giants, New England
A lot of teams could target a guard on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft. Warmack would be a good fit for any of these seven teams with their second-round pick.
Larry Warford vs. Florida (2012)
Larry Warford vs Missouri 2012
2013 NFL Draft Profile: Larry Warford - Kentucky
I could envision Larry Warford in a Bronco uniform, but I really don’t think he will be allowed to drop down to their 2nd pick at #58. The San Diego Chargers interviewed Larry at the Senior Bowl and they are desperate for Offensive Lineman. If Denver were to select him, they would be getting a kid that while needs a little conditioning, could push for a starting spot as a rookie. That is all you can really ask of a projected 2-3rd round draft pick.
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