With the rookie edge rushers and offensive tackles analyzed in depth, we’re moving to the interior of the offensive line. In recent years, we’ve seen more guards and centers drafted in the first round, with two guards going in the Top-10 a year ago in Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack. Unfortunately, Cooper never took a regular season snap after going down to injury during the preseason but Warmack, as well as fellow first round guard Kyle Long started every game for their respective teams.
We also saw the emergence of our Rookie of the Year, Larry Warford, who more than solidified one of the guard spots in Detroit. He clearly stood out as the best of the rookie interior linemen, all the more impressive considering the learning curve often associated with the position. Here’s a look at all of the rookie interior linemen.
This is by no means a definitive draft grade on any of these players, just a one-year look at their role and production, and perhaps a look forward to how they might improve.
Round 3, No. 65: Larry Warford, Detroit Lions
Role: 16 Starts at RG
Despite three guards going in the Top 21, it took until pick 65 for another to come off the board and he proved to be the best of the bunch in Year 1. Warford’s +22.8 overall grade ranked fourth among all guards as he paired with fellow rookie LaAdrian Waddle to lock down the right side of the Lions’ offensive line.
It was an impressive effort for Warford who played every snap for the Lions while grading positively in 13 of 16 games. That consistency earned him our Rookie of the Year Award and a spot as the Second Team All Pro right guard for us as well.
Pass Block Snaps: 693
Total Pressures: 15
Pass Blocking Efficiency: 98.3
Allowing only 15 pressures on 693 pass block snaps is a good way to kick off a career. Warford’s 98.3 Pass Blocking Efficiency ranked third among guards and was by far the top mark among his fellow rookies. His only negative grade in pass protection came in Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals when Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap got the better of him.
Other than that, it was an exceptional effort in pass protection, including seven games without allowing a pressure. As mentioned with Waddle, Warford did benefit from the quick-hitting passing game in Detroit as quarterback Matthew Stafford’s 2.51 average time to throw was the sixth-quickest in the league, but it doesn’t take away from Warford standing out as one of the best pass protecting guards in 2013.
Run Block Snaps: 465
Warford also posted the highest run blocking game among the rookie guards as his +6.9 mark ranked 17th among all guards in the league. He was very good out in space, grading well on second level blocks as well as pull blocks. He also showed well moving big interior players, so it was a strong all-around effort for Warford in the running game. While it doesn’t always make sense to compare grades across positions, it should be noted that his run grade is the highest posted by a Lions offensive linemen since 2009.
Warford quickly gets to the second level on the trap:
Warford leads the way to a Lions touchdown:
The Lions have to be thrilled with Warford’s first year, particularly after snagging him in the third round. He has the makings of a long-term starter in Detroit.
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