On the heels of a miserable football season comes some much-needed UK love, this time for fomer Kentucky offensive lineman Larry Warford in the form of a full blog post over at ESPN.com's football site, NFL Nation.
We all knew Waford was an outstanding player, even though he only managed to garner second-team SEC honors in his final season, as well as the two previous. Warford, as you may recall, was picked 65th overall in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions.
Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com reports how well Larry has performed so far:
According to Pro Football Focus, Warford has not allowed a sack in any of his 946 snaps this season. He's allowed Detroit's quarterbacks to be hit a total of four times and hurried nine times. All of those are numbers that are at a Pro Bowl level for the player who was beginning to prepare for the NFL draft at this point last year. PFF rates him as the fourth-best guard in the NFL and the second-best right guard behind Denver's Louis Vasquez.
I am not the least big surprised. There was nothing but consistency in Warford's play at Kentucky, and he seems destined to have a long and productive NFL career if he can stay healthy, which is always the tricky part.
He's not going to get into the pro bowl or anything quite so exalted this season, but that doesn't mean he isn't getting noticed:
Warford's play has been noticed, even if it isn't reflected in Pro Bowl voting, where he is not among the top 10 guards. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden singled him out over the weekend as one of the more noticeable additions to the Lions, calling him an "eye-opener" as a rookie.
And although it is unlikely he will win the NFL's offensive rookie of the year award -- no offensive lineman has ever won the award -- he probably should be in the conversation for it.
Considering where he came from, and how little notice he got overall in college, that's a remarkable place to be, even if the conversation about his ROY chances are likely to be short and infrequent. Then again, you never know — I think the NFL appreciates linemen a little bit more than colleges do. I know NFL quarterbacks appreciate linemen like Warford, and so does the front office.
From a 2-10 team to a first-year starter in the NFL. Not bad, Larry. Not bad at all.