Nobody, and I mean nobody, is prettier to NFL coaches than those big, forgotten men on the lines. Offensive lines are what make offensive football teams. Yes, you have to have skilled athletes and great quarterbacks, but those are quite a bit more common than that great lineman.
Larry Warford is such a lineman, and for the last 20 years, not one single player from the offensive line at Kentucky has excelled to the point of an NFL Draft pick. Larry is projected to go somewhere in the second or third round. That would be something for Kentucky football fans to really crow about.
Why NFL Teams Want Larry
Larry is kind of a classic "big ugly" in appearance, but under the surface, there is much more there than just a big, strong body. For a good bit of his high school career, Larry was a basketball player, with the attendant focus on skills like good footwork, good hands, and good technique. He changed sports after moving from California to Kentucky, where he attended Madison Central High.
Larry is quick-footed for a man his size, and that quickness, along with a thick, heavy body, is the biggest reason why NFL teams will want him. He can push you off the line by getting into your body, he can frustrate your rush by using his upper body strength and reset his big body in the path of the defensive lineman with his quickness.
Here are some highlights pointing out what makes Larry so great:
Lots of linemen have big bodies like Larry. Lots of them are strong and thick in the upper and lower body, like Larry. What Larry has that they don’t have is superior quickness of foot that allows him to get around on trap blocks, cut down linebackers in the hole, and get downfield to make blocks.
Why Larry Might Not Be All That Pretty To NFL Teams
Mainly, it seems to be more of a development issue than anything else. He’s quick of foot for his size, but not explosive. He can occasionally struggle with guys going low on him. But these are things the probably can be cured simply by focusing on them, and in the NFL, Larry will get much more attention on the little details that make a lineman great. Technique is really his weakness now, but a lot of that will need to be relearned in the League, anyway.
Personal Stuff About Larry
Larry was born in San Diego, California and moved to Richmond, Kentucky his junior year in high school after his father retired from the U.S. Navy. Larry attended Madison Central. He was reckoned a 3-star by Rivals.com, listed the #30 offensive guard in his class.
Larry’s Vital Statistics
6’3", 332# of bigness
Runs the 40 in 5.56, broad jump 8 feet, 22.5 vertical (pushing up 332# (!)), 28 reps on the bench (225#)
Played 47 total games at Kentucky, 37 straight as a starter
2-year all-state at Madison Central, first team his senior year and second team his junior year
SEC All-Freshman team in 2009
Second team All-SEC in 2010 (Sophomore)
Second Team All-SEC (Junior) Was on Outland Trophy watch list
First Team All-SEC (ESPN.com, CBS Sports.com), Second Team All-SEC (coaches, AP, CollegeSportsMadness.com), Third Team All-American (Phil Steele, Associated Press)
Care And Feeding
Larry needs to manage his weight. His thickness is an asset, but he is just about maxed out now before his weight will affect his ability to bend at the knees.
Larry needs a good mentor to show him the NFL ropes, and to keep improving his feet, which are the real weapons he brings into battle. His technique is still unrefined, and he needs to be brought along consistently. Larry is competitive and has an edge to his game, so he does need to see some time as soon as possible. His rating suggests that he is ready to start right away.
For Larry, the main thing is to learn his position in the NFL, and refine his game. He has the physical skills to be a starting guard immediately, and his ceiling is very high. He is figured by the NFL analysts to go #69 in the third round to the Arizona Cardinals, but he could wind up higher. SB Nation has him going #33 overall, which would be the first pick in the second round.
Larry is an intelligent, articulate man who will accept coaching and become a professional athlete at the highest level. Any team who takes him will improve themselves, and it will be nice to see Kentucky finally end the long drought for drafted offensive linemen with this great young man. You can learn a lot about him from his SEC Media Days appearance in 2012:
So, NFL teams, this is your next offensive guard, if you're smart. He has the potential to be a durable, long-time starter and even a Pro Bowler. Come get him while he's hot -- and available, because he won't be available for long.