Finding an offensive guard in free agency, when you have roughly nine of your own free agents that you're trying to re-sign, isn't an easy option. Making things even more difficult for the Chicago Bears is the uncertain status of right guard Lance Louis, a free agent who has already visited with the Miami Dolphins. Losing Louis means the Bears this year would not return either of their opening-day starting guards from 2012.
There has been talk of moving Gabe Carimi to guard, which is questionable given Carimi's limited skill set as a guard. Certainly Carimi is a good run blocker within the 12-inch by 12-inch area, but he showed no ability getting to the second level or pulling out in space. So the Bears will need to add at least one starting guard, plus find adequate depth at the position.
An SEC player the team could target in the second round is Kentucky's Larry Warford. Warford was one of the standouts during Senior Bowl week and is surely on the radar of Bears GM Phil Emery and his scouting department. Let's break down the film of Warford.
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Arms: 33 3/8 inches
Hands: 9 1/2 inches
Combined40-yard dash: 5.58 seconds (slowest time amongst offensive linemen)
Bench Press: 28
Vertical Jump: 22.5
Broad Jump: 8-0
3-cone drill: 7.78
20-yard shuttle: 5.1
An absolutely massive man from head to toe, Warford is thick and stout throughout his frame. He's built like a Coke machine and is just about as agile. He possesses a very powerful build and can really clear the path in the run game. If he gets his hands on the defender, it's over, because Warford's girth won't allow him to get moved back in his stance. He shows some agility and nimbleness, as well as the ability to operate in space, but he's primarily a straight-ahead pile-driving lineman.
When most fans think of guards in the NFL, they likely envision a player like Warford, whose lower body resembles an oak tree. He generates a lot of power from his waist down to his massive thighs and will absolutely drive people out of the hole.
Warford is similar to Alabama guard Chance Warmack in terms of overall power and ability, yet Warmack is slightly more athletic and nimble on his feet. In truth, they are nearly mirror images of each other.
Warford is a big powerful man but he's not explosive nor particularly athletic. He is a lumbering mass of bulk that could have trouble with the speed and quickness of many NFL defensive tackles. The former Wildcat is a one-dimensional player whose lack of quickness really limits his ability in the run game and could cause problems against explosive under tackles.
Too often Warford relies on his brute strength to win at the point of attack, throwing technique to the wayside. He ran one of the slowest 40-yard dash times at the NFL combine, and while it will likely be the last time in his career that he runs that far, his lack of overall speed was evident, which could hurt him at the second level in the NFL. Given his overall physical build, he could stand to lose some weight to improve his agility as an NFL offensive lineman.
Warford can road grade and would provide a large – figuratively and literally – upgrade on the interior of Chicago's offensive line. Yet he'll struggle in the outside zone runs and any time he's asked to block in space.
That said, his skill set as a mauler will make him very attractive to the Bears. If the club selects a linebacker in the first round, they will very likely be targeting Warford when it's their turn to pick in the second with the 50th overall selection.
Brett Solesky has worked in TV, newspapers and, for the last seven years, in radio. He also co-hosts the best Chicago Bears podcast on the Web, Bear Report Radio, which appears on BearReport.com and his blog MidwayIllustrated.com.