Rookie guard Larry Warford adjusting to the NFL

Posted Jun 7, 2013

In college, Warford was bigger and stronger than most of the players who lined up across from him; in the NFL, that's not always going to be the case

Larry Warford was one of the best interior offensive linemen in the preeminent college football conference (Southeastern Conference) over the last three seasons.
Larry WarfordG Larry Warford (Photo: T. Altman/

The Lions' third-round draft pick neutralized some of the best defensive tackles in the college game at his time in Kentucky, including 2012 first-round picks Sheldon Richardson of Missouri and Florida's Sharrif Floyd.

Warford is finding out rather quickly, though, the NFL is a whole different kind of game.

"It's a lot faster and there's a lot more install compared to my freshman year in college," Warford said of his adjustment to the NFL through the offseason training program. "There's so much more you have to learn; so many little intricacies I have to understand.

"We have a great group of guys helping me keep up and helping all us rookies, really."

In college, Warford was bigger (6-4, 333) and stronger than most of the players who lined up across the football from him. Watch a Warford highlight tape from college and time-after-time he can be seen mauling his opponent.

That's not always going to be the case in the NFL.

"It's more of a thinking man's game than anything," Lions veteran guard Rob Sims said of the NFL. "Strength and all that stuff, throw it out the window.

"When we play B.J. Raji (Packers), it doesn't matter how strong you are or how much you can lift -- he can lift just as much. It's about thinking through the game and making it through an entire game."

Sims' message hasn't fallen on deaf ears when it comes to Warford.

A lot of times, rookies will talk about the speed of the game at this level as being their biggest adjustment. Warford says learning the scheme and learning his teammates has been his.

"One of the big things I've been focusing on the last few weeks is understanding how to block with a new group of guys," he said. "I played with my center Matt Smith (at Kentucky) for three years. We got a real good feel for each other.

"I'm just trying to fit in with these guys and trying to learn who's going to take what and if I can count on him to be behind me or whatever. Is he going to block someone else because he thinks it's more important?"

That's the biggest adjustment for any rookie offensive lineman, especially those players in the interior. Warford is a big, strong man and has good athleticism for his size. The physical aspects are there.

He'll be able to display his physical repertoire when the pads come on in August and that part of his game will be impressive.

Whether or not he's on the field in September will depend more on some of the intangible parts of playing guard in the NFL that he still needs to pick up.