Draft Grades for Top 10 by Position - Guards

By Lance Zierlein
March 21, 2013

In his Drafting the Top 10 by Position Series, Lance Zierlein examines guards.

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Guard Rankings

Guard School Round
Jonathan Cooper North Carolina 1st
Chance Warmack Alabama 1st
Larry Warford Kentucky 2nd
Justin Pugh Syracuse 2nd
JC Tretter Cornell 3rd/4th
Brian Winters Kent St. 4th
Hugh Thornton Illinois 4th
David Quessenbury San Jose St. 4th/5th
Garrett Gilkey Chadron St. 5th
Alvin Bailey Arkansas 5th

* Might be able to play center

Analysis

What are you looking for at guard?  Do you want foot quickness and a guard who can pull or get to the second level and get the MIKE LB blocked?  If so, you want Jonathan Cooper.  Cooper played at about 20 pounds lighter than his natural weight and that increased weight might help him add a little more power to his game.  Despite hitting 35 reps at the combine, Cooper doesn't show that kind of power on the field.  Cooper has elite feet for the position.  I mean that.  ELITE.

If you are looking for a power player at guard to help move guys off the line of scrimmage then Chance Warmack is going to be your guy.  Warmack plays with a good pad level and has the type of thick trunk you would expect out of a power guard.  Warmack has fairly decent feet for a man his size, but I'm just not buying into some of the overall ratings I'm seeing on Warmack.

I'm all for getting guys blocked, but I certainly don't see him as a dynamic, game-changing guard.  He's good, but I still think his true draft value isn't until the mid 1st round or beyond.

Larry Warford is notch below Warmack, but certainly not a "poor man's" version of the big man from Bama. I like the power in his hands and the way that he competes at a high level against SEC defensive linemen.  In pass protection, Warford shoots his hands out like a boxer flicking a stiff jab. Warford has power, but he's also technically sound which helps him to make up for his average movement skills. I see Warford as a second-round pick who comes in and starts right away for a team.

Justin Pugh is a tough guy.  He played tackle in college, but he won't be playing tackle in the pros with those short arms.  Besides that, I think he's physically overmatched to be a tackle.  However, his brand of grit and toughness will serve him well as a guard.  Pugh is a smart, hard playing guy who teams can depend on, but I would be careful about overdrafting him.

JC Tretter played against a lower level of competition at Cornell, but I like his physical tools and his ability to move.  Tretter has decent strength and there is no question that his quickness will put him on the radar of all the zone schemes out there.  I think he might be able to play center or guard, but we'll see.

Brian Winters is a guard who I really like from a disposition standpoint, but as we saw at the Senior Bowl practices, he's probably only a left guard.  If that is the case... if he's locked into a single guard spot, his draft stock will be hurt by it.  Winters is tough and has a way of getting guys blocked, but he's not a plus athlete and his potential lack of position flexibility hurts.

Hugh Thornton looked out of place at times as a tackle, but he makes much more sense as a guard.  His technique and hand placement can get a little sloppy, but he's got a shot on the next level.  David Quessenberry has many of the tools needed to be a potential starter in the NFL, but the one area where he clearly lacks is core strength.  Quessenberry gets knocked off his spot far too often for my tastes and I think it could be a big problem for him in the NFL.

Garrett Gilkey is an interesting prospect.  At 6'6 / 316, he has tackle size and played the position in college, but most people around the league think he's a guard.  I really liked watching him pull and hit guys in open space at the combine.  Gilkey showed off his athleticism at the combine.  I think Gilkey could be a good value pick for a team looking for a guard who can pull and get out in open areas.  Alvin Bailey, on the other hand, is not a great athlete, but he was solid as a starter at Arkansas against SEC competition and worthy of a look later in the draft.

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