The 2015 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and the Detroit Lions have some needs this year. I waited as long as possible to start profiling potential Detroit targets due to free agency. Unfortunately, the Lions did not sign anyone of note. That is not to say the signing of Tyrunn Walker was a bad one. It is just that he is not the type of player that fans expected going into free agency. With that being said, I want to kick off the 2015 NFL Draft profiles by highlighting my favorite player in the draft this year.
During the Senior Bowl, Laken Tomlinson made his presence known. He was expected to be a mid-round pick before the Senior Bowl week started. He was the second best guard prospect on his team. Once practices started though, Tomlinson excelled. He routinely make one of this year’s top defensive tackle prospects in Danny Shelton quit on his drills due to Tomlinson’s stout blocking. He was praised by the coaches, and players raved about how he was the toughest offensive lineman they faced. His stock soared and likely put him out of Detroit’s reach. He is currently rated at the number 2 guard prospect by cbssports.com and is slated to be a second round pick. It is possible that a team like New England could snag him at the end of the first round if they rate him high enough.
Tomlinson’s combine numbers were not all that great, but they were comparable to Larry Warford, who Tomlinson admitted to modelling his game after. Warford had 3 more bench reps than Tomlinson, but in most of the other areas Tomlinson was better. Tomlinson’s combine numbers are listed below:
|40 Yard Dash
||3 Cone Drill
||20 Yard Shuttle
Laken Tomlinson is build perfect to play right guard. He is thick, solid and powerful in his lower body. He has ideal size at 6’3 323lbs and had a very solid career at Duke. Tomlinson’s a high character guy, which was demonstrated by traveling to a third world country to dig water wells for the people there who need it most. His desire to be a doctor also shows his high intelligence. Both of those are qualities that Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell loves in a player.
His weaknesses as a player are his inconsistent footwork in the run game. He lacks the desired athleticism of a guard, and he struggles in the second level. Some of his strengths though are that he did not allow a sack in his last two seasons at Duke. He plays with low pad level and generates good push as an inline blocker.
With all of that being said, the big question is, how does he fit with the Lions? Quite simply, the Detroit Lions need a guard. They may or may not re-sign Rob Sims. They have looked at Justin Blalock but did not move on him. The Lions are desperate for a run game, and have a need to get better at pass blocking. Tomlinson’s ability to pass protect by not allowing a sack in two years makes him a plus. His speciality as a run blocker makes him a desirable prospect for a team who struggles to run the ball. The concern is that he is a right guard and the Lions need a left guard. I believe that Tomlinson could switch to left guard successfully if the Lions are really seeking a better run game. If not, then they could easily move Larry Warford to left guard and plug Tomlinson in at right guard.
All in all, Laken Tomlinson is a very good guard that could be an option for the Lions if they choose to upgrade their guard position in this season’s draft.