He was once considered the best player in the draft and the best offensive guard since Steve Hutchinson. Now there’s doubt as to whether Chance Warmack is either of those.
Warmack, the stud left guard of the championship-winning Alabama Crimson Tide, has seen his stock discussed a tremendous amount since the college football season ended. But in reality, it hasn’t moved much. He’s still viewed as a lock for the first round and a top 15 selection overall. And contrary to the criticism, he’s still one of the best players in the draft, and a damn fine player at his position.
He’s overwhelmingly powerful and is rarely knocked back at the point of attack because he can sit in his stance with proper flexibility and footwork. He moves well enough to get to the second level and block linebackers as well as pull across a formation and perform a trap block. He’s not going to be confused for North Carolina’s Johnathan Cooper as a zone-blocking guard because he doesn’t have Cooper’s feet. But Cooper also doesn’t have the same consistent power that Warmack possesses.
It’s why he’s the best player at his position, and it’s also why many are nitpicking to find a weakness in his game. This process happens every year to the top draft prospects. They are good enough or excellent in all areas of the game, so critics surf through endless amounts of games to find the one time a quarterback made a bad decision or an offensive lineman was beaten for a sack. It happens to the best, but an evaluator’s red pen is always out with the cap off.
The blue pen, however, should also be out to mark the positives of a player. It’s about what Warmack can do for a team, not what he can’t. He can block in a phone booth, or pull on an old school, smash-mouth run play like he did against LSU.
It’s first-and-10. The Crimson Tide have the ball and 21 personnel on the field. Running back T.J. Yeldon is in the backfield, standing erect as he awaits the handoff that ultimately follows a track behind Warmack.
Warmack is going to pull on this play from left to right, illustrating that he can move his weight well enough to quiet critics and blow up the facemask of a supposed run-stuffing linebacker.
Once Warmack gets off the line of scrimmage, there’s little stopping him. No wasted movement and no flipping of the hips to get going in the right direction. He opens his right leg up, immediately turns to his right and attacks laterally with a hefty forward lean.
As he pulls across the face of the line of scrimmage, Warmack takes a proper angle that isn’t too tight or too wide, and he smashes into an LSU inside linebacker. He knocks him back, bending his knees and lowering his pad level with ease, and an an alley is created for Yeldon to run through.
The pull play is one that may convince an NFL scout or general manager that Warmack is a complete prospect. One that can do a little bit of everything, even if he’s not great at all of them.
That helped Stanford’s David DeCastro get selected No. 24 overall in 2012 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. DeCastro was viewed as one of the better offensive guards to come out in recent years, but Warmack is better. Warmack’s not quite the athlete that DeCastro is, but he’s good enough and he’s stronger, which should help him realize his projected top 15 selection despite playing a position that’s historically been undervalued.
If general managers hope to slow down new age defensive ends who have turned into defensive tackles stunting in sub-packages, they would be wise to select the Crimson Tide guard who models his game after arguably the greatest left guard to ever play on the gridiron, Larry Allen.
Like Allen, Warmack has the strength and length to potentially dominate at his position for the next decade, or at least the length of his rookie contract.