The Detroit Lions have looked to the Southeastern Conference before to build a strong and talented offensive line for Matthew Stafford and the entire offense. 2014 third-round pick, Travis Swanson (Arkansas) will likely be starting at center when the season begins. While 2013 third-round pick, Larry Warford (Kentucky) anchors the line at right guard. After regressing as a unit last season, the Lions would be wise to draft another quality offensive lineman, and Duke’s Laken Tomlinson could fit the bill this year.
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Notable Combine Measurables
Weight: 323 pounds
40-yd Dash: 5.33 seconds
20-yd Shuttle: 4.87 seconds
3-Cone Drill: 8.17 seconds
Vertical Jump: 31.5”
Broad Jump: 8’7”
Bench Press: 225 pounds, 25 times
Traits And Projected Round
Tomlinson is a very powerful blocker. His film shows an explosion and physicality to his game that any NFL team would admire. During his collegiate career at Duke, Tomlinson proved durable (starting in 52 games over four years), as well as accomplished (a three-time, first team, All-ACC selection). He has the frame and mentality to succeed at the NFL level. He played exclusively at right guard, but should be able to play left guard in NFL, if asked.
Currently Tomlinson is more accomplished as a run blocker. He has initial quickness, and pop (violent hands), but his pass-blocking could use improving. At times, Tomlinson appears a bit tight in the hips, and struggles to maintain extended arm length against quicker defensive linemen. Regardless, he exhibits high effort and high football IQ, and many of his weaknesses appear fixable. If the Lions really like Tomlinson, they will most likely have to pick him in the 2nd round. It’s possible, though unlikely, he will be available by the time they select in the 3rd round.
Why The Lions Could Laken Tomlinson
The Lions’ offense was offensive this past season. As a unit, they underperformed. Blame could be passed around. Joe Lombardi was in his first year as the offensive coordinator. Tight end Eric Ebron didn’t have the impact many were expecting. The running game was anemic. And though Matthew Stafford cut down on his turnovers, his yards passing and touchdown totals were also significantly below career highs.
Fair or not, much of the offense’s failure starts with their offensive line. With left guard Rob Sims hitting free agency, right tackle being a revolving door comprised of LaAdrian Waddle, Corey Hilliard, and Cornelius Lucas, and no one certain exactly where Riley Reiff will line up, the Lions would be wise to consider Laken Tomlinson. He is a powerful blocker, with scheme flexibility, and his upside and ability should greatly interest the Lions. Besides, who doesn’t want Larry Warford v.2.0 on their team?
Former Lion Comparison: Damien Woody
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