Lions take UK's Warford with 3rd pick of 3rd round in NFL Draft

jsmith3@herald-leader.comApril 26, 2013 

The waiting was the hardest part for Larry Warford, who admitted to fishing, playing bass guitar and driving around aimlessly the past few weeks to pass the time before the NFL Draft.

The wait — no matter how difficult and long — paid off for Kentucky's right guard when he was picked by the Detroit Lions early in the third round on Friday night as the 65th overall pick.

"Long wait well worth it," Warford tweeted shortly after being selected. "Crazy excited about my new family!!! LIONS!!!!!!!"

Warford became the first Kentucky offensive lineman to be drafted since 1993 (Todd Perry, Chuck Bradley) and the highest-drafted UK offensive lineman since 1988, when the Steelers grabbed future Hall of Famer Dermontti Dawson in the second round.

As a senior, Warford didn't allow a sack, grading at a 90.3 percent for the season with 48 knockdown blocks.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock was a Warford cheerleader after the guard's name was called.

"This is one of my favorite football players in the draft," Mayock said. "You want to talk about a big, square, stout son of a gun. ... Every tape I put on, he was dominant.

"This kid in the correct offense is absolutely a road grader. And a little more nimble than you'd think at 330 pounds."

There's a good chance Warford, a three-time second- team All-Southeastern Conference selection who started 37 straight games at right guard for the Cats, might be able to start right away because last season's right guard Stephen Peterman was released in February.

"He's made to play guard in the NFL," Lions Coach Jim Schwartz said of Warford. "He's a really thick, powerful guy. Good athlete for his size."

The UK senior told The Associated Press that he's tried to master his position during his time at Kentucky.

"I'm pretty aggressive," Warford said. "But more than that, I feel like my knowledge of my position and what I'm supposed to do is most important."

Warford will be part of an offense that includes Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush.

"I wasn't thinking about that until you said it. My heart leaped a little,'' Warford told The Oakland (Mich.) Press. "There's extra motivation. I was in high school when Reggie Bush was at USC. That guy was crazy good. ... All those guys, it's ridiculous. I'm extremely excited right now.''

This week, the 6-foot-3, 332-pound former standout at Madison Central said he had spoken with nearly every NFL team during the courting process and that he'd had private workouts for four of them and visited several others.

"I just have to make one of them like me," he said with a laugh.

Last season's 65th overall pick, Trumaine Johnson of the St. Louis Rams, signed a four-year deal worth $3,040,676 with a signing bonus of just under $700,000, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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