Detroit Lions pick their starting left guard in Laken Tomlinson at No. 28 in the 2015 NFL draft.
Prior to Thursday's first round, the Lions had, well, no one penciled in as their starter at left guard. They solved that problem in a big way—figuratively and literally—by selecting 330-pound Duke lineman Laken Tomlinson. The pick came at No. 28, five spots lower than Detroit's original slot. Denver moved up to No. 23 for Shane Ray, sending the 28th selection, a 2015 fifth-round pick, 2016 fifth-round pick and C/G Manny Ramirez to the Motor City. Ramirez projected as a potential Lions starter at guard for about 30 minutes, until Tomlinson's name was called.
Instead, Ramirez will offer depth behind a promising core of interior linemen: Tomlinson, 2014 center Travis Swanson and 2013 star guard Larry Warford. Tomlinson is an intelligent player (as his Duke education might indicate) and can dominate defenders at the line. He is not all that agile, but the Lions' system may not ask him to be. QB Matthew Stafford and Detroit's running backs should love this choice.
Strengths: Dominant at times as a run-blocker in a phone booth—when he's in his gap and moving forward, Tomlinson is tough to deal with. Shows the potential for good form in pass-blocking and is very effective in zone-blocking when he keeps everything in front of him. Effective ability to move his man aside when he gets his arms locked in. Tremendous raw strength. Intelligent individual who wants to be a doctor with he's done with football. Looked good at the Senior Bowl against bigger players. Many of his technique flaws seem coachable.
Weaknesses: Has the position's physical characteristics and plays with a wide base, but doesn't take advantage nearly enough. Very inconsistent with his hands and placement—tends to stab instead of locking on, and will lose defenders to either side. Athletic enough to pull effectively, but needs to hit targets across the field and at the second level more often. Not a multi-read blocker at this point—needs to learn to keep his head on a swivel and re-direct with authority. Will occasionally lose power battles even when he's the low man, which is more about technique than strength. Not as much of a finisher as you'd like—once in a while, you want to see a guy this big just destroy inferior competition.
Player comparison: Trai Turner
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