All-Universe offensive guard Chance Warmack came to Tuscaloosa and, as a true freshman, quickly earned playing time on a deep and talented team filled with future NFL players. He played five games that season, and was elevated to a starting role the following year, starting all 13 games at left guard, the same spot where he again lined up every week in the team's 2011 championship run. Warmack earned second-team All-SEC acknowledgement from conference coaches in 2011 and consensus All-American and All-SEC honors during Alabama's run to a second national title in 2012, when he again started every game (he finished his storied career with 40 starts).
To put it plainly: the dude is a beast. Warmack spent his collegiate career as a the irresistible force, carving our wide swaths for a bevy of first-round Crimson Tide ballcarriers. He boasts a strong punch to shock oncoming defenders and consistently extends his arms to keep them at bay in pass protection. He has incredible power in his lower half, anchoring against bull rushes and generating snap in the running game, rolling his hips through contact, and looking to pancake his man whenever possible. As might be expected by a Nick Saban-coached player, he is technically sound.
The quality of Warmack's game is evident on the tape. Here he is dominating against some of the best players in the county: SEC rivals Georgia and LSU and in the National Championship Game versus Notre Dame.
But don;t take may word for it; check out what our perspicacious panel of pigskin profilers has to say about the "Wardaddy":
ESPN/ Scouts, Inc. (Gary Horton): top-rated OG; 8th overall
Pass Protection: Wide-body OG with above average lateral agility and overall athleticism for the position. He's a natural knee bender with good short-area quickness and balance. Light on his feet. Explosive punch. Occasionally can get knocked back by powerful bull rusher and will let pads get too high. But more often than not, shows ability to re-sink hips and regain balance/leverage. Very good awareness and consistently picks up twists, stunts, blitzes and delayed blitzes. Allowed just 3.5 sacks in 315 pass attempts as a senior.
Run Blocking: Consistently does a good job with his first step to get quality initial positioning. Tough, thick and smart run blocker. Has a strong lower body and a powerful upper body. Can jar defender initially but also has the leg drive and tenacity to sustain and finish. Effective in man and zone blocking schemes. Shows good mobility and excellent awareness and balance on pulls. Impressive initial quickness and mobility when getting out on pulls. Takes solid angles. Good balance in space. Consistently shows ability to hit moving target on second level. In rare case of failing to execute assignment, it almost always is a result of him getting lazy with his technique.
Awareness: Penalized just two times out of 805 snaps played during senior season. Very good football intelligence. Knows opponents' tendencies. Film work transfers to the field. Keeps head on a swivel in pass pro. Very good awareness against stunts, twists and blitzes. Does a nice job of locating assignments on pulls and second-level blocks.
Toughness: Workhorse. Gives good-to-great effort on all but a few plays per tape studied, and he never just goes through the motions. Keeps chopping away at defenders play after play. Fights hard to regain leverage if he loses it initially. Not satisfied until he has fully executed assignment and frequently finishes with defender on the ground. If he fails to execute assignment on one play, he makes defender pay the next snap. Takes pride in his craft.
Intangibles: Consistent, reliable player throughout career. Took care of his business in the classroom and has no off-the-field issues to our knowledge. Enrolled early at UA (January of 2009). Unanimous first team All-American in 2012
CBSSports.com (Rob Rang): top-rated OG; 2nd overall
Strengths: Warmack is considerably lighter on his feet than one would expect given his stout frame, and is adept at meeting and eliminating linebackers at the second level. In pass protection, Warmack does a nice job of supplying an initial punch and grasping hold of his opponent, showing good lateral agility to slide as well as the anchor to handle powerful bull-rushers. Warmack is equally effective when asked to drive defensive tackles off the ball or beat linebackers to the action at the second level.
Weaknesses: Due to his lack of height, Warmack may lack the position versatility of his more recognizable linemates Barrett Jones and D.J. Fluker, but he is further along in his development than Fluker and, frankly, makes more eye-popping blocks than Jones. Size means that he'll be relegated strictly to interior blocking in the NFL.
Compares to: Will Shields, OG, Kansas City Chiefs -- Let's be clear, no incoming rookie truly deserves comparison to a first ballot Hall of Famer, but Warmack is a rare prospect. While perhaps a tad shorter than ideal, Warmack uses his natural leverage advantage to consistently get under the pads of his opponents, driving them off of the ball in the running game and anchoring in pass protection. His lateral agility and balance make him effective getting to and blocking at the second level and handling quicker pass rushers, as well. He has a long way to go before threatening Shields' record of 231 consecutive starts in the NFL, but proved durable in the SEC, starting every game the past three seasons.
Pro Football Weekly (Nolan Nawrocki): top-rated OG; 2nd overall
Positives: Outstanding arm length. Very densely built with natural power in his body and outstanding core strength. Plays big in a big man's game and strikes with authority. Very heavy-handed to control, steer and dominate. Moves defenders off the ball in the run game. Excellent finisher who can take out his man on pulls and traps. Plays faster than his timed speed and erases linebackers on the second level. Putstanding hip roll - loose-hipped for a big man. Immovable anchor strength in pass protection. Durable, three-year starter. Highly competitive. Has a passion for the game.
Negatives: Ordinary timed speed - had one of the slower 40 times among O-linemen at the Combine. Quick stunts and games can challenge him. Late to see delayed blitzes. Could require some time to acclimate to an NFL playbook and need some help from veterans on each side of him. Questionable stamina - has worn down late in games because of some conditioning issues. Excessively sweats and has needed IVs at times to control condition.
Summary: One of the best guards to enter the NFL since John Hannah, Warmack is capable of dominating in the run game and fortifying the pocket in pass protection. He is a physical, difference-making power blocker. An intimidating heavyweight with power, strength and explosion to become a perennial Pro Bowl performer.
Ourlads (Dan Shonka): top-rated OG; 8th overall
Three-year starter who is powerful and explosive in his upper and lower body. Plays with a stout base and a boxer's punch. Good arm length. A knee bender with long arms, thick body, and good balance. Stays on his feet when pulling. Strong on down blocks. Plays square and works to keep his hands inside the frame. Takes good angles to seal linebackers on the second level. Warmack is the best talent on a talented offensive line. Cuts downfield as needed. Generally plays on his feet. Physical as the post player or driver on a double team. Gets position quickly to wall off a defender's path to the ball. Built like a Coke machine with arms. He lowers his butt and can explode and leverage his blocking targets. Good flexibility from his ankles to his knees to his hips. Light on his feet with good weight transfer and change of direction. Can adjust in space to pick up blitzing linebackers. Can stone a bull rush or slide shuffle an inside speed rusher. Not a top level workout guy ranking 35th out of 49 linemen who worked out at the Combine. Ran a 5.56/ 40 and a slow 1.91/ 10 yard time. Who knows what he bench presses? A two position only player. But the tale of the tape says he's a first year starter with the talent to contribute early and provide impact play.
Our panel is unanimous in naming Warmack the best guard in the draft, and they slot him between picks two and eight. Although this is a peculiar draft in that there aren't any blue-chip offensive skill position players, its top two guards rank as highly, together, as any in memory - and Warmack is the better of the two. He's tough, durable and dominating at the point of attack, with surprising agility and mobility for a man with his size and girth. Obviously, I have no hesitation slotting him in the first round in my 2013 "little board."
The question is: will he fall to the Cowboys? The quality of this draft says he won't, but history suggests that he might - and the Cowboys certainly think there must be a chance, or they wouldn't have invited him to Valley Ranch. Although I think Johnathan Cooper is a better fit for the offensive system the Cowboys would like to run, Warmack is a once-in-a-generation talent, the kind of guy only foolish teams pass up because of system fit.
His college coach, Nick Saban, who spent plenty of time in the pro game and can recognize an NFL player, points out that "people that have [Warmack's] kind of balance and body control and the kind of athleticism that he has at his size are rare commodities. Everybody knows that those guys play 12, 14, 15 years. I think Chance has a chance to have that kind of career.'' If the Cowboys draft him, they won;t have to worry about one of their guard positions for at least a decade. Because of this, if Warmack proves to be the pick at 18, Ol' Rabble will be breaking open the bubbly.
Next up: North Carolina OG Johnathan Cooper