As the 2013 NFL Draft draws near, many pundits and mock drafts have the Titans filling one of their remaining needs at the guard position. The top two candidates for this are obviously Chance Warmack out of Alabama and Jonathan Cooper out of North Carolina. A guard hasn’t been taken in the top 20 of the draft since Steve Hutchinson was taken 17th overall. Even David DeCastro who was a “guaranteed” 10 year starter fell t0 24th last year in the draft.
If the Titans are going to use the 10th pick overall in the draft to unprecedentedly pick up a guard, then we would like to know a little more about the two guards on the tip of everyone’s tongue this year. So let’s get at it:
No pun intended, but Warmack’s strength is one of his strengths. He has incredible lower body drive and can routinely stand up to blitzes and bull rushes by simply digging in. He holds up well in the pas rush and can use his arms to keep defenders at bay. Delivers a good initial punch to pass rushers.
Most importantly Warmack has an attitude. He brawls and mauls in the scrum. Think David Stewart at guard. The two of these guys playing next to each other would be devastating to the defensive line. Warmack looks to destroy his opponent on every running down, not just block out a lane.
SEC Competition: Without getting on an SEC soap box, this still has to count as one of Warmack’s strengths. Not only has played at a high level, but he did so against the top competition in college football. The defensive linemen in the SEC are by far and large the biggest, baddest and the strongest. Warmack has already been forged by fire so to speak.
On the down side, Waramack can have the habit of locking out his legs when in pass protection and “standing up”. Due to this he can lose leverage after engagement.
Warmack was not used as a pulling guard in Alabama’s zone blocking scheme. He has the ability and the speed to get down the field, but then has a tough time engaging other players in space.
Cooper’s size and weight are almost identical to that of Warmack’s. He also put up a combine best 35 reps in the bench press.
While Cooper’s strength is a bonus, it’s his athleticism that sets him apart. His footwork and agility are off amazing for someone of his size. He can pull left and right and get up field to the second tier of defenders with ease. Once up field he engages well in space and usually manhandles any one he comes in contact with.
While his run blocking is stellar, his pass blocking is also good. He has wonderful hand technique and uses his skill and strength combination handle pass rushers. Cooper’s athleticism and speed enable him to drop and slide with the best speed rushers and identifies stunts readily.
There really is no weakness to Cooper’s game. The competition he’s faced in college is a step below Warmacks which may factor into his draft stock. He plays hard and physical as well, but doesn’t seem to have quite the same “nasty” streak that Warmack does.
Who’s Best For The Titans?
Either one of these players would be a solid get for the Titans to secure the right guard spot on the line. If the Titans were to draft a guard at 10 (or slide back a bit and pick one up) which one would be the better fit?
The addition of Shonn Greene and Delanie Walker may lend credence to the idea that the Titans are going to return to the power running game and a ball control offense. Handing the ball to Greene behind Warmack and Stewart on the right side should produce 3-4 yards every time. Warmack’s nastiness and plowing run blocking style would do wonders for a sputtering rushing attack.
Munchak may rather have Cooper though, as he is more versatile. Depending on what Dowell Loggains wants to do with the offensive scheme, Cooper may prove the better guard. When the Titans had Mawae, the would pull guards and the center and run a lot of traps and counter traps. Get the defense moving one direction and let CJ make his move. They had a lot of success with this running style and may want to return to a more athletic line, in which Cooper would be the better fit.
I’ve said all along that I don’t see Munchak spending a 10th overall selection on either of these guys. But IF they did, which do you think the Titans should go for?
You can find me on Twitter @gunnelsj