With the 2012 NFL season in the books, and the scouting combine in the rear-view, it's time to take a closer look at the 50 players we think will be the biggest difference-makers at the next level from this draft class. To that end, we're happy to continue this year's Shutdown 50 scouting reports (Hint: There may actually be more than 50). You can read last year's group here. The final 50 players were chosen and ranked based on game tape, combine and Pro Day results, overall positional value, and attributes and liabilities on and off the field.
#3: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
We continue this year's series with Alabama offensive guard Chance Warmack, the most consistent and dominant player in the NCAA's best power-based offense over the last three years. Like many Crimson Tide players over the last few seasons, Warmack was one of the most highly-ranked high-school recruits at his position in the nation, and he started to realize his potential right away by playing in five games as a true freshman. Over the next three seasons, he started 40 games, and went from second- to first-team All-SEC status over his final two years.
For those across the country who didn't understand Warmack's true greatness, the 2013 BCS Championship against Notre Dame was as decisive in a positive sense for Warmack as it was for Notre Dame linebacker Manto Te'o in a negative sense. Play after play, Warmack dominated at the point of attack and proved, more than anyone else on the field, that he was ready for prime time.
“I like being physical and explosive," Warmack said about his playing style when asked about is at the scouting combine. "I like that word a lot, explosive. I consider myself to be very explosive. In terms of where I want to be, I want to be the definition of that word.”
No problem there. Warmack has defined that term for his team over the last four years, and he's more than ready to do the same for the NFL franchise fortunate enough to benefit from his play.
Pros: Has the perfect build for a power guard -- compact frame with excellent musculature, big arms, and a wide lower body. Size 17 feet. Tremendously effective drive blocker who takes an aggressive approach to pushing defenders back, but doesn't get reckless when he attacks. Surprisingly light and quick feet allow him to turn and pull -- also has a decent kick-step in pass protection. Able to deal with speed rushers from the outside in combination concepts. Agile when playing zone and forcing one defender out of the play to deal with another upfield. Plays wide enough to get one hand out each to deal with two defenders at times.
Keeps his arms extended and his hands busy through the play -- has a really violent hand-strike that can rock people back. Plays from the legs up; understands how to use his power base, and once he gets his second foot down, you're generally done if you're on the other side of the argument. Able to extend inside blocks out to the edge -- Warmack loves to push people around once he's locked in, and he's rarely beaten in short areas. Has faced expert, multiple, and complex defenses, which gives him a real leg up when it comes to dealing with advanced line concepts at the next level.
Cons: Short arms may present a slight problem at the NFL pace -- Warmack isn't always able to deal with rushers coming from the side unless he gets right in front of them and blocks them out. Gets to the second level effectively off the snap, but tends to skate a bit and isn't as dominant in space as he is when he's in a phone booth. Needs to be with a team where power blocking is job one and line movement is a secondary concern. Has struggled with weight and conditioning at times, but hit the combine at 317 pounds after an extensive pre-draft conditioning program. Ran a slow 10-yard split at the combine, which matches up with a potentially problematic lack of second-level speed.
Conclusion: “First and foremost, I want to give it up to God for making me 6-foot-2," Warmack said at the combine. "I appreciate that because I can get under players very well with not a lot of difficulty. That’s just technique, technique from my coaches, coach Joe Pendry and coach Jeff Stoutland. They do a really good job just explaining how to take a step and exploding on your second step, and I’m taking that with me wherever I go.”
While the NFL is moving to a series of schemes in which the passing game is most important and it's key to protect on the move, there will always be a place for those players who possess a special gift for smacking their opponents in the mouth. Warmack is a skilled, intelligent, practiced, and experienced player, but the heart of his game is focused aggression, and he manifests that in the best possible ways on the field. Some experts believe that Warmack is the best player in this draft class, and while that's subjective, few players have mined the ore of their talents in the right direction. This is a potential multi-Pro Bowl guy from his first NFL season.
NFL Comparison: Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
More Shutdown 50:
#50: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State | #49: John Jenkins, DL, Georgia | #48: Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State | #47: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State | #46: Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse | #45: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State | #44: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU | #43: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson | #42: Kyle Long, OL, Oregon | #41: Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State | #40: Jonathan Cyprien, SS, Florida International | #39: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame | #38: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU | #37: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama | #36: Johnthan Banks, DB, Mississippi State | #35: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama | #34: Matt Barkley, QB, USC | #33: Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas | #32: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford | #31: Matt Elam, SS, Florida | #30: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas | #29: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M | #28: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State | #27: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia | #26: Robert Woods, WR, USC | #25: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU | #24: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama | #23: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington | #22: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal | #21: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame | #20: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas | #19: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri | #18: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State | #17: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU | #16: Datone Jones, DL, UCLA | #15: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston | #14: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee | #13: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU | #12: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia | #11: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia | #10: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia | #9: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama | #8: Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon | #7: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina | #6: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma | #5: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida | #4: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah