OG Laken Tomlinson (Duke) - Round 1, Pick No. 28
After moving down five spots in the first round, the Detroit Lions opted to draft Duke offensive guard Laken Tomlinson. A lot of people expected the Lions go take an offensive lineman in the first round, but nobody really saw them going with Tomlinson. Even so, Tomlinson makes a lot of sense considering the Lions didn't have a single left guard on their roster going into the draft.
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 323 pounds
2011: 12 starts (RG)
2012: 13 starts (RG)
2013: 14 starts (RG)
2014: 13 starts (RG)
Tomlinson, who is originally from Jamaica, graduated from Duke with degrees in evolutionary anthropology and psychology, and he aspires to be a neurosurgeon after his playing days are over.
What the experts are saying
Detroit's front office has made it a point to go after high-character guys. They've focused on guys who are intelligent, mature and those who have come from humble beginnings. Laken Tomlinson is the epitome of whom the Lions are looking for to continue to improve the culture of the locker room.
I saw some flaws in Tomlinson's game, but he is still a very good player. He also has the kind of on-field mindset I covet. You can never have too many mean, nasty, powerful offensive linemen, especially when those guys are also blessed athletically.
Tomlinson has treated defenders like a squat rep at times, but getting defenders centered and jacked will be tougher in the NFL. His lack of athleticism is a major concern and will cause problems winning initial engagements as defenders will get into him first. What Tomlinson lacks in second-level ability he makes up for in straight-ahead power and an ability to stalemate power players. His success in the NFL could be predicated on scheme and landing spot.
STRENGTHS: NFL body type with thick hips and massive upper body. Rolls his hips to generate pop and move bodies at the point of attack, using his lower body strength to drive block in the run game. Stout frame, not an easy player to put on his heels and rarely caught moving in reverse. Adequate set up quickness with aggressive hands off the snap. Uses his eyes well to pick up twists and extra rushers, clearly displaying a high football IQ. Conscious effort to keep his knees bent and pad level low, something that appears to come natural to him. Physically and mentally tough and gives consistently high effort from snap-to-snap. Senior captain and four-year starter at right guard and very reliable. High character human being who won't take shortcuts and has a proven work ethic.
WEAKNESSES: Clunky in a crowd with tight hips. Limited mobility and range, struggling with consistency at the second level and not doing much outside of a few feet at the line of scrimmage. Stops his feet too often and ends up falling off blocks and on the ground, struggling to sustain with his limited arm length, especially in space. Tardy mirror skills and too often caught off balance and hunched at the waist and needs to be more of a consistent knee bender. Struggles to counter interior rush moves and needs to better anticipate pressures pre-snap. All of his experience has come at right guard with questionable versatility to line up at other positions on the line.
What he brings: He's not a great athlete but is the best of this year's guard class, and he's a very powerful run-blocker with road-grader capabilities.
Tomlinson was our top true guard heading into the draft. He excels as a run blocker and consistently wins in one-on-one situations at the line of scrimmage. He had the second-highest run block grade against Power 5 opponents, and as a pass blocker, he was the top guard in the draft class with a 99.4 Pass Blocking Efficiency, allowing no sacks, no hits, and just four hurries. To top it off, the Lions picked up two fifth-round picks and Manny Ramirez in a trade to move back five spots, and still were able to draft the player they were targeting.
(via Draft Breakdown)
Outlook for 2015
Tomlinson should be a Day 1 starter at left guard. He could face some competition from the recently acquired Manny Ramirez, but the Lions didn't draft Tomlinson in the first round for him to sit on the bench. He's got enough talent to be a starter as a rookie, and the Lions have a big-time need for improved play at the left guard position.