Chance Warmack is the clear-cut best offensive guard in the 2013 NFL Draft and the best guard to come into the league in years, but is he worth using a top 10 pick on? That is the question general managers are asking themselves, not because Warmack isn't outstanding, but because there are questions about how valuable a guard can possibly be, even one as tremendous as Warmack.
No matter how good a guard is, he is still an interior lineman who isn't tasked with protecting the quarterback from the league's most feared pass-rushers and is at a position where it is much easier to find quality talents later in the draft. It is also a position that has been devalued by the modern pass-heavy NFL, where a great run-clocking guard just doesn't get as many opportunities to do what he does best.
But despite concerns about the changing NFL marginalizing a position that was marginalized to begin with, Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew sees value in guards, or at least drafting guards. Thank the new CBA for that.
"I think the perspective on that may have changed a little bit over the past few years with the new CBA where those numbers aren’t as big as they were before," Mayhew told reporters at the combine. "But you always look at sort of impact positions and guys that are impacting the game, and typically guards aren’t really viewed in that way. But I think that’s a lot more likely in this day and age then it was five or six years ago."
The Lions have the No. 5 pick in the draft and should have a chance to draft Warmack, although they probably won't. All indications are that Detroit is targeting a pass-rusher so a cynic might say that Mayhew is just pumping up Warmack so he can select the pass-rusher of his choice at No. 5. That may very well be true, but Mayhew still makes a good point.
The money being paid out to draftees isn't nearly as absurd as it was before the new CBA so while a team still has to use a high pick on a position that isn't especially valuable, they aren't committing a huge sum of money to the position as well. That at least simplifies the debate and makes it simply a matter of the value of guards.
So is Warmack worth a top 10 pick? He's still a guard so most general managers and pundits will tell you no, but at least the money isn't the consideration it once was.