Laken Tomlinson is a quality offensive guard from Duke that was drafted 28th overall by the Detroit Lions. After redshirting for the Blue Devils during the 2010 season, he started every game of his playing career – at right guard. He was selected to the first-team AP All American and first team All-ACC in 2014. He developed his interest in football late, not starting to play football until he was a freshman in high school, so he appears to still have much maturing to do. He should gradually grow into his role in Detroit, so the future should be bright for him.
He had an average combine, but it was good enough to have him jump a few spots in the draft from his project second round position. He ran a 5.33 second dash, 8.17-second 3-cone drill, and 4.87 second shuttle. In addition, he completed 25 repetitions on the bench press, and had a vertical jump and broad jump. While none of the numbers were spectacular, the results do hold their own considering his size at 6’3” and . His speed results were slightly better at Pro Day, but he regressed in his jumping ability.
Graphic via mlive
Tomlinson does have many strengths at his position, the primary being consistency in terms of playing time. He has a full four years under his belt as a starter, and he has had no injuries to speak of. He understands the game, and is able to adapt to the ebbs and flows of the game. With his size, he has some power and can be dominating at the position once he matures at the pro level, and he shows a willingness to protect the quarterback at all costs, demonstrated by not allowing one single sack during his junior and senior years.
Many scouts have remarked that he has a lack of range, and he is not as athletic as other players at his position. With his size, he also struggles with balance issues, allowing defenders to disengage all too frequently. This has contributed to an inconsistency in his ability to hit targets, and his lack of speed and footwork skill make it difficult for him to be a run blacker. He will need to control his weight and regain some balance, helping his ability to block low, if he is going to contribute on a consistent level for the Lions. In the end, he will do well within Detroit’s scheme if he can shore up his blocking ability. This is a solid move for Detroit, but is also less than spectacular. Given their issues on the offensive line, however, it was expected by many.
Graphic via dnainfo