INDIANAPOLIS – When naming the No. 1 prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft, Mike Mayock knows he is in the minority with his selection.
The NFL Network Analyst is not falling in love with a typical skill position player or dominant left tackle.
Instead, Mayock has gone with the eyebrow-raising choice of a man in the trenches as his top prospect.
“Chance Warmack from Alabama is the best football player I saw on tape this year,” Mayock said of the Crimson Tide offensive guard.
“People will tell me I'm crazy that a guard can't go No. 1, but I think he's the best player in the draft.”
Warmack was a dominant force on the interior of Alabama’s offensive line, starting all 39 games at left guard over the past three seasons.
His position might not bring in the accolades and fame of players at other positions, but Warmack takes his craft very seriously and prides himself in being a consensus All-American.
“I like being physical and explosive. 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.”
It is the explosive nature of Warmack’s game that has him in rare talk of where guards are normally selected in the NFL Draft.
The last time a guard was taken in the top-10 of the NFL Draft, Warmack was just five years old.
Nearly every mock draft has Warmack ending that drought and although the 320-pound left guard appreciates that notion, he does not get caught up in the hype.
“It’s widely known that guards aren’t drafted that high,” Warmack said. “If that did happen (being chosen in the top-10), that would be an honor as a player that plays guard, but I’m not thinking about that right now.”
Part of the credit for Warmack garnering such praise goes to former Alabama offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
Following back-to-back national championships, Stoutland joined Chip Kelly’s new staff with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles hold the fourth pick in April’s draft and it is Stoutland’s tutelage that Warmack points to for much of his success.
“That’s my guy right there,” Warmack said of Stoutland. “We work hand-in-hand, he complements me and I complement him. (Stoutland’s) a real go-getter as a coach. That’s all he preaches, ‘Come off the ball fast,’ so it works well for me.”
The Crimson Tide’s offensive line includes three prospects that are expected to come off the board fairly early in the 2013 draft.
Warmack led the trio in paving the way for a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, including fellow draft classmate Eddie Lacy.
In SEC and BCS Championship victories this past season, Lacy turned in a combined 40 carries for 321 yards and knows where to give his thanks for those performances.
“Chance is my favorite lineman,” Lacy said. “Off the field when we’re on the side, he’s one of the coolest dudes ever. When it’s time to go in and get some reps in this game, he’s different. He’s just a different person to whoever gets in his way. You’re going to move or get ran over – one of the two.”