Indianapolis — Even if the Lions re-sign 31-year-old Rob Sims, they'll likely look for a long-term replacement at left guard this offseason. During their draft preparations, they might even see a familiar player.
Duke guard Laken Tomlinson said he tries to model his game after Larry Warford, a third-round Lions pick in 2013 who started the past two years at right guard. After hearing comparisons to Warford, Tomlinson said he looked for tape for some tips.
"I see the resemblance in my own technique, so I kind of continually watch more film on him," Tomlinson said Wednesday at the NFL combine.
And without hesitation, Tomlinson said Warford's footwork stands out most.
"He has really nimble feet, so I try to implement that in my game," Tomlinson said.
NFL.com draft analyst Mike Mayock also made a comparison between Tomlinson and Warford during a teleconference this week.
ESPN ranks Tomlinson the No. 3 guard behind LSU's La'El Collins, who many teams see as a tackle, and South Carolina's A.J. Cann.
Based on the recent draft history for the Lions, Cann would be a perfect pick because he was a four-year starter in the Southeastern Conference at left guard. Last year, the Lions spent a third-round pick on Travis Swanson, a four-year starting center at Arkansas, and Warford started three years at right guard.
With another pick, the Lions will have completely overhauled their interior offensive line in three years.
Unlike Warford and Swanson, though, Cann and Tomlinson are unlikely to fall to the third round, especially after Tomlinson helped his stock at the Senior Bowl.
Another thing setting Tomlinson apart — he graduated with a double-major in evolutionary anthropology and psychology. He also has ambitions of becoming a neurosurgeon.
But for now, the Jamaican-born Tomlinson considers football the ultimate challenge.
"Some of my strengths are I play with great physical fundamentals," he said. "I play with great pad leverage, and I'm a hell of a nasty player."