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Draft wrap-up: Warford links, free agent deals, Stoops' success

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A few days removed from being taken by the Lions in the third round, Larry Warford seems to be the rare draft pick that avoids criticism. The former star Kentucky guard has been well-received by Detroit fans and media alike and the consensus seems to be that he fills a need and will quickly compete for a starting role.

Here are a few links by which you can judge the reaction yourself:

Detroit Lions fill massive need with massive guard prospect Larry Warford
(Justin Rogers, MLive.com)

In three seasons as the starting right guard for the Wildcats, he led the SEC interior blockers with an 88.47 percent grade for blocking consistency, and registered 36 touchdown-resulting blocks and 125 knockdowns.

Detroit released starting guard Stephen Peterman at the start of the offseason and Warford is expected to compete for that opening on the right side.

"I think he definitely competes for it," general manager Martin Mayhew said. "You know, he's got some stuff to learn. He's got to clean some things up. But I think he's got a chance to compete as a starter."

Larry Warford is the big body the Lions need in the interior of their o-line (Tim Twentyman, Detroitlions.com)

The Lions are expecting Warford to come in and compete right away for their vacant right guard spot, but he said he's just worried about getting better every day.

"I don't want to talk about me starting," he said. "I just want to come in and compete as hard as I can, keep working and hopefully learn from the best there about playing in the NFL."

Detroit Lions' Larry Warford 'dominant' on Kentucky's offensive line, Mike Mayock says (Josh Slagter, MLive.com)

The Lions selected Riley Reiff with the 23rd overall pick in 2012, and he could start the season now at tackle if Warford is able to start.

"This is one of my favorite football players in the draft," NFL Network's Mike Mayock said. "You want to talk about a big, square, stout son of a gun. This is him. Every tape I put on, he was dominant."

Warford measures at 6-foot-3 and 332 pounds. He's made the All-SEC second team the past three seasons.

Get to know Larry Warford: Detroit Lions get dominant offensive guard in third round (Gillian Van Stratt, MLive.com)

In related news, Warford was the only Wildcat chosen in this year's NFL Draft, but he won't be the UK player to get a chance to live out his dreams at the next level. Soon after the draft's conclusion on Saturday, Martavius Neloms (Lions), Matt Smith (Atlanta Falcons) and Collins Ukwu (Minnesota Vikings) each announced on their Twitter accounts that they signed as free agents. Congratulations to all four.

One final note on the 2013 NFL Draft: Florida State led all schools and set a school record with 11 players chosen this weekend. Of those 11, seven were coached by former defensive coordinator and current UK head coach Mark Stoops, who attended the draft on Thursday and saw two of his players - defensive end Bjoern Werner and cornerback Xavier Rhodes - go in the first round.

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