The Lions’ third-round draft pick was on every All-Rookie Team and was named Rookie of the Year by the popular football statistics website Pro Football Focus.
In Warford, the Lions seem to have found their right guard for the next 10 years.
But when Warford looks back on his rookie season, he critiques it a bit different. He sees a ton of growth potential.
“Looking back on my last three games and comparing it to my first four or five, the difference in explosion was significant,” Warford told detroitlions.com about hitting the proverbial rookie wall. “I wasn’t coming off the ball as hard as I used to. I was still getting good movement and all that, but it wasn’t a snap like it used to be. I didn’t realize how much (the season) would tear me down.”
Warford said he's really focused this offseason on taking better care of his body so he can withstand the rigors of 16 games, and potentially more.
“I didn’t know how many more games I had in me (at the end of last year),” Warford admitted.
It’s a common problem among rookies entering the NFL. After they finish their bowl games, NFL prospects immediately start training for the NFL Scouting Combine, their Pro Day and individual NFL workouts. They get drafted and then it’s the rookie minicamp and OTAs. There's little time for their bodies to recover.
Most players are used to a 12- or 13-game college schedule with a month between the end of the regular season and the bowl game. A 16-game NFL season is a big adjustment.
Along with taking better care of his body, Warford said he’s been very conscious of improving the technical aspects of his game.
“The biggest different this offseason is that I know what I need to prepare for and I have film of me from last year in the NFL,” Warford said. “I saw what I did last year and I know what I need to improve on.”
Last offseason, Warford admitted there were significant adjustments he’d have to make to his game going from college to the NFL.
He's now a year older, a year wiser and has a year of NFL experience under his belt. Now it's more improving the little things and maintaining his body.
“It’s not so much of where I’m going, how am I going to fit into this offense, am I going to be playing or what is the talent difference?” he said.
“It’s more, ‘Okay, I know where I’m headed right now.’ I know what needs to be done to reach my goals.”
Warford’s rookie season was good, no doubt, but he says the encore performance in 2014 will be even better.
“I keep my head down and keep everything out, he said. "Looking back on it I really didn’t believe I was doing as well as everyone told me. I was just focused on what I was doing at the moment.
“After everything was said and done, I did do pretty well, but me being me, I have so much more to improve on. Honestly, I feel like I didn’t even come close to what I could have done in terms of more technical stuff and technical issues I can improve on. Until I do that, I’m just like ehh.”