STRENGTHS - A smart player who has been the leader of USC's offensive line, he has no trouble handling making the protection calls and getting the OL set properly to block. Quick out of stance, Holmes is able to get set-up in good blocking position fast. Able to bend knees and sink hips, he can block, both run and pass, with good leverage. He shows his awareness/instincts helping the other linemen when he does not have a man to block and can switch off with other linemen to adjust to DL stunts/games/blitzes. An extremely tough player, Holmes battled through a painful, nagging knee injury to stay in the lineup in 2012 even though his play clearly suffered. He can get through the LOS to the second level, both when uncovered and when he has to work around a DT, quickly and does a good job of blocking with base/leverage to tie up and eliminate LB from the play. He is a definite team leader with VG intangibles.
WEAKNESSES - Holmes is the classic over-achiever who lacks the tools NFL teams ideally want in a starting center. Although his height/weight measureables are fine, he does not play up to it, as he can be jolted and driven backwards way too easily. On straight ahead run blocks, DT's are able to jolt him upright, can drive him backwards and are able to shed and disrupt/make the play behind the LOS. Despite his ability to set-up quickly with good leverage in pass pro, Holmes gets driven backwards in the QB's by bull rushers way too often. While he is effective stepping through the LOS to block on the second level, he lacks the quickness and speed to pull and get outside to block effectively on outside runs. More than anything, Holmes is a limited athlete who lacks good enough playing strength to make up for it.
SUMMARY - I was disappointed when I evaluated Holmes because I expected him to be a better player than he proved to be. An extremely smart linemen who does an excellent job of making the protection calls and gets the linemen in the right position, Holmes is limited by a lack of good playing strength and athleticism. Overall, I would not draft Holmes until very late because I do not think he can be a productive starter in the NFL. However, many smart college centers with as much starting experience as Holmes end up carving out careers as long term backups, which is why in the 6th or 7th round he is worth consideration.