Holmes broke into the lineup during his sophomore season. He started at right guard and was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention. Holmes moved over to center as a junior and had an impressive season. He did a good job of opening up holes in the ground game for Curtis McNeal and Marc Tyler. Holmes was a fabulous pass-protector for Barkley. The center led the way to keep the pocket clean, helping Barkley to have a fantastic season for the Trojans.
2012 Season Outlook:
There is no reason to believe that Holmes won't have an excellent season. USC is bringing back a ton of talent including Barkley and McNeal. The offensive line lost superstar left tackle Matt Kalil, but that shouldn't have a real impact on Holmes' blocking assignments. Overall, he has a workable schedule highlighted by two tough matchups.
It would really help Holmes' stock if he plays well against Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and UCLA tackle Cassius Marsh. Lotulelei is a potential top-10 pick next April, so Holmes will see a tough challenge with the Utes standout. Aside from those games, Holmes has the talent to impress in 2012 and should have a good year blocking for USC.
There is a lot for NFL teams to like about Holmes. He is a perfect candidate to protect the pocket for a signal-caller in the passing-driven NFL. Holmes' mobility and pass-protection skills are exactly what the NFL is looking for. He can move quickly to get in position to pick up blitzers but also has the skills to fire out of stance and double-team defensive tackles with guards.
Holmes has nice awareness to pick up pass-rushers. It would be helpful if he added more strength and power to his base for the next level. That would help him anchor against zero-technique defensive tackles who line up directly over the center. With some of the heavy and powerful 3-4 nose tackles in the NFL, Holmes ability to stonewall their bull-rushes could be challenged. The redshirt senior should have the height to add some extra bulk to handle the big tackles.
Holmes is quick to the next level of the defense as a run-blocker. He hits blocks on linebackers to help spring his backs for more yardage. Holmes also combo-blocks well with his guards. In the NFL, he would be best as a zone-blocker who can use his speed and athleticism. If Holmes is drafted into a power scheme, he definitely should fill out his frame with another 10-15 pounds.
Centers are a critical position in the NFL for interior pass-protection. Holmes looks like a future NFL starter, and teams that are heavy on passing the ball will like what they see with from the Trojans center.
2013 Draft Expectations:
Holmes looks like a second-round pick entering his senior season. He hasn't really been dominant enough to push for late first-round consideration. If Holmes is inconsistent in 2012, he could slide into the mid-rounds.