Position: Offensive tackle
Height and Weight: 6’8’’, 309 pounds
A highly physical player, Taylor Lewan is the kind of aggressive offensive tackle many coaches are looking for. The Wolverine started 48 of 50 games while at Ann Arbor and was selected as second-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten after his senior season.
Lewan has a reputation for tenacity and agility, with a strong first step and an ability to win one-on-one tackles. At left tackle, he offers solid pass protection and quick recovery speed, making him a more effective defensive player on both outside and inside plays.
As a notoriously aggressive player, Lewan has had a reputation of perhaps taking it too far, earning him a flurry of personal-foul penalties in 2010, but he has since cleaned up his act (though not entirely).
Having played two different offenses while at Michigan will also make Lewan an attractive prospect as a versatile player who will likely have an easier time adjusting to the NFL.
With his impressive performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, Lewan markedly improved his draft prospects, leading many to believe he could go early.
|40-yard Dash||4.87 (first in his position)|
|Bench Press||29 reps|
|Vertical Jump||30.5 inches (third in his position)|
|Broad Jump||117.0 inches (first in his position)|
As impressive as Greg Robinson was today, Taylor Lewan is right up there with him.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 22, 2014
Lewan’s focus can wander at times, causing a breakdown in footwork and technique. An incident at the 2013 Outback Bowl, in which fellow draft hopeful Jadeveon Clowney leveled Lewan’s teammate, Vincent Smith, appeared to be the result of a lapse in concentration by Lewan.
At the combine two weeks ago, Lewan denied that the tackle was his fault. He said that based on the play called, Clowney was someone else’s man to cover, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk:
You can only control what you can control and whatever ESPN or NFL Network wants to put on their air is up to them. It was not my fault. I hate to say it like that because it’s like I am blaming other people, but it was a double-team between me and the guard on the backside linebacker.
Additionally, the left tackle has weak hands and a lack of development in his game means that Lewan will sometimes commit too early.
From NFLDraftScout.com, Rob Rang writes (via Clare Farnsworth at Seahawks.com):
His biggest areas of needed improvement are in technique and instincts, as his reaction to opponent movement will appear unnatural and a bit mechanical at times.
But with better technical coaching in an NFL environment, Lewan certainly possesses the raw tools that if combined with better technique and instincts, could lead him to long-term dominance at the tackle position.
Lewan is also carrying some off-field baggage, with his role in a 2009 alleged rape case involving teammate Brandon Gibbons.
Nate Solder (New England Patriots), Jake Long (St. Louis Rams)
ESPN draft expert Todd McShay speculates that the Giants, a team in need of an offensive overhaul, will take Lewan in the first round at a No. 12 pick overall, saying (via Jordan Raanan at NJ.com):
This is another tricky one, because the two biggest need areas for the Giants, in my opinion, are offensive tackle and linebacker, and those are two positions they hardly ever use first-round picks on.
They broke their tackle streak last year, selecting Justin Pugh, and I think with him on the right and Lewan on the left they'd have a significant upgrade and a pairing that can better protect Eli Manning. Lewan certainly justifies the pick from a talent standpoint, as he's long, has good experience and showcased his explosiveness at the combine.
Other NFL analysts have him similarly positioned, though Bucky Brooks speculates Lewan could be drafted as high as No. 6 by the Falcons, saying, “protecting Matt Ryan is Thomas Dimitroff's top priority after watching the Falcons surrender 44 sacks a season ago.”