When looking to get mean and nasty on the offensive line in the 2014 NFL draft, look no further than Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. Atlanta could certainly use someone with his aggression at offensive tackle after seeing the passive play of Lamar Holmes and Sam Baker in 2012 and 2013.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com has reported that the Falcons have brought in the former Wolverine for a pre-draft visit. The Falcons should ideally trade down to around No. 10 if they are really targeting Lewan so that they could pick up another selection in the third round.
University of Michigan
Combine / Pro Day Measurements
Height: 6'7-1/8" Weight: 309 pounds
Arm Length: 33-7/8" Hand Measurement: 9-1/4"
40 yard dash: 4.87 sec. 10 yard split: 1.70 sec.
20 yard shuttle: 4.49 sec. 3-cone Drill: 7.39 sec. Bench Reps: 29 reps
Vertical Jump: 30.5" Broad Jump: 9'9"
2013: 13 Games Started at Left Tackle
2012: 13 Games Started at Left Tackle
2011: 13 Games Started at Left Tackle
2010: 9 Games Started, 11 Games Played at Left Tackle
Nastiness is the name of Lewan’s game. From an overall athletic standpoint, he is one of the top 10 players in this year’s draft class. (This is based on his combine times and adjusted for his size.) But the pure anger that he plays with is what's fun to watch.
He’s got a very good initial punch and can mirror with his man in pass protection well. He also drives off of the ball violently in the running game. He can get to the second level quickly and can play either in a man or zone-blocking scheme. As a four-year starter from the Big Ten, he’s very experienced and has seen quite a few NFL-level pass-rushers already.
As solid an all-round prospect as Lewan is, he still has some major issues when dealing with defensive ends and outside linebackers who initiate inside rush moves. He will get his pad level too high and lose leverage, allowing guys to bull him over.
Also, his aggressiveness sometimes leads to penalties, which indicates a lack of discipline. He’ll have to spend some time with guard Joe Hawley learning the art of how to annoy the defender without committing infractions.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Athletically, there are few offensive tackles who are better than Lewan. He was also a captain for the Wolverines in 2013 and is known as a bit of a gym rat. However, he was arrested for three assault charges dating back to an incident around the time of last year's showdown with Ohio State.
He denies that he was trying to do anything outside of breaking up a fight. Nonetheless, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed before the Falcons can move forward on selecting the big tackle. If Lewan's account checks out as he says, the Falcons could have him pretty high on their board.
Tough, angry and aggressive on the field is the best way to describe Lewan, as he's a bit of a mixed bag on the field, having displayed some discipline issues during games.
If he can learn how to lower his pad level and steer clear of trouble off the field, he looks like a mid-to-late first-round talent. However, if he does go in the top 10, it would be poor value for his talent. The Falcons need to not fall into this trap with the sixth overall pick.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
If the Falcons want to bring in Lewan, they’ll almost have to take him in the early first round. While he isn’t really worth the selection that high, some NFL teams will fall in love with him and take him much higher than he really deserves to go.
However, he would be an instant starter for them. He’d start out as the right tackle for at least his first season if not first two seasons. After those, he would move over to the left side and take over as the franchise left tackle.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.