Without question, the 2014 NFL Draft features no shortage of talented offensive linemen, many of whom are projected to go in the first round. And one of the risers at the position is Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, who has recently ascended on numerous rankings.
Lewan was the lone veteran on the Wolverines’ offensive line this past season, but he surely played up to — and perhaps exceeded — expectations. The senior displayed above-average athleticism and improved his as a run-blocker. He already was highly touted for his pass-blocking ability, and it doesn’t hurt that he has been a starter since Day 1 in Ann Arbor.
Perhaps Lewan’s best performance came during the team’s most important game.
NFL.com’s Albert Breer suggested Lewan needed a standout game against the rival Buckeyes in order to solidify his status as a first-rounder. Lewan responded, helping Michigan to accumulate more than 600 yards of total offense, including 152 yards earned on the ground, and having a field day against the Ohio State linebackers.
But while Lewan’s skill-set on the field is without question, his off-the-field antics come with a bit of a red flag.
Soon after the rivalry game, an Ohio State fan alleged that Lewan assaulted him. The Ann Arbor police questioned the tackle after the report was filed, according to the Detroit Free Press, but no comments have been made since. In recent years, how a player conducts themselves off the field is just as critical to their performance on it, especially during the draft, though as of now there are no indications that Lewan’s stock has fallen because of it.
Lewan is ranked eighth overall by Mel Kiper Jr., 14th overall by ESPN Scouts Inc. and 12th overall by the CBS Sports. All three scouting services list Lewan as the No. 3 offensive tackle in the class behind Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews.
With so many teams in the hunt for a solid tackle, Lewan could fall as early as 11th overall to the Tennessee Titans, shoring up the offensive line for new head coach Ken Whisenhunt. The Titans have decisions to make on their current tackles, David Stewart and Michael Roos, and a new tackle could help whoever starts under center for Tennessee in 2014.
Should he get past Tennessee, the Pittsburgh Steelers could look to bulk up in the trenches with Lewan. The team drafted Mike Adams a few years back, but injuries have cost him some time. And other than that, Marcus Gilbert remains a project. With young linemen like David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey and Adams, Lewan could give Pittsburgh an outstanding core.
Finally, both the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals will undoubtedly scoop up Lewan if he falls into their laps. Miami had endured its share of drama this season with their tackles, so they’re definitely looking to take care of that position. The Cards have to address the position with their current tackles on their way to free agency.