Taylor Lewan, Michigan (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Taylor Lewan slipped out of the top 10 during the NFL draft's first round, and the Tennessee Titans may have opted to go with a best-player-available option as a result. The Titans selected Lewan, an offensive tackle out of Michigan, with the No. 11 overall pick.
Was this a need? Not necessarily -- the Titans have Michael Roos at LT and signed Michael Oher to play RT this offseason. So, fitting all the pieces together on this line will be a bit of challenge, though Lewan may be able to push through Oher on the depth chart. Tennessee used a Round 1 pick last year on guard Chance Warmack, and also has Andy Levitre at that position. Levitre is coming back off hip surgery, so perhaps Oher will be asked to try his hand at guard.
It will be interesting to see how this develops.
Strengths: Moves extremely well for a man of his size. Lewan drops very well to protect the passer, while his quick feet could make him a fit in either a man- or zone-blocking scheme. Clears to the second level in a hurry, picking out and hunting down linebackers to block. Plays through the whistle with venom — nearly faced discipline for a series of scraps, including Lewan twisting an opponent’s helmet during a game versus Michigan State. Recovers well when he’s jolted by a push to his chest. Vocal and outspoken leader of the Wolverines offense for multiple seasons.
Weaknesses: Penalized too much … and, honestly, easily could have been flagged for about two or three more holding penalties per game. Can be caught leaning and off-balance, most noticeable when Lewan is trying to push forward late in plays; occasionally shows up when a speed rusher gets a step on him. Carrying some red flags he no doubt has had to answer for during meetings with teams. Lets emotion get the best of him, sacrificing his technique to look for a big hit. Blitzes can cause him problems.
Not really sure how to grade this one, to be honest. Lewan is a plug-and-play starter in the NFL and is not all that far behind Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews on this year's prospect list at tackle. But where are the Titans planning on plugging-and-playing him?
Oher is the obvious candidate to be cast aside ... except he just signed a four-year, $20 million deal with $9.5 million guaranteed. Roos will turn 32 in October, so he's closer to the end of his career than the beginning but remains a very steady hand. Warmack is not going anywhere, and Levitre should retain his starting spot if he's healthy.
So, put an asterisk by this pick until the Titans explain their motives.
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