Taylor Lewan – Michigan
Age when drafted: 22
Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ
Collegiate Number: 77
Combine notables: N/A
Games Viewed: 2012 – Alabama, Notre Dame, Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State, South Carolina
Taylor Lewan played three high school seasons at Cactus Shadows before transferring to AZ powerhouse Chaparral High School for his senior season. Lewan was a four-star prospect by all recruiting services and earned a bid to play in the Under Armour All-American game.
After redshirting in 2009, Lewan would make nine starts in 2010 as a redshirt freshman. Despite some issues with mental errors (false starts and personal foul penalties) Lewan’s ceiling was on display early in this career. 2011 was Lewan’s breakout season as he consistently rated as Michigan’s top offensive lineman and went on to earn 2nd team All-Big Ten honors. As a junior, Lewan took steps forward into being an elite tackle prospect and many thought he would enter the 2013 NFL Draft to challenge Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel to be one of the first OL off the board. Lewan opted to stay at UM for his senior season.
This spring, I got an up close and personal look at Lewan and walked away impressed. During my three days at Michigan, Lewan was routinely found getting extra work after practice. Two of the days, the offense ‘lost’ and were required extra conditioning time – Lewan finished first or near first in the lineman group during the conditioning and continued to work after practice was finished. Also noted was Lewan’s leadership with the OL and the team in general.
Lewan’s dad, Dave, was an offensive lineman for the University of Minnesota.
Lewan is all of 6-foot-7 and near 310 pounds. Lewan’s strength is the best part of his game as he uses his large wingspan, strong hands, and powerful base to keep defenders at bay. Lewan’s struggles come with his ability to move laterally. He struggles getting the edge against speed rushers. I found him to be a good ‘mover’ going forward and really excelled getting to the second level and hitting in space.
WHAT HE DOES WELL:
Lewan is an NFL-ready run blocker. Once Lewan is locked on in the run game, you can forget about it. Lewan’s strength and power as a man/drive blocker is impressive and will have teams intrigued early in the draft. Likewise, Lewan excelled as a move blocker in the run game. He gets to the second level with ease and can engulf defenders.
He looks like a natural athlete with his ability to bend at the knees for a player that stands over 6’7”. Lewan’s nastiness will make him a favorite of NFL line coaches. He blocks whistle to whistle and does everything in his power to ensure he wins the battle (including pulling Jadeveon Clowney’s hair).
As I talked about, Lewan is an excellent leader with the work ethic to be a success at the next level. I don’t think Lewan has elite skills but will work his way into a more than capable OT in the NFL.
WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON:
Far from the complete prospect that many make Lewan out to be. Several areas that stick out as problems going into the NFL. First being his lack of balance. Lewan gets shed too often and plays out of balance – leaning and getting shed by guys he should dominate. Lewan is going to struggle initially with speed rushers at the next level on the left or right side. Lewan just doesn’t have the quickness to win the edge against speed.
Lewan needs to work on his hand placement as well to avoid a boatload of holding calls in the NFL. Lewan allows his hands to work outside the chestplate with regularity and will draw a ton of holding calls in the NFL if he doesn’t clean up this technique.
It appears that Lewan is most comfortable locked in with his hands and doesn’t mirror well in space without being engaged. In my mind, there’s enough concerns with Lewan to keep him out of the top ten in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Minor injuries plagued him in 2012, particularly against Alabama and Ohio State.
Taylor Lewan is a very solid offensive tackle but I don’t see him as an elite level prospect. He’s an NFL-ready run blocker but needs to work on his ability to pass protect against speed. Lewan held up well against William Gholston and Jadeveon Clowney, for the most part. If he can engage the defender with his strong hands and long arms – he wins. If he can’t get his hands on the defender – he struggles.
Lewan has been hyped as a top prospect. I’m not sure that’s the case. He’s a nice, solid OT but doesn’t have elite qualities. I was very impressed with his work habits this spring and think he turns out to be a solid left or right tackle at the next level. That said, he’s a top 20-25 prospect for me – not a top 10 player.