The more you study the 2014 NFL Draft prospect pool, the more you realize that this year’s class of offensive tackle prospects is right there with the 2013 class. It’s very possible that there could be five or more players at the position taken in the first round, and Taylor Lewan is right in that mix.
Lewan’s 48 career starts (41 straight) at left tackle is only part of his resume that includes All American and All Conference recognition as well as winning the Big-10 Conference’s offensive lineman of the year award two consecutive seasons (2012, 2013.)
Lewan’s decision to return to school in 2013 seems to have actually hurt his draft stock. While I believe his tape has remained consistent (he didn’t lose value as a tackle prospect), had he turned pro last year he would have been in the discussion amongst the top tackles available (Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, Lane Johnson and DJ Fluker.) And while he’s amongst the top offensive tackles again this year, with the talent available at the quarterback position, he’s likely to to be pushed further down the first round than he would have gone last year.
Below is FRG Scouting’s evaluation of Taylor Lewan.
NAME: Taylor Lewan
Position: Offensive Tackle
Strengths: Hands, Power, Experience
Weaknesses: Temperament, vs. Speed
Taylor Lewan presents with ideal measurables for the tackle position. Standing 6’7″ and weighing nearly 315lbs, Lewan will have little trouble matching up versus NFL defenders…He carries his weight well with a thick/solid build from his shoulders through his trunk…Lewan is a prospect with good length, possessing the necessary arm make-up to man the edge in the NFL…Athletically, Lewan is adequate in his ability to slide and shuffle his feet, and his initial kick-step is quick and efficient…A real technician with his hand play; when Lewan locks onto the defender there’s little to no chance that he will lose. The strength he possesses in his hands, forearms and upper body is amongst the elite in this Class…Lewan possesses a strong, thick base and is capable of anchoring versus the bull rush in pass protection…In the run game, Lewan is a physical mauler who excels at in-line blocking; consistently able to lock onto the defender and drive him out of the play…A willing athlete in space, Lewan makes his best effort to deliver a blow in the second level versus LBs and speedier defenders.
While Lewan is an adequate athlete, he tends to struggle versus superior speed players on the edge; when Lewan loses on the first step, he becomes a bit of a leaner and has a hard time recovering…Not the most flexible athlete in space; struggles to change direction as fluidly as you’d like to see from a left tackle responsible for mirroring oncoming rushers…While his hand play is elite, there are times when a holding call could be made; could become an issue on next level…An emotional player who has had some on field penalties and alleged off-field eruptions.
On the next level, Lewan projects as a starting quality tackle prospect likely to begin his career on the right side of the offensive line. There aren’t many tackles available this year with the level of experience and overall technique as Lewan, especially on display with how well he uses his hands and controls the defender. While Lewan may never end up on the left side due to some athletic limitations, there’s no denying that he is one of the premier players available in the 2014 NFL Draft.