2014 Draft Prospect Profile: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

USA TODAY Sports

Taylor Lewan was thought to be one of the top OT prospects for 2013, before surprising everyone and announcing he'd return to Michigan for his senior season. Now he's considered one of the top OT prospects for 2014. Can't say I agree with that. Here's my scouting report.

Name: Taylor Lewan
School: Michigan
Position: OT
Height / Weight: 6064 / 308 (unofficial)
Year: rSr.

Background

DOB: July 22, 1991 ... Hometown: Cave Creek, AZ ... High School: Chaparral ... Started playing OL senior year of HS ... Has appeared in 37 games for Michigan at LT, starting 35 ... Big Ten's 2012 Rimington-Price Offensive Lineman of the Year ... All-Big Ten second team selection by coaches and honorable mention by the media in 2011

2012 games viewed: vs. Alabama, @Notre Dame, vs. Illinois, vs. Michigan State, @Ohio State, vs. South Carolina (Outback Bowl)
2011 games viewed: @Illinois, vs. Ohio State

Positives

Ideal size/frame, length and strength ... Quick first step and short area explosion ... Fires off the snap and gets to the second level instantly ... Stands ground, anchors; absorbs and stonewalls bull rush ... Solid kick slide ... Natural strength enables him to win even when he doesn't get advantageous leverage or display proper technique ... Powerful grip and effective hand placement ... Controls opponent completely when able to extend and latch on ... Good run blocker who gets after defenders, shows athleticism on the move and in space as well ... Swift and fluid mover on pulls; locates, blocks and paves the way ... Consistently engages, gets push and opens running lanes ... Keeps feet moving through contact on run blocks, drives defender downfield ... Can both wall off and move defender ... Plays with a nasty streak, blocks through the whistle ... Flashes awareness to pick up initial rusher and then locate and block rusher coming on twist/stunt or delay ... Uses long arms to lock out rushers or direct them off course even if beaten initially ... Caves down on the line to create holes

Negatives

Doesn't get enough depth in his set ... Shoddy, downright bad balance ... Slow feet with moments of sloppy footwork in pass pro ... Looks uncoordinated and clumsy at times, lacks agility in pass pro ... Struggles with and gets constantly beat by quickness and speed around the edge ... Lots of "catch" blocking ... Plays high with way too much hunching at the waist, getting shoulders out in front of his feet, overextension, leaning and lunging ... Needs loads of technique work; little to no punch, bends/shortens arms, drops hands, poor angular play ... Falls off too many blocks ... Defenders are able to pull Lewan forward and take advantage of leaning/balance issues, tossing him aside/throwing him down and slipping by ... Ends up on the ground a bunch ... Inconsistent anchor when he doesn't sink his butt and sit in his stance, can get jolted backwards ... Gets out in space but is beaten cleanly as defenders go right by him (has to take better angles) ... Inconsistent awareness on the second level, sometimes locating/blocking and sometimes not locating/lunging/whiffing

Conclusion

Liked him in some games, hated him in others. The 2012 Ohio State game is really bad the whole way through. Overall, I'm not with the hype for Taylor Lewan as a top-tier, surefire 1st round prospect. The physical tools are obvious, but I don't think he can be a LT at the next level and is instead best suited to succeed at RT. Good run blocker, but you do not want him protecting your QB's blind side.

I don't think he can be a LT at the next level. You don't want him protecting your QB's blind side.

Lewan's a significantly better athlete as a run blocker than pass blocker and gets abused by quickness and speed around the edge -- much better against big rushers who attack him head-on and rely on power. He needs a lot of technique work and takes poor angles in space. If Lewan doesn't initiate contact immediately and lock his hands into the rusher's chest, he's prone to sudden outside/inside moves and getting beat because his subpar foot quickness doesn't allow him to recover, reposition and stay in front. What bothered me most was the amount of hunching at the waist, getting shoulders out on front of his feet, overextension, leaning and lunging, all of which were compounded by slow feet and bad balance in pass pro. Even with continued physical development, the balance issues are what convince me Lewan can't play LT in the NFL and make me most skeptical about his overall potential.

I had a number of people tell me Lewan played very well in the Outback Bowl and neutralized Jadeveon Clowney, yet that wasn't the case at all. It was a good battle, for sure, but Clowney got the best of their matchup more often when the two were 1-on-1 and exploited Lewan's flaws.

Value: 2nd-3rd round (I'm leaning to 3rd round right now, but let's see how his 2013 tape looks)

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