|Class:||RS Senior||40 time:||N/A|
Besides the almighty quarterback position, it’s widely viewed that a blindside protector is the second most important investment an NFL team can make. No, it’s certainly not impossible to win without an elite left tackle, but having one definitely makes the job easier, especially if you’re the one under center.
This is why we see such a premium on left tackles in the NFL market. Two recent examples of this: 1) The Denver Broncos just paid their star left tackle Ryan Clady nearly $60 million to protect Peyton Manning’s blindside, and 2) three out of the top four picks in the most recent NFL Draft were left tackles. So who’s the best LT in this upcoming class? Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan just might be the guy.
- Outstanding size for either tackle position at 6-foot-8, 308-pounds
- Is very durable; has started 35 of the 37 games he’s played at LT for Mich
- Held his own vs. Jadeveon Clowney in Outback Bowl, but had plenty of help in doing so.
- Has very long arms which he uses well to keep defenders away from his body. Also has a great initial punch
- Very strong lower body is apparent. Very strong base against bull rush.
- Does a very good job of mirroring his opponent; Keeps defender squarely in front of him
- Outstanding run blocker with strong hands; When he locks his hands inside, it’s all over for the defender.
- Does a great job of keeping his feet moving both in drive blocking and while out in space reaching second level
- Very good at getting to second level, and making multiple solid blocks while en route
- Is above average on pulls, traps and reaches
- Outstanding at picking up blitzes and stunts. Really keeps his head on a swivel and shows terrific on-field awareness
- Elite awareness is evident by always knowing where his quarterback is in the pocket
- Has the feet to play in either a man or zone blocking scheme at the next level
- Plays with a nasty demeanor and is the latest in a long line of outstanding tackles in Ann Arbor
- Has a somewhat choppy kick-slide; If he can become more fluid, he could become much quicker
- Is not an elite athlete, and can be beaten by them off the edge; It was very apparent going against Clowney what kind of athlete Lewan is
- Must become more flexible, which also will increase his foot quickness and knee-bend
- Can get too tall on chips getting to the second level
- Has a tendency to lunge on draw plays
- Can be beaten with a strong counter-move inside if he doesn’t have any help
- Not as strong of a pass-blocker as he is run-blocker, which is paramount if you’re to protect a quarterbacks blindside
Once again in 2013, I expect Lewan to roll through Big Ten competition and for the second year in a row be named 1st team All-American. Lewan would’ve been an early first round pick if he had declared last year after his junior campaign and barring injury, should be in the same position this year. I really don’t see him following in Jake Long or Eric Fisher‘s steps as being the No. 1 overall pick (because of Clowney), but he will challenge Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama) and Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) as the top tackle taken in the 2014 NFL Draft.
His skill set translates very well to the professional level, but if wants to play on the blindside, he needs to improve his pass blocking and footwork, which he has the talent to do. But even if he doesn’t, he’s got the potential to be a Pro Bowl caliber right tackle. Either way, this guy should be a long-time starter in the National Football League.
2014 NFL Draft Projection: Top ten pick overall in the first round
Film Watched: vs. Ohio State (2010, 2011, 2012), vs. Alabama (2012), vs. South Carolina (2012), vs. Michigan State (2011, 2012), vs. Notre Dame (2012).