2014 NFL Draft: Taylor Lewan Is No Lock To Be Miami Dolphins’ 1st-Round Choice If Available
The Miami Dolphins have long been linked to Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin as a potential selection with the No. 19 overall pick. Martin to Miami adds up because he’ll likely be the top available player for the Dolphins’ biggest area of need. But what would happen if Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan slipped through the first 18 selections?
That might not be the unlikelihood it once projected to be. Although the majority of draft analysts predict Lewan will still be taken somewhere inside the top 15, character concerns and undisciplined game tape have raised some legitimate concerns about his draft stock.
Off the field, Lewan is facing three misdemeanor charges for an alleged altercation with Ohio State fans back in December. On the field, Lewan exhibits impressive athleticism but commits his fare share of penalties, isn’t always sound in his technique and appears a bit raw for a four-year collegiate starter.
So, with a huge hole remaining at right tackle, will the Dolphins pounce on Lewan if he’s still on the board? According to a recent report by The Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson, they just may.
“A team official says the Dolphins would be happy if they could somehow snag Michigan’s Taylor Lewan,” wrote Jackson. The Dolphins would naturally have to take a good, long look at Lewan if he’s still for the taking. Their need for a reliable right tackle is too vital and Lewan’s potential is too imposing to bypass him as a prospect without hesitation.
But Lewan’s status as the No. 3 tackle prospect of the class is far from concrete judgement. And the Dolphins expressing strong interest in Lewan through the media reeks of merely being a smokescreen aimed at keeping their true intentions classified.
One could advocate that Zack Martin, who is perceived to be a high-character player with a more well-rounded game, would be the safer pick. Neither Martin nor Lewan has any extensive experience at right tackle, though, which makes those who do, like Virginia‘s Morgan Moses and Florida State‘s Ja’Wuan James, far from second-tier options by comparison.
The Dolphins undoubtedly covet trustworthy personalities to fill out the remaining openings of their offensive line with the “Bullygate” disaster still fresh in the air. Considering the 12 sacks Miami’s right tackle position allowed in 2013, it’s even more imperative that they identify a stable lineman to man the spot.
Thanks to his quickness and speed, Lewan has upside in a zone-blocking scheme but, thanks to inconsistencies, he also has some alarming bust potential.
“Real inconsistent,” one unnamed AFC executive recently said of Lewan to NJ.com. “You see some games, and you think he’s another Jake Long. Then, you watch him struggle. He’ll go first round; I’m just not sure where.”
“There are question marks there,” an anonymous NFC scouting director told the same site about Lewan. “He’s one of those love/hate guys. He worked out well, but he’s not that tough.”
Those sentiments seem to indicate that a) Lewan could realistically tumble in May’s draft and b) he might not be as highly regarded by the Dolphins as they’re leading on.
Rookie GM Dennis Hickey and company may deem Lewan as more of a project than a surefire starter. And given how urgent Miami’s rebuild along the offensive line is, chances are it doesn’t have the patience for any projects, especially those of the first-round variety.
Lewan remains a possibility for the Dolphins with the No. 19 overall pick if he falls that far. He’s just no lock to be their choice.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.