Citing phenomenal athletic ability, some pundits suggested Lewan was good enough to hear his name called within the first five picks. Others, claiming underwhelming film to base their argument, predicted Lewan would free fall in the draft.
The truth is typically somewhere in the middle of such opposing views, which proved to be the case with Lewan’s draft stock. But his performance on the field will ultimately decide which side made a more accurate assessment of his ability.
As far as Lewan’s impact as a rookie, a lot will be decided in training camp as he’s not been guaranteed a starting spot. The Titans have two veteran tackles with plenty of experience in Michael Roos and Michael Oher at left and right tackle respectively.
All indications are that Lewan will compete with Oher for the starting right tackle job, but there has also been some speculation that Roos could be flipped to the other side of the line, clearing up an opening for Lewan on quarterback Jake Locker‘s blindside.
Assuming the most likely scenario, considering Roos has been an effective left tackle and probably shouldn’t be toyed with, Lewan projects as a handful for Oher on the right side.
Oher, a free agent addition whose tenure with the Baltimore Ravens was a disappointing one, graded as one of Pro Football Focus’ least efficient tackles in 2013. He was adequate in pass protection at times — although he still surrendered eight sacks, seven quarterback hits and 42 hurries — but was brutally bad as a run blocker. With a -17.0 accumulative grade, Oher was Pro Football Focus’ worst run blocking tackle last season.
Thus, if Lewan can prove to be a superior run blocker, which shouldn’t be difficult, in addition to displaying reliability in pass protection, the rookie will likely be able to find his way onto the starting lineup in year one. There are some concerns about Lewan that he must dispel, though.
He needs to be more physical in the running game than he was on tape in the Big Ten and needs to clean up some technique issues that shouldn’t have still been present after four years of starting experience. But if he can accompany improvement in those areas with the high-ceiling athleticism he possesses, there will be nothing stopping Lewan from emerging as one of the better offensive linemen in the sport.
Cody Strahm is an NFL Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter.