Taylor Lewan is one of the most highly regarded tackles in this years draft, if he elects to go pro. At the moment I believe he is still undecided, however some are suggesting that he has made his decision but he's just not ready to reveal it quite yet. My hunch is he goes pro, his stock is likely never going to be higher.
Taylor started his high school career as a defensive end, excelling at the position. However when he moved from Cave Creek Cactus Shadows to Chaparral High School in 2009 he was moved to the offensive line, immediately he took to the position and was rated highly (4*) by most recruiting websites including Rivals.
I'm sure a lot of you saw the South Carolina v Michigan game and if you saw that then you probably saw the best one on one match-up of the college bowl season. There are no words I can use to describe the talent of Jadeveon Clowney, the first ever Sophomore to win the Ted Hendricks award, given to the nations best defensive end in the country and future #1 overall pick in the draft for my money. He has absolutely everything, so when you have a tackle that holds his own against the player, you know you have one talented individual.
Numerous times they went head to head, over and over again. Lewan held his own on every play and the highlight play that Clowney made was after Lewan has released his block to take on linebacker Reginald Bowens, unfortunately the Michigan TE was beaten off the snap and running back Vincent Smith paid the price. This speaks volumes about the talent that Lewan possesses, he showcased everything you want from a tackle, traits we will get to later.
Hometown: Scottsdale, Arizona
Freshman - Redshirted
Freshman- Appeared in 11 games, started 9
Sophomore- Started all 13 contests at left tackle.
Junior- Started all 13 contests at left tackle.
Where to start with this section, first of all he is very durable as you can see from his record of consecutive starts. Very tough, took a few knocks in the Outback Bowl going against Clowney but missed only a couple of plays. Plays with a lot of aggression, finishing his blocks. His father was an offensive lineman at Minnesota so comes from a good pedigree. Fun personality but don't believe he gets into trouble, think Nick Mangold when you think personality. Excellent in pass protection, good kick step - sets his hands effectively and resets well, has good core strength to withstand bull rushes and has the foot speed to mirror offensive lineman on the outside - very good kick step. Very good at picking up blitzes and always has his head on a swivel. Gets a very good initial surge in the run game, has a thick lower body and powerful legs that keep driving. Does work to the second level when he can and linebackers find it hard to get off his blocks. Manages to really get under the skin of opponents, because of his aggressive nature.
For me he does still has some negatives, he doesn't have great control in open space and when he does get to the second level in run blocking he sometimes misses his blocks on linebackers/safeties. Balance in the run game can be problematic at times as well. Sometimes a little vertical in pass protection and can get beaten by quicker linebackers. Has improved this aspect of his game in 2012 and we saw the improvements against Clowney who has one of the quickest first steps in the nation.
There is a lot to like about Taylor Lewan this year and he will be a first round selection. In my opinion he is much more suited to being a left tackle and with his kick step and foot speed he will probably turn into an elite tackle at some point in his career. However he will need to work on his run blocking and ensure that he keeps his balance when coming against some of the finer pass rushers in the NFL.
Would I Draft Him For The Jets?
No, I wouldn't personally draft him for us. Mainly because I see his future at left tackle and we just don't need one. I don't think he quite has the run blocking ability, weight to hold up at right tackle right now and why go away from his strengths. Some team looking for a good pass protection left tackle will lap up his game and draft him in the 1st round. It shouldn't be the Jets.