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2014 NFL Draft Results: 5 Questions with Maize N Brew on Taylor Lewan

Jack Stearns from Maize N Brew was nice enough to answer 5 questions about the Titans first round draft pick, Taylor Lewan.


1. What is there to the off the field stuff that Lewan is facing?

Honestly, not much. Lewan gets a bad rap for the nasty streak he carries on the field. I personally had a way bigger issue with his propensity for personal fouls than with anything else. (He was very frustrating as a redshirt freshman.) Lewan has grown up a lot, though. He turned down millions of dollars last season to come back for his fifth year, which he did not need to do, either athletically or academically. He claims he did purely because he was loyal to his teammates and wanted to have one more shot to chase a Big Ten championship. Obviously, it didn't work out that way, but I don't think he regrets it.

Currently Lewan is facing potential charges for assault and battery after an alleged fight he got into after the Ohio State game with a couple of Buckeye fans. (Really, is it any type of surprise that Buckeye fans would press charges against a Michigan player?) From my understanding, the worst that he faces in terms of sentencing is a fine, especially since he maintains that he was trying to stop the fight. But his reputation often brings this into doubt. He's a guy with a nasty streak, through and through. Even though he's all smiles, he takes absolutely no b.s. from anybody.

The more concerning off-the-field element that NFL fans seem to be worried about is the alleged rumor that he threatened to rape a woman -- in 2009, when he would have been redshirting at 18 -- in order to intimidate her into backing off his teammate, kicker Brendan Gibbons, who was expelled from Michigan five years later because they concluded his contact with the woman in question was inappropriate and unwanted. As the son of a former public defense attorney, I have something of a legal background and I analyzed the Lewan case as thoroughly as I could without an actual law degree.

The first thing I noticed was that there is practically no credible evidence that Lewan actually threatened this woman. The report that claims so comes from a blog called the Washtenaw Watchdog, which locally has a reputation for creating controversy where none exists. (That doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong in this case, but something to consider when coming to a conclusion.) The blog links to a police report where officers warned a player not to threaten the victim again, but the player's name is redacted. The writer, Douglas Smith, frequently referred to as a "gadfly" by other news outlets and blogs, makes the strong assertion that the redacted name is Lewan's despite no other damning evidence, such as an eyewitness testimony. Because there is no other evidence, the report is generally seen as nothing more than an allegation against Lewan. He has not been charged legally. When investigating Gibbons, the University of Michigan found no link to Lewan and nothing which indicated that he threatened the woman.

Lewan himself has denied the allegations publicly. Clearly he has done enough to convince NFL organizations that it was not an issue. More importantly, the Tennessee Titans have determined through their own vetting that he was worth a draft pick. I did a post over at Maize n' Brew where I summed up my thoughts on Lewan, both good and bad. He's a nasty player, but he's fiercely loyal to his team. You have to decide if that's something you can live with on the offensive line.

Bottom line, you have to decide if you trust the Titans to have done their homework. I vouch for the guy, but I'm a Michigan fan, so take it for what it's worth.

2. Break down his strengths and weaknesses.

Without a doubt, Lewan's biggest strength is his size. He's easily 6'8" and has long arms to go with a long, extremely well-built frame. He locked down the left tackle position at Michigan for four straight years and never once was in danger of losing the spot. No one ever came close to beating him out. No one.

He's also very consistent. He never takes a play off -- ever. (If he has, I've never seen it, and I watched him quite closely over the years, being the skeptic about hyped players that I am.) He likes to "play through the whistle" (as opposed to "playing up to the whistle") because he feels that as an offensive lineman it is his job to put defenders in the ground. His nasty streak is something you just can't teach. He's also one of the fastest offensive lineman that Michigan has ever had, and one of the fastest I have personally seen. He has great feet and an even better sense of the rush and the blitz. If he has a forte, it's pass blocking.

In terms of weaknesses, the biggest issue I've had with Lewan is that sometimes his emotions get the better of him. When losing a game (especially against a hated rival), he tends to lose his cool. That can lead to personal fouls, which can cost your team fifteen yards. I don't care how good you are technically, giving up fifteen years for some bogus emotional crap is 100% unacceptable.

His height, while sometimes an asset, can sometimes be a hindrance. I've seen him struggle when edge rushers get low and try to get around him. He tends to do much better around tall defensive ends (like Clowney) than against short, stout rushers. But once he gets locked on somebody, they're probably going down. He's very rarely out-muscled.

3. Do you think he is a guy that can anchor an offensive line for a decade?

Absolutely. The fact that no one even came close to unseating him at Michigan even when he was a redshirt freshman should tell you everything you need to know. He's been our best offensive tackle since Jake Long. I'm not even joking.

Once he gets a few NFL games under his belt, he'll settle in and you won't have to worry about that left tackle position unless an unexpected injury occurs. (And even then, Lewan has always been a guy who bounced back quickly. He often played through injuries in huge games.) He's definitely a guy who can come in and contribute right away. Expect your quarterback production to improve, at least in terms of pocket protection. That's the Michigan difference. (lol just kidding)

4. Is there cause for concern that his off the field issues will follow him to the NFL?

I sincerely doubt it. Nothing he did affected him playing at Michigan, and Brady Hoke runs a pretty tight ship. If nothing else, you guys will be impressed and delighted by his loyalty and his toughness. I will be honest: he is a bit quirky. He did do some odd things. For example, he and his roommate bought a pig as a pet. (They later had to part ways with it, per the coach's instructions.) He also rode on a "twosie" bike and liked to take funny pictures. He has a bizarre sense of humor too. It's not everyone's cup of tea. (I actually didn't like him for the first three years of his career. Now I love him.)

5. What was his best game at Michigan that Titans' fans could go back and watch to get us off the ledge?

Check out how he did against Jadaveon Clowney in the 2013 Outback Bowl. For the plays where Clowney and Lewan went head-to-head, i.e. the plays where Clowney was actually being blocked by Lewan, I think he held up pretty well against the guy who, even then, was considered the best college athlete in the nation. He also did very well against Ohio State in 2013. The 2013 Indiana bout was another one that also produced some odd offensive lineman highlights, but Indiana's defense was terrible, so only view that one if you want to feel good.

A big thanks to Jack for answering these questions.  He said he will be around MCM to answer any questions you might have in the comments.