The Miami Dolphins are certainly hurting for offensive line help after allowing a league worst 58 sacks this season. That statistic is also a franchise record.
The regime in Miami seems to have set QB Ryan Tannehill up for failure after failing to secure one of the most important positions along the offensive line, left tackle.
Sure, the team thought they had the position locked down with Jake Long two years ago, but an injury plagued 2012 season coupled with poor play from one of the league’s top pass protectors caused Miami to balk at the idea of a long-term, high priced contract for the free agent left tackle.
Fast forward a bit to Long accepting St. Louis‘ contract offer over Miami’s, and Jeff Ireland’s staff seemed confident in the idea of second-year player Jonathan Martin taking over for Long as Miami’s blind-side protector.
Martin, as we all know, collapsed and quit on Miami’s coaches and fan base, along with fellow teammates.
Miami is now searching for an elite blind-side protector and may not be in position to add the most polished of this year’s crop, but they are in position to add a guy who was once looked at as a potential top five pick.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan.
Weight: 308 lbs.
Draft Stock: Falling after an inconsistent season.
Draft Range: Mid-to-late first round.
First and foremost, Lewan is a very strong run blocker. While run blocking Lewan puts himself into attack mode, where he engages with his guy and stays locked on his man. He also does a very solid job blocking until the whistle, which is something coaches love to see out of a guy. He’s one of the better run blockers in this year’s class and is perhaps the most aggressive run blocker this year. My only issue with Lewan, however, is his knack of not getting to the second level too often. He’s an incredibly gifted athlete as an offensive lineman, and I would like to see him get to the second level more often.
Secondly, Lewan is a good pass protector. He did a very good job against Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, who will likely be a top 15 pick this year. Tuitt is notorious for his combination of size and strength, and I though Lewan did a phenomenal job keeping Tuitt at bay. We’ll get to his struggles in pass pro below.
Lastly, Lewan has a very strong base. He has that tree trunk style to his legs, while also possessing great footwork while blocking. When engaged, Lewan is typically the lowest man and almost always wins his battle.
My biggest concern with Lewan is the fact that he rarely “attacks” oncoming rushers, typically in pass pro. Lewan is a “catcher” meaning he catches defenders rather than sticking his foot into the ground and punching them off the ball. He tends to let defenders get into his body, which they can then control his body, thus tossing him aside to make a play.
Lewan really struggles with speed edge rushers while facing a blitz. As I stated above, Lewan tends to “catch” defenders, which really comes back to bite him while facing a blitz. Lewan needs to focus on becoming more aggressive in pass pro, if not as aggressive as he is while run blocking.
Lastly, I found that Lewan really struggled with his footwork and technique on longer drives, typically when the big-ox was tired. He gets a bit sluggish in his stance, which if your first clear indicator, and then you notice how poorly he fires out of his stance. He needs to work on better conditioning in the pros because he’ll be facing much better athletes in the pros.
The consensus I am seeing is that Lewan’s stock is dropping due to Michigan’s poor season and their inability to successfully run the football this season. Honestly, I am not sure how much blame you can put on Lewan here. He’s a very good run blocker – aggressive, instinctive, etc. And was perhaps Michigan’s best player overall.
Lewan would be a fine fit in Miami’s zone-blocking scheme – we’ll see if that’s still the scheme Miami will be using next season. Hell, the kid would be a solid fit in any scheme offensively. His athletic nature, and large stature surely makes him an intriguing option for Miami if he’s still on the board when Miami is on the clock with pick # 19.