Rumor mills are swirling as we officially enter into NFL Draft season. This week, Miami Dolphin fans took notice of Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan.
At the beginning of the season, Lewan was considered a top-7 pick, maybe even higher. He drew comparisons to Jake Long and there’s little wrong with that. After a less-than lackluster season for the Wolverines, Lewan’s stock fell, but the combine has brought him back into the conversation. While he isn’t considered a top-7 pick anymore, he’s still thought to be a top half first rounder and a steal if the Dolphins can pull it off.
I’ve watched Lewan closely for the last three years as a student at the University of Michigan. At the beginning of the year he was the hot name, obviously, and everyone considered quarterback Devin Gardner’s blindside to be taken care of. Well, it wasn’t.
The offensive line, while not the only thing wrong with Michigan this season, was definitely the biggest issue. Gardner received no protection and while, yes, there are four other men on the line and Lewan was easily the most impressive, that isn’t saying much.
The Dolphins don’t need another linemen like Lewan. I’m not sold, and neither should Miami be. This past season, Lewan unquestionably regressed and at times went backwards on the maturity scale. He’s considered immature on campus and after Miami’s lineman fiasco is this really what they want? NFL.com’s draft profile on him says he has a quirky personality that can be easily misunderstood. Great, just what we need right now.
On a production level, Lewan’s weaknesses include being highly penalized, needing to not only rely on his natural ability and adapting proper footwork. He also struggled to battle quick, crafty defenders and has a tendency to drop his head at contact. He often got pushed back, shrinking the pocket for Gardner.
And like Ryan Tannehill, Gardner had a tendency this season to hold onto the ball too long and that kind of quarterback isn’t a great fit with Lewan.
Yes, Lewan has talent, don’t get me wrong, but Miami can’t afford to use their first round pick on a lineman who isn’t more polished. Lewan didn’t start playing left tackle until late in high school and I’m not sold on him being ready at a high level in the NFL.
Maybe I’m wrong, and if Miami drafts him, I hope I am, but Lewan isn’t Long. He’s just not.