May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Taylor Lewan (Michigan) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number eleven overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Tennessee Titans at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans: Taylor Lewan Isn't Bad Pick at No. 11


Drafting strategies. There’s best player available. Then there’s best player available at position of need.

With the No. 11 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans used somewhat of a tweener stance: best player available at position of ‘future‘ need.

Fans waited anxiously as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell approached the podium. The previous three picks were players whom many had mock-drafted to Tennessee: cornerback Justin Gilbert, outside linebacker Anthony Barr, and tight end Eric Ebron. Fans who had dreams of a new franchise quarterback and face of the franchise envisioned either Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater competing with Jake Locker for the 2014 starting quarterback job.

The Titans drafted Taylor Lewan, offensive tackle, University of Michigan. Most analysts had Lewan competing with Jake Matthews as the No. 2 offensive tackle in this draft. This is the second consecutive draft that Tennessee had drafted an offensive lineman in Round 1. In 2013, they used the No. 10 pick on Chance Warmack, offensive guard, Alabama.

Most of the initial reactions weren’t positive. Below are some of the immediate reactions from fans and local media. These responses were some of the most well-behaved ones:

 

 

How does Lewan fit with the Ken Whisenhunt-coached Titans? The Titans already have left tackle Michael Roos, who’ll turn 32 next October. They just gave approximately $9.5 million guaranteed to Michael Oher, who’s expected to start at right tackle.

There lies the problem for most fans: Lewan may not offer enough of a Year 1 contribution. Before Oher was signed, some fans who were trashing this pick were praising the idea of adding Lewan as Stewart’s short-term replacement and Roo’s long-term replacement. With Roos and Oher, Lewan may have to sit a year before he gets his opportunity.

Lewan very well may end up as the best offensive tackle in this draft class. He has a nastiness that will remind Titans fans of a younger David Stewart. He’s a more polished pass-blocker than the projected No. 1 offensive tackle, Greg Robinson. Lewan should develop into a left tackle who protects his quarterback from Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt, or any other young AFC South pass-rusher.

Fans feared the idea of Clowney wreaking havoc against Tennessee. Now fans express anger at the organization for having the foresight to deal with this long-term issue. What better way to contain an elite defensive end prospect than with an elite offensive tackle prospect?

The Texans have a quarterback killer for the next decade? Now the Titans have a quarterback protector for the next decade. At age 32 in October, Roos doesn’t have much time left. Look at how much Stewart fell off these last couple of seasons. While Roos hasn’t dropped off as quickly, his play has also regressed from his 20s. Just watch him against the Kansas City Chiefs. Roos isn’t the immovable object that he once was. Aging won’t improve that.

Drafting Lewan doesn’t give this team what I considered as their No. 1 need in my draft needs assessment: playmakers. That’s okay. They’ll have Rounds 2-7 to correct that issue. Lewan gives them long-term security toward allowing those playmakers to make a difference. Jake Locker or no Jake Locker, injury-prone quarterback or no injury-prone quarterback, the Titans can’t have a bad left tackle in this division. Lewan surrendered zero sacks during the 2013 college football season.

It’s an unsexy pick. That doesn’t mean that the Titans drafted a bad player. It’s a great fit. People may hate this move now but it’ll pay off in the long haul.

 

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  • Matt Farris

    He’ll see plenty of time this year. I can see him spelling both tackles as a fresh body in the 2nd half down the stretch. Also you never know when you’re an injury away from starting. Regardless I think you’re spot on about his long term value and Titan fans will be praising Lewan in years to come when he’s battling clowney. I just think as a fellow titans fan that we have a knee jerk desire to grab a flashy pick just so someone on the air waives will actually achnowlege our existence as a franchise. 2 first round linemen in back to back years won’t have anyone talking but it will shore up a future top offensive line for the future which is invaluable for a young QB, WR’s, and eventual Running Back.
    Not mad at all! Go Titans

    • Joshua Huffman

      Very true. Roos gets injured and suddenly they had Oher or Stingily protecting Locker’s blindside.

  • Gary

    This was a very smart pick. Not sexy but shows the Titans are taking a very intelligent approach to building this team from the inside out. Lewan could be a franchise LT for the next 10 years and protect the blindside of who ever ends up being the QB of the future. Also, this could help bring the run game back to Tennessee.