Before Jon Robinson took over as the Tennessee Titans GM, the previous decade of draft classes included an embarrassing number of misses. Taylor Lewan was one of the rare hits and the left tackle has had a great career in Nashville.
After sitting for most of the season behind All-Pro left tackle Michael Roos, Lewan worked his way into the lineup late as a rookie. By his next season, he was one of the best left tackles in the NFL, and by his third season, he made it to his first Pro Bowl.
It isn’t easy to make the Pro Bowl now, but it was especially hard in this era because this was back when Joe Thomas and Andrew Whitworth were both in the AFC North. That means that you had to be the next best guy after two likely Hall of Famers.
Lewan went to three-straight Pro Bowls and quickly earned a reputation as one of the best and nastiest left tackles in the NFL.
Unfortunately, before his sixth season, he was suspended for four games after testing positive for PEDs, which made him ineligible for the Pro Bowl. In his seventh season, he suffered an ACL injury after a strong start to the year after only five games.
Last season (year eight for Lewan), was a struggle where he never seemed to have his legs underneath him and he clearly wasn’t 100%, which happens often with players recovering from ACL tears.
While his career began on a potentially Hall of Fame pace, his struggles over the last three seasons have really hurt his reputation. That is why he was left out of ESPN’s top-10 list of offensive tackles this year.
Make-or-break year for Taylor Lewan and the Tennessee Titans
There are so many veterans who are going to be under the microscope, specifically on offense.
Ryan Tannehill has to elevate a group of pass catchers that he has no chemistry with at this point and he has to win playoff games otherwise fans will continue to focus on him as the team’s biggest weakness. It doesn’t matter whether he is the only player healthy on offense again, or if the team is winning games, this fan base wants playoff wins and if they don’t get them they are taking their complaints directly to the QB regardless of whether it is his fault or not.
Derrick Henry is making a lot of money for a 28-year-old running back who has averaged 2.7 yards per attempt in the playoffs over the last two seasons. He still has a chance to be the best back in Tennessee Titans history if he can bounce back, but it is going to be a massive season for Henry. Will he be a Titan for life, or will he fall into the same situation that happened with Eddie George and Chris Johnson?
However, no matter how the season goes down for the Tennessee Titans, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry will be starters next season even if that isn’t in Nashville. For Taylor Lewan, that isn’t necessarily the case.
A bad season could mean that he is seen as a player who needs to battle for a position on a one-year prove-it deal. Just look at what an AFC scout said about Lewan in ESPN’s article.
But he turns 31 later this month, hasn’t made a Pro Bowl since 2018 and has missed 16 games over the past two seasons. “He’s still living off his name a bit,” a veteran AFC scout said. “The overall body of work and performance hasn’t been there recently.”
Now there is good news about Lewan and the Tennessee Titans offense as a whole this year. He should be fully healthy this season, the coaching staff should be better this year, and the offense should be healthier which means that he doesn’t need to be an elite player to be effective.
This list was also definitely not conclusive, and the league-wide perception may be higher on the left tackle than it looks on paper. Out of the tackles who made the top-10 list, more than half of the list (6 players) had voters who didn’t rank them inside their personal top-10 list.
That means that one scout ranking a guy like Ronnie Stanley as the second-best offensive tackle in the league pushed him into the top-10, despite the fact that at least one person didn’t have him on their top-10 list at all.
The fact that Lewan showed up means that he at least had someone voting for him to be a top-10 tackle last year.
If he has a good season and looks anywhere close to what he was in the first half of his career, then he could get a massive contract for a team needing a left tackle for the next three or four years. It would be hard to imagine that he would stay with the Tennessee Titans next year if they like what they see from second-year tackle Dillon Radunz and rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere, but that is a question mark heading into the season.
Either way, this is a season where Lewan can set himself up for another $50-$80 million over the course of his career or he could end up fighting tooth and nail for a job next year. Whether he booms or busts this season, this is going to be the most motivated we have seen Lewan since the days when he was getting in people’s faces and taunting the likes of Josh Norman and Jalen Ramsey. You remember, the good old days.