Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Taylor Lewan ready for big combine
By Pat Yasinskas
Michigan's Taylor Lewan is one of the top offensive linemen in the upcoming NFL draft.
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is a guy with a sense of humor.
That's a good thing because Lewan can laugh at himself as he reflects on the journey that brought him from a high school nose tackle to a likely first-round draft pick as a left tackle.
"Go to YouTube and call up my high school video," Lewan said with a laugh. "It was awful. It was probably one of the worst things you've ever seen in your life."
But no one is laughing at Lewan these days. According to most draft gurus, he's ranked as the third offensive tackle in this year's draft behind Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson. But Lewan could pull ahead of them with a strong showing at the scouting combine.
Not bad for a guy who didn't start playing left tackle until he gladly gave up playing nose tackle at the start of his senior year of high school.
"At the time, I was probably 6-7 and 250 pounds, a leaner guy," Lewan said during a break in training at IMG Academy, where he has been preparing for the combine since early January. "I was going to be a much better left tackle than a nose guard. I would have been lucky to walk on if I kept playing nose guard. I was terrible. I was real bad."
Lewan made the switch and the rest is history. He went to Michigan and became one of the best linemen in the country. He could be a possible consideration for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 7 overall if he can raise his stock with a good showing at the combine. The Bucs may be looking to overhaul their offensive line after it underachieved last season and Lewan could be a nice fit.
"Taylor is similar to some guys that were top draft picks at the tackle position that I've seen in the past," IMG director of football operations Chris Weinke said. "He's probably one of the most athletic guys. I think he's going to surprise some people at the combine with his running times. He’s a technician. As we look at how the game continues to change with the emergence of all these pass-rushers, you need to be solid on the inside but you need athletes on the outside. I think the tackle position is looking for that more athletic big guy and I think Taylor fits that mold perfectly."
Lewan considered coming out last year when some said he would be the top tackle prospect in the draft, but decided against it.
"I was projected to be in the first round," Lewan said. "I thought, if I can get one more year of college, I wanted to be a captain and I wanted to be with my friends for one more year. I have no regrets at all."
Lewan knows he needs a strong showing at the combine to solidify his draft stock. That's why he has been preparing for the event at IMG.
"I think I've really improved my technical running form, my start and my 40," Lewan said. "It's amazing how much science there is. I'm not here to understand science. I'm here to get it done. I think I'm several tenths of a second faster than I was before I got here. I know what's at stake at the combine and I've been taking it very seriously. Anybody that doesn’t take it seriously is dumb."