NFL Nation: Taylor Lewan

Titans Camp Report: Day 12

August, 6, 2014
Aug 6
1:41
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tennessee Titans training camp:
  • Defensive linemen Mike Martin (hamstring) and Antonio Johnson (knee) remain out. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt said Martin could miss Saturday’s preseason opener against Green Bay and that Johnson has more of a chance to play.
  • Taylor Lewan's No. 77 jersey was missing his last name. He said he was not in trouble or anything. Fifteen minutes before practice he discovered his jersey was missing.
  • Cornerback Tommie Campbell has struggled throughout camp, but he had a much better day. He ran deep with receiver Nate Washington on one play and was close enough to cause an incompletion. He batted away another pass by Jake Locker for Washington in the end zone during red-zone work.
  • Tight end Craig Stevens does a lot of unnoticed dirty work as a blocker. He had some nice opportunities in the passing game and took advantage. He caught a throw in the red zone from Locker at the goalpost and had a leaping catch in the end zone.
  • I watched Locker closely in one red-zone period. He hit Washington, dropped a snap for a fumble that killed a play, hit Washington in the end zone, hit Stevens for that leaping touchdown and saw Campbell bat that pass away from Washington.
  • The Titans went live (with tackling) for a goal-line snap and running back Shonn Greene plowed forward and got into the end zone from the 2-yard line. On the next snap, not live, Bishop Sankey was going straight ahead, made a sharp cut right and slid around the one guy with a chance of keeping him out of the end zone. Very nice.
  • We saw some kickoffs. Maikon Bonani put one through the end zone and had another high one come down halfway into the end zone. Travis Coons took one and hit a liner that landed at the goal line and looked like a long squib kick.
  • All 2-minute drive work ended with field goals: Bonani hit from 40, Coons hit from 49 (with a low liner), Bonani hit from 48.
  • Whisenhunt missed Ri'Shard Anderson swinging his helmet at a member of the Falcons during a scrap Monday. The coach said if he had seen it, Anderson would have been pulled.
  • The Titans practice at 2:50 local time Thursday. It is closed to the public.

Titans Camp Report: Day 2

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
8:02
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tennessee Titans training camp:
  • In one-on-ones with receivers against defensive backs, undrafted rookie wideout Julian Horton matched up against undrafted rookie corner Ri'Shard Anderson. Jake Locker's pass sailed further downfield than where Horton had broken to the sideline. As Anderson looked back after the ball went incomplete, Locker pointed to where he should have been. That’s not vocal, but it did illustrate the sort of ownership and willingness to be heard that Locker said he’s been more reluctant to show in the past.
  • There was a stiff wind that had a bearing on a lot of passes. Charlie Whitehurst looked most affected by it to me, particularly on some deep balls in one-on-ones where he chose to put a lot of air under passes. Even Zach Mettenberger, the strongest-armed quarterback on the team, threw some wobblers. Ken Whisenhunt said he was happy with the wind, because the Titans were sure to get something like it on a game day at some point. Long-time assistant equipment man Matt Thompson has always shown a big arm. He made one of the day’s best throws when Leon Washington needed a ball in the end zone to bring out as the team worked on return positioning. It was over 40 yards in the air, a rope with a nice arc and plenty of zip.
  • Whisenhunt said more cover-2 was as big a reason for the reduction in deep completions from Day 1 to Day 2 as the wind. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said no deep balls have been a theme since he joined the team and he was glad the offense hit them on the first day so he could say “this is what we’re talking about” to the defense.
  • There were some big mismatches where the matchups got out of sync. I guess the lesser player in Justin Hunter vs. Anderson and Rico Richardson vs. Coty Sensabaugh has a lot to learn from such a snap. But I liked when Tommie Campbell stepped on the field, replacing Khalid Wooten, for a snap against Justin Hunter. Campbell struggled against Marc Mariani on Saturday and had a tough time again, particularly in some snaps against Hunter.
  • Blidi Wreh-Wilson got the second day work as the second starting cornerback, after Sensabaugh had it on Saturday. Wreh-Wilson stuck with Hunter on a deep route early in seven-on-seven and Locker looked to want to go there, but ended up checking down.
  • Taylor Lewan got the bulk of the work as the starting left guard with Andy Levitre (appendix) out and Byron Stingily heading inside to deal with sickness.
  • Michael Preston worked higher in the receiver pecking order on Day 2, and Mariani was lower.
  • Whisenhunt said at the start that competitive positions wouldn’t see the same guy at the front of the line for multiple days. That bodes well for the status of Jackie Battle, who was the front-liner at fullback ahead of Collin Mooney again on Sunday.
  • Locker was running comfortably and without any hesitation. In one team period, he pulled it down after seeing nothing to his liking and ran up the middle, threw a completion along the right sideline to Nate Washington after rolling right and also rolled left and took off that direction. There was nothing to suggest his surgically repaired foot was any sort of issue.
  • Nate Washington returned to the receiver group jawing hard at cornerback Micah Pellerin, telling him not to do that and “if you’re beat, you’re beat.” Pellerin dropped a pick of Whitehurst on a throw Whitehurst didn’t seem to step into as strongly as he could have.
  • Second team defense: LE Al Woods, NT Antonio Johnson, RE Mike Martin, LOLB Shaun Phillips, ILB Zaviar Gooden, ILB Colin McCarthy, ROLB Akeem Ayers, LCB Tommie Campbell, S George Wilson, S Daimion Stafford, RCB Sensabaugh.
  • Washington, Dexter McCluster, Bishop Sankey and Mariani didn’t field balls, but each brought balls out of the end zone in a kickoff return period.
  • Kendall Wright made a nice sliding catch in traffic in front of Sensabaugh.
  • Stafford picked off a Tyler Wilson pass for tight end Jason Schepler.
  • Bernard Pollard was busting on Zach Mettenberger from the sideline as Mettenberger led the offense, shouting "Roll Tide." That's what someone said to Metenberger recently before sucker punching the former LSU player at a Nashville bar.
If Titans tackle Taylor Lewan threw a punch or punches worthy of a conviction on pending assault charges in Michigan, the security video from the scene is not likely to be the conclusive piece of evidence against him.

Through a Freedom of Information act request, MLive obtained the video and the police report.

The lead investigator wrote that it doesn’t clearly show Lewan’s actions.

“I attempted to follow the movement of Lewan, however, I cannot say with certainty whether he was involved in physically assaulting someone, based on the recording,” Ann Arbor police detective Dave Monroe wrote in the report.

I don’t see any way anything on that video can be regarded as conclusive.

Lewan maintains he was a peacemaker.

On May 19, the case against Lewan was adjourned for four weeks. He now has a hearing scheduled for June 16, the day before the Titans kick off the three-day minicamp that concludes their offseason work.

Titans offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
May 23
10:00
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» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Tennessee Titans' offseason moves.

Best move: You might call it a cop-out, but the biggest and most significant upgrade the Titans made is the new coaching staff. With head coach Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton as the offensive and defensive playcallers, respectively, this team is going to have smarter plans on Sundays than it did during the past three seasons. It will also adjust better as a game unfolds. It’s hard to rate some of the talent until we see how those guys and their deputies assess and deploy it.

[+] EnlargeJake Locker
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderThe Titans will take their chances with Jake Locker as the starting quarterback again this season.
Riskiest move: Sticking with Jake Locker as the quarterback and not at least creating a situation where he has to win the job. I know it’s not like there was an obvious alternative, and just three seasons after they overreached on Locker in the draft it would have been a big mistake to overreach again. But I like to think that if they had seen a good alternative, they would have made a move. It's hard to have much faith in Locker, given his injury history, and there is no assurance he will be able to grasp the new offense quickly.

Most surprising move: We knew they were thinking about the left tackle situation beyond 2014, and their rationale for picking Taylor Lewan 11th overall is sound. Still, he’s not guaranteed to be in position to contribute in 2014. If he does, then a well-paid veteran tackle -- free-agent addition Michael Oher or nine-year stalwart Michael Roos -- won’t be playing. It is easy to argue that a team that was 7-9 and has a new staff and systems could have found a guy guaranteed to have first-year impact in the first round.

I’m not arguing: The Titans survived the Pacman Jones disaster thanks to seventh-round pick Cortland Finnegan. They replaced Finnegan with fourth-round pick Alterraun Verner. Now they will replace Verner with either 2013 third-round pick Blidi Wreh-Wilson or 2012 fourth-round pick Coty Sensabaugh. The franchise's cornerback succession plans have been sound. It should be able to have a third- or fourth-round pick be a better-than-functional starter as it moves forward.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt rated it at least a two-club wind at the Tennessee Titans' practice fields on Friday.

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger
Mark Humphrey/AP PhotoQB Zach Mettenberger warms up prior to throwing drills during the Titans' rookie minicamp on Friday.
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, the Titans' sixth-round pick, still lacks strength in his surgically repaired knee and will throw better when's he's all the way back. Still, his throws cut easily through the crosswind in the first of three days of rookie minicamp practices.

We knew Mettenberger would enter the NFL as a big pocket passer with a big arm. But this was the first time we got to see him with a Titans logo on his helmet slinging it in Nashville.

"I did a lot of good things," he said. "I'm still not moving as fluidly as I have in the past, but I am working every day to get back there."

Among the good things: A first-play completion of a bomb.

He said he doesn't have any limitations, but that the training staff is working to modify his workload to prevent any further issues with his knee.

Whisenhunt spoke of Mettenberger needing to continue to rebuild strength.

Said Mettenberger: "It's not (all the way) there. Being in a brace for two months, trying to learn how to walk, you lose a lot of muscle down in the thigh. ...You throw with your feet first and foremost, if you're under good balance and can (transfer) weight and do that efficiently, it makes the ball come out a lot better. I did OK today throwing, but as my leg gets better I fully expect to throw better."

As for the steady wind, he said it was nothing like the wind in Kansas, "but it was pretty bad today."

Whisenhunt complimented Mettenberger's command of the huddle and said things were not too big for the rookie.

First-round pick Taylor Lewan, a left tackle who also got a bit of work on the right, is fired up to be working with Mettenberger.

"He's an absolute stud," Lewan said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans have had a couple quality mauling offensive tackles during their time in Tennessee.

[+] EnlargeTaylor Lewan
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesThe Titans' Mike Martin said he's confident that Taylor Lewan, his former teammate at Michigan, won't present the team with any off-field issues.
Jon Runyan and David Stewart were right tackles who didn’t have the feet and movement skills that make new first-round pick Taylor Lewan a left tackle.

The nasty streak in Lewan is akin to what Runyan and Stewart brought. And it’s something the Titans may need to monitor.

While it makes Lewan a quality offensive lineman, it may have also contributed to him allegedly threatening to rape a classmate at Michigan and face three misdemeanor charges stemming from a campus fight.

“You have to have a certain mentality on the field if you’re going to be that physical guy because people are going to challenge you,” said Runyan, now a United States Representative from New Jersey’s 3rd district.

Runyan knows Lewan as the two both played for the Wolverines. The second-term Congressman spoke to The Midday 180 in Nashville on Thursday.

“You’ve got to basically do your stuff, you’ve got to take your shots in there at them, and push them around a little bit and truly just be a jerk on the field. But you can’t live in society like that because you’ll wind up being locked up. So you’ve got to be able to have the ability to turn it on and off and I really think the really good players, the people who are going to ply, a lot of the time have that ability and I think Taylor has it.”

Lewan agreed with Runyon’s idea.

“There is no doubt about it, there is a way you need to act on the field and there is a way to act off the field,” he said. “There is a time and a place for everything. Personally, as far as my personality goes, it’s really easy to judge me as one of those guys based on how I play football, because that’s how most of the public sees me. As just a football player. But off the field, I’m not the guy I’m perceived to be.”

As a player, Lewan said he felt he had to walk a line at time where he made it clear he would protect his quarterback. He admits to overstepping it at times during his college career.

“Yeah, I’m going to do some things here and there,” Lewan said. “Obviously you never want to put the team in a position to lose or hurt us in any way but if I have to be that guy that steps in when a quarterback is getting hit and maybe tossed around a little more than he should, then I am definitely willing to be that guy.”

One of Lewan’s new teammates is an old Michigan teammate. Defensive lineman Mike Martin was drafted by the Titans out of Michigan in the third round in 2012.

“He’s a Grade A guy and you don’t have to worry about anything with him off the field, I can say that for sure,” Martin said. “I saw him grow and I know for sure firsthand.”

I also spoke to two NFL GMs about the Titans' selection of Lewan.

One said the he liked the tackle and the red flags were "not major."

Said the other: "That guy has so much value at that spot it was a no-brainer"
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In his pre-draft visit with the Titans in Nashville, Taylor Lewan answered for an incident that has him facing a trio of misdemeanor charges. He also addressed a claim that he said something incredibly dumb in relation to a rape accusation against a teammate.

Here is a recent New York Post story detailing things.

“We addressed those with Taylor,” general manager Ruston Webster said. “We addressed them prior. Obviously, we talked about it even today just to make sure. I feel pretty comfortable with where he is. Taylor is a tough guy. I feel pretty comfortable that we’re going to get a solid guy here.”

In a conference call with Nashville media, Lewan was asked about the status of the legal case.

“My off-the-field incident is three assault charges pending right now,” he said. “I kind of gave them the brief story that I was completely breaking things up. I did push guys to get everything out of the way. I never struck a man closed fist or anything of that nature. The thing is, I explained to them everything and told them the truth. That’s what it was.

“I’m happy that they believed me. I’m happy that they believed in my character, the kind of person I am. My job is to not do reckless things off the field. My job is to make sure my quarterback is safe and my running backs are in good positions to gain yards.”
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A flashy Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback with a catchy nickname sat drinking a cup of water when the Tennessee Titans went on the clock for the 11th pick in the NFL draft.

The Titans were polite when they talked of passing on Johnny Manziel, but they didn't hesitate to grab Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan, even as Michael Roos and Michael Oher are already on their roster.

The flash will have to come another time.

Lewan
General manager Ruston Webster recalled how he was part of the Seahawks front office that mistakenly presumed it would be able to replace eventual Hall of Famer Walter Jones. Webster didn't want to be party to that again, felt there were three great left tackles in this draft and happily selected the third one.

The Titans get a nasty player who will be a tone-setter as longtime right tackle David Stewart had been.

“My job is to make sure my quarterback is safe and my running back is in position to gain yards,” Lewan told Nashville media in a conference call.

The Titans will have a crowd at the tackle position -- for a year.

Incumbent left tackle Roos turns 32 in October and is entering the final year of his deal. Free-agent acquisition Oher got $20 million for four years but could be cut loose after one year and an investment of just $6 million.

So, does Lewan bring immediate impact? He can, but he might not. Will he deliver long-term stability? The Titans sure think so.

The other options at 11 might not have been as good.

The Titans were probably not going to draft a first-round quarterback no matter what. Two guys I believe they liked, outside linebacker Anthony Barr and tight end Eric Ebron, disappeared the two picks before.

So they went offensive line again a year after Alabama guard Chance Warmack was the 10th pick overall.

How did Lewan earn his reputation?

“By playing nasty, by playing through the whistle and trying to put guys in the dirt every single time,” he said. “Whether it's [Jadeveon] Clowney or some slappy on third team off some random team, I don't care who I am going against, I am going to play at the level that I need to play at no matter what. That's just the kind of person I am.”
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The pick: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

My take: It’s not sexy by any means. And Lewan might not even be a starter in 2014, though he will have a shot to beat out Michael Oher at right tackle. In 2015, Michael Roos could move on as a free agent and Lewan could take over, probably seamlessly after a year of seasoning. Foundation-building is important for new regimes. General manager Ruston Webster started it last year in the draft by taking guard Chance Warmack in the first round and center Brian Schwenke in the fourth.

Near misses: The Titans could have liked outside linebacker Anthony Barr and tight end Eric Ebron, but they were selected by Minnesota and Detroit, respectively, with the two picks right before Tennessee went on the clock. The Titans had some conviction on Lewan, as Adam Schefter said the team passed on an offer from Cleveland to trade down.

What’s next: The Titans pick 42nd in the second round. They don't have a third-rounder.
PITTSBURGH – It's hard to imagine a scenario in which the Pittsburgh Steelers don't use their first-round pick on a cornerback.

But it's not impossible.

One of the left tackles could slip to No. 15 and tempt the Steelers. Anthony Barr fell to the Steelers in the ESPN NFL Nation mock draft held earlier this week, and I grabbed the UCLA outside linebacker after also considering Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller and LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Barr had 23 sacks in two season while learning to play outside linebacker on the fly. He is a playmaker who has a tremendous upside, and the Steelers need to bolster their pass rush.

The problem is I don't think Barr will be available at No. 15. I think Beckham is gone before then too with a team likely trading up to draft him.

That leads me back to cornerback and I think the Steelers will be thrilled if they have their choice of Fuller and Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard.

Both are good fits for the Steelers and I think they would be happy with either one. If they have a choice I think the Steelers take Fuller. He is a little bigger and probably has better ball skills than Dennard.

But really it could be a coin flip between the two and the Steelers would love nothing more than if they have to choose between Dennard and Fuller.

I say they do and that they opt for Fuller.

MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Minnesota Vikings finally get on the clock with the No. 8 overall pick, sometime around 9:30 ET/8:30 CT on Thursday night, they'll be in possession of a pick that has seemingly vexed the draft experts for a while now. At No. 8, the Vikings could be too late to take the standout defensive players in the draft (South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and Buffalo's Khalil Mack), in little need of the offensive tackles at the top of the board (Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, Auburn's Greg Robinson and Michigan's Taylor Lewan) and unsure about the reliability of the quarterbacks they might find there (Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater).

It's part of the reason there's a wide range of opinions in today's final round of mock drafts -- ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Insider and Todd McShay Insider have the Vikings taking Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert, respectively, and the rest of the mocks have a wide range of names, from Bortles to Bridgewater to Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and linebacker C.J. Mosley to Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. The Vikings have enough needs, and the draft is deep enough, that they're not likely to have any shortage of options at No. 8, but in an important draft for Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and the first one for new coach Mike Zimmer, the pick is an important one to get right.

So which direction will the Vikings take? Here's our best guess, in order from most to least likely, about the way they'll approach the eighth pick on Thursday night:

1. Draft a defensive player

The most compelling decision the Vikings could face on Thursday night might happen if the top quarterbacks, such as Bortles and Manziel, are still on the board and the team has to decide whether to pass on one of them to take a defensive player. If presented with that decision, the Vikings will indeed opt for defense, I believe. I had them selecting Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard in our ESPN NFL Nation mock (albeit after trading down one spot), but I could have taken Bortles with the eighth pick and didn't. The Vikings will have enough quarterback options later in this draft, and they were in bad enough need of a talent upgrade on defense, that I think they'll ultimately address that side of the ball if they stay at No. 8. It could be by taking one of the cornerbacks, such as Dennard or Gilbert. It could be by taking Donald (and sorting out where he'll fit with Sharrif Floyd later), or it could be by drafting a linebacker such as Mosley or UCLA's Anthony Barr. Ultimately, though, I believe the Vikings will help their defense first and come back for a QB later.

2. Trade down

My approach in our NFL Nation mock draft was ultimately a hybrid of No. 1 and 2, but I would have moved back further if there had been a market to do so. The Vikings might be able to find that market -- Spielman said on Tuesday he'd already heard from suitors for several of his picks, and moving out of the No. 8 spot would help him reach the sum of 10 picks the general manager likes to have. The Vikings might still be able to get a defensive player that makes sense after moving back several picks, and they'd also have the flexibility to deal back into the first round, like they've done each of the past two years. I had them doing that in our mock draft, moving up to No. 31 to select Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr. Even if the Vikings move back into the first round, they could benefit from extra picks on the first two days of a deep draft.

3. Select a quarterback

If I had to place a percentage on the likelihood of this happening, I'd put it somewhere around 30 or so; as we've discussed, the Vikings could find enough other options later that they'd have to be completely enamored with one of the top QBs to take him at No. 8. Of the top quarterbacks, Bortles seems like the best fit for Norv Turner's offense, though there's been some steam around Bridgewater in the last few days. One Vikings coach told ESPN's Bob Holtzman, though, that it's "highly unlikely we take a quarterback."

4. Find another weapon for the offense

After Spielman mentioned on Tuesday that the mock drafts were missing some names the Vikings could consider at No. 8, we discussed Evans as a possible option. The threshold would have to be high for the Vikings to take a player like Evans (or, if he slides far enough, Clemson's Sammy Watkins) when they still need help on defense, but as we discussed, there's a school of thought that the Vikings could keep adding weapons to their offense, in order to keep up with the three high-powered passing games in their division and make things easier for their quarterback, whether that's Matt Cassel or a young player they eventually draft.

5. Trade up

I just don't see this one happening, unless Mack slides far enough that the Vikings can get him without giving away the better part of their draft; Spielman said on Tuesday that mid-round picks are more valuable this year, because of the quality of the draft, and it seems more likely the Vikings will take advantage of that, rather than dealing away several picks to move up. According to the trade value chart many teams use as a rule of thumb on trades, it would probably cost the Vikings their second-round pick, and both of their third-rounders, to jump from No. 8 to No. 3, where they might need to land to get Mack. A move from No. 8 to No. 5, according to the trade chart, would only require the Vikings to give up their second- and fourth-round picks, but I can't see the Vikings moving any higher than that, and any first-round trade up seems like a remote possibility.
Greg RobinsonKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAuburn's Greg Robinson is one of three offensive tackles the Rams will consider for the No. 2 pick.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams could easily throw a curveball tonight with the No. 2 overall pick or in a trade down from that spot, but for now most signs point to the team using their early selection on one of the draft's top offensive tackles.

It's a group that includes Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Michigan's Taylor Lewan, perhaps in that order. All three are rated highly, and one NFC personnel director told me he believes all three players are better than any of the players that went in the tackle-heavy top five of the 2013 NFL draft.

Matthews
Lewan
Robinson has been openly compared to Hall of Famer Larry Allen. Matthews has, of course, been compared to his Hall of Fame father. Lewan has drawn comparisons to current Rams tackle and four-time Pro Bowler Jake Long. Heady company across the board, especially in the case of the first two.

So if you are the Rams and you are almost certain to have your choice from that trio at No. 2, how do you go about choosing which one is best?

For most of the pre-draft process, Matthews has been labeled the polished player with some upside, essentially making him the "safest" choice of the group. Robinson is considered the player with the highest ceiling, an athletic, dominant run blocker with the tools to become a good pass protector, but with the knowledge that he'll take some time in that area. Lewan is a sort of happy medium between the two, possessing outstanding athleticism for his size, and a certain amount of polish as well.

So let's operate under the assumption that the Rams have those tackles graded closely. How do they weigh upside versus polish?

“That discussion would be solved by looking at your depth chart and your roster, where your holes are, where your spots are," Fisher said. "You’ve got a guy that you want that, as you say, is more polished, I’m not putting words in your mouth but you would assume that he would come in and play sooner than the other one that may need a redshirt year, need some time. If you’ve got two guys that would vary a little bit, it would be really dependent on the need spot on your roster.”

In the case of the offensive line, the Rams could use someone capable of playing right away. Entering an important 2014 season, they need more than just contribution, they need production, especially from a potential No. 2 overall pick.

The Rams remain hopeful that Long will be ready to go at the start of the regular season, and they have Joe Barksdale available for the right tackle spot. Rodger Saffold will play one guard spot and Scott Wells is penciled in at center. That leaves a guard job open, but a top tackle could also play the right side to start.

Robinson and Matthews both project as capable of handling guard duties for a year or two before moving to tackle, similar to what Baltimore did with Jonathan Ogden. Lewan is a more natural tackle, but could also probably play inside if he had to.

From there, there are connections to be drawn to all of the tackles with the current Rams regime. Obviously, Fisher goes way back with Matthews, having coached his father in Houston/Tennessee. Robinson played with Fisher's son Trent at Auburn, which doubles as the alma mater of general manager Les Snead. Lewan maintains a close relationship with Long.

All three players figured to land in the top 10.

“I think there’s a chance," Fisher said. "I would assume that those three players, they’re going to be productive and somewhat high picks.”

In the ideal scenario, the Rams could trade down and land one of the tackles after picking up some extra picks. Robinson will likely be drafted first of the three, and if the Rams wanted Matthews they would probably not be able to go any lower than No. 6, though he could go as high as No. 4 to Cleveland. Lewan figures to linger a little longer and would be a solid prize if the Rams got a big offer to move further down.

Determining who the Rams favor here is a guessing game, but in the end, the Rams' preference for taking upside over the safe pick, as they did with the likes of Michael Brockers, Brian Quick and Janoris Jenkins, seems likely to win out leaving Robinson narrowly edging out his competition.
On our weekly Baltimore Ravens chat, I was asked to address the team's different scenarios in the first round: dream, great, good, most realistic and awful. I thought I would share my thoughts in more detail on each throughout today.

Here is the Ravens' dream scenario ... The Ravens draft Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan with the No. 17 overall pick.

Let's be up front about this. The odds of this happening are 100 to 1. This is like the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl. That's what makes it a "dream" scenario.

Lewan is the third-best offensive tackle in this draft behind Auburn's Greg Robinson and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews. He represents the biggest upgrade the Ravens could make at right tackle, the biggest hole on the team. Lewan also has the ability to eventually play left tackle.

So, why would the Ravens have any shot at Lewan? He is dealing with a couple off-the-field issues. His arraignment on one charge of aggravated assault and two charges of assault and battery is currently set for nine days after the draft. Lewan has also denied allegations that he intimidated a woman in 2009 who said she was sexually assaulted by one of his former teammates. These red flags could scare some teams.

Still, it's difficult to put together a mock where Lewan falls out of the first round. Mel Kiper Jr. believes there's a chance he could go as high as No. 2 to the St. Louis Rams. Even if Lewan doesn't go there, he would still need to make it past the Oakland Raiders (No. 5), Atlanta Falcons (No. 6), Buffalo Bills (No. 9), New York Giants (No. 12) and Rams again at No. 13.

The Ravens aren't banking on this happening. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta believes the top four tackles (Robinson, Matthews, Lewan and Notre Dame's Zack Martin) will all be gone before the Ravens are on the clock. If somehow Lewan does slide, it would certainly be a dream come true for the Ravens.
PITTSBURGH -- Given a chance to lobby for a tall wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took a pass.

Roethlisberger
"Anything to help this team," Roethlisberger said on 93.7 The Fan when asked who he thinks the Steelers should draft in the first round. "That’s the mindset we all need to be in because 8-8 is not good enough and we need to get back to the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Whatever the higher powers decide can help this team that’s what I’m going for."

General manager Kevin Colbert has said the Steelers plan to maximize Roethlisberger’s remaining years with the team -- Big Ben said earlier this week that he feels like he can play five to seven more seasons -- by surrounding him with talent.

One former Steelers great said the best way to do that is to bolster the unit that protects the Steelers’ franchise quarterback.

"I think in order for Ben to be successful we have to solidify the offensive line," said Pro Football Hall of Famer Dermontti Dawson. "We have to get a big-threat receiver and we have to get a running game back."

The Steelers won’t take a running back until the third day of the draft since Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount are poised to get the bulk of the carries in 2014. They could take a wide receiver in the first round, though the position is so deep I think the Steelers wait a little later in the draft before addressing it.

Would the Steelers take an offensive tackle with their first-round pick?

The top three tackles in the class -- Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan -- are unlikely to slip to No. 15 in the draft. But Notre Dame’s Zack Martin could be available there, and he may be one of the safer picks in the draft as teams love his temperament and versatility.

ESPN analyst Todd McShay ranks Martin as the ninth-best player in the draft. He also has five tackles among his 16 highest-rated players in the draft (Virginia’s Morgan Moses is the other one).

It’s hard to see the Steelers using the first-round pick on a tackle given how many other needs they have.

But players they weren’t expecting to be available in past drafts have slipped to them so nothing can be ruled out here.
The board has been put together and in a little over 24 hours, the Detroit Lions will be able to see exactly how the NFL draft they have planned for over the past five-plus months will actually shake out.

In explaining his team’s draft process Monday, general manager Martin Mayhew said because the Lions are at the No. 10 spot, they have their initial draft board, will remove the quarterbacks and then have their essential Top 10 to work with Thursday evening.

Other than the obvious that Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins is somewhere on their board, here is one man’s guess of what their Top 10 board could look like come Thursday -- pulling quarterbacks off, of course, since the Lions are not searching for one. Remember, this is just a guess. Detroit has not tipped much of anything off as to what their board would look like.

Watkins
1.Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: The Lions have made no secret about their love for the player who caught 101 passes last season and is considered the top receiver in the draft. The Lions brought him in for a visit, brought his teammate, Martavis Bryant, in for a visit and also brought in his brother, Jaylen Watkins, a defensive back from Florida. They ate with Sammy at his pro day, and Mayhew believes he is a good fit for the organization. The question is whether Detroit could really go and get him as he will be long gone by No. 10.

2.Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: There’s no way Clowney is lower than third on any team’s draft board, and if he is, that team is likely kidding itself. Clowney is a transcendent talent who is the most physically gifted player in this draft and perhaps in the past four or five drafts. For Detroit to get him, it would likely have to trade all the way up to No. 1, but if he somehow fell to No. 3, then it might be worth it to pursue.

3.Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo: The second-best defensive player in the draft also fits a position of need for the Lions. While Watkins is often the talk of most trade-up scenarios, it is Mack who could be the player Detroit could end up targeting in that type of scenario. He is an instant playmaker who is a three-down linebacker and would give the linebacking corps an immediate upgrade in talent and depth.

Evans
4.Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M: Many of the other rumors surrounding Detroit involve a lesser trade-up scenario for Evans, who was Johnny Manziel’s main target with the Aggies. The Lions would likely only have to go up to No. 7 to grab him, so it would cost less in return than Watkins. Lining him up with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate would give the Lions one of the scarier passing games in the NFC.

5.Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn: He is the top tackle in the draft and almost certainly not going to be available for Detroit. If he somehow slipped to the Lions, they would find a way to make it work on the line, most likely moving 2013 left tackle Riley Reiff inside to guard.

6.Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M: Matthews could be available, in theory, depending on how the top of the draft goes, what trades are made and the number of quarterbacks selected. He or Taylor Lewan are often considered the highest rated tackles in the draft behind Robinson.

Dennard
7.Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State: After the top six is where it gets tricky -- and this is likely where the Lions’ pick will come from. Dennard lacks the ideal size defensive coordinator Teryl Austin would like in a cornerback, but he could be the best cover corner in the draft and likely will be the first cornerback off the board Thursday night. Part of why I didn’t consider him in the NFL Nation mock is he wasn’t available as Minnesota took him at No. 9.

8.Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama: Some will think this is high for Clinton-Dix, who I took in the NFL Nation mock draft Tuesday. Former general manager and ESPN analyst Bill Polian panned the pick and said cornerback was the more glaring need. That is a fair assessment, but safety is also a position of need for the Lions and Clinton-Dix is the best safety at a somewhat thin position compared to the rest of the groups in the draft. As I mentioned Tuesday and Wednesday, I believe the Lions will try to trade down.

Donald
9.Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: Not necessarily a position of need for Detroit, but he could very well be the best player available for the Lions at No. 10, and as I mentioned Wednesday, the player I believe the Lions should take at No. 10 if he’s available. Drafting Donald would offer Detroit flexibility on the defensive line, and he has experience in both a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme, which can help in Austin’s defense as he tries to turn it multiple. Plus, he can learn from Ndamukong Suh for a season before potentially stepping into a starting role if Suh or Nick Fairley departs Detroit in 2015.

10.Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech: There are a lot of interesting connections for Fuller with Detroit. Both of his brothers have played for the Lions at some point in their careers. Vincent Fuller was a cornerback for Detroit in 2011 and Corey Fuller was drafted by the Lions last season and is on the roster for 2014. Kyle Fuller has outstanding ball skills, but isn’t as strong in coverage as Dennard.

Next six: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan; Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU; Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame; Anthony Barr, DE/LB, UCLA; Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State; Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina.

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