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Thursday, May 8, 2014
Taylor Lewan pledges nastiness for Titans

By Paul Kuharsky


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.”