Michigan LT Taylor Lewan to file with NFL Draft advisory board
ANN ARBOR -- Taylor Lewan anchored the critical left tackle position for Michigan this season, the lone bright spot for a unit that endured significant struggles.
The junior was so good, in fact, that he's being projected as a consensus top-15 draft prospect and is among the top-10 players according to many analysts.
The question, then, is will he make the jump?
Coach Brady Hoke said Monday he expects Lewan to submit for the NFL Draft advisory board, which provides underclassmen with information about their pro stock. The process is non-binding, which means Lewan can return to school if he wishes.
"We’ll talk about it this week," Hoke said. "We’ve done our due diligence, sent all the information in that we need to."
“I’m going to gear the young man toward what’s best for him.”
Quarterback Denard Robinson and cornerback J.T. Floyd went through a similar process last year, but both elected to return for their senior seasons. Robinson is being projected as high as a second-round prospect this year, but at a position other than quarterback.
Hoke said he doesn't expect any other players to file with the board this year.
Lewan is a 6-foot-8, 309-pound junior from Scottsdale, Ariz. He has started 27 consecutive games for the Wolverines, often through injury, and has been a steady force protecting his quarterbacks' blind side the past three years.
He was named the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year on Monday, and was named first-team all-league by the coaches and media.
Draft analysts rave about Lewan's frame and quickness, some even comparing him to Jake Long. The former Michigan All-American was taken No. 1 overall in the 2008 draft.
Lewan isn't expected to go that high, but he's not far behind. Sports Illustrated pegs him as the No. 1 offensive prospect, and No. 5 player overall. Tony Pauline writes:
The Wolverines have a history of placing talented left tackles into the NFL, and Lewan is one of the best in recent memory. He is not as dominant as former Wolverine Jake Long, but Lewan is more athletic and much better blocking in motion.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. slots Lewan No. 8 on his latest big board, and has said he could climb as high as No. 6. Kiper writes:
Was going to be very good if he reached physical potential, and he's getting there. Elite athleticism for the position. Has great length and the ability to really move. Could get more credit for his power as a run-blocker, as his long frame probably gets him typecast as a pass-blocker first.
ESPN's Todd McShay isn't quite as high on Lewan, but still projects him as a mid-first round prospect at No. 17. McShay writes:
Lewan is continuing to use his length effectively while protecting the edge. He flashes the ability to drive defenders off the ball as a run-blocker and is a tenacious player who gets under the skin of defenders.
If the draft advisory board affirms those projections, it will be difficult for Lewan -- already a fourth-year player after redshirting his freshman season -- to return to school.
Lewan has not spoken about the NFL much during the season, only noting he was focused on completing his junior year.
He said in the summer he already was receiving phone calls from NFL representatives, but wasn't going to think about his future until after the season.
Regardless of Lewan's decision, Michigan is facing a rebuilding year on its offensive line in 2013. It loses left guard Ricky Barnum, center Elliott Mealer and right guard Patrick Omameh to graduation.
The only sure returner at this point is junior right tackle Michael Schofield, pending Lewan's decision.