TITANS GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER
OK, I just want to welcome Taylor Lewan to the Music City. We are excited to have him. As we stated last night, we feel very fortunate that we were able to pick him. We have had several conversations over the last few months and he came in here and visited and we had a great visit. We are looking forward to what he can be for us in the future. With that I'm going to open it up to questions and move forward.
TITANS TACKLE TAYLOR LEWAN
(on what the last 24 hours have been like)
It has been a bunch of different emotions. I'm just unbelievably happy to be here. I wouldn't rather go to another place than Tennessee. I'm just more excited to get going and actually start playing football again.
(on his strengths and what he needs to work on as a player)
As far as my strengths, I think I play very consistent. I think I play through the whistle and I take pride in what I do. It is not just blocking, it is taking care of my quarterback and giving my running back an opportunity to gain yards. As far as things I need to work on, I don't know if there is one specific thing, but more everything. At this craft and at this level when you are playing this game you are never perfect at what you do. You can never actually be perfect, no one ever has a perfect game. I have to work on everything.
(on what other teams showed interest and where he thought he would end up)
I met with a lot of teams. I met with Tampa Bay, New York, Atlanta, Arizona, so I was kind of all over the board there dealing with teams picking as high two and has far back as 20. Before I didn't know where I wanted to go. I wasn't necessarily worried about the number, but no one ever likes to be second best or third best when they're being picked. If I was a third-round pick of the Tennessee Titans or if I was the first tackle off the board I would be ecstatic. Obviously, I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder knowing that I was the third one picked.
(on how much he got to know Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson and how his game compares)
I got to know them pretty well just going through all these visits. Meeting with those guys, they're great guys and they're really good players and I'm proud to be in the same class as them as far as draft class. As far as their games, Greg is a mauler and he is a big guy, 330 pounds, and Jake has a little more finesse. He has great pass set and a great vertical set. I think I see a little bit of myself in both of them just as far as aggression in the run game with Robinson and taking pride in my pass protection.
(on keeping his workout routine through the grueling draft process)
It is definitely not like it is going to be like when you are in college, where you get to work out Monday through Friday, especially when you are meeting with teams and flying all over the place and doing specific things. It is hard staying in hotel rooms and doing a bunch of stuff until failure because the highest weight they have there is 25. It is doing those kinds of things. Staying in shape is absolutely (important) because this last month as been really tough. I'm excited to get here.
(on knowing his situation now and how that helps his mindset)
I don't specifically know my situation yet. I know that I'm now a part of the Tennessee Titans and have a team to represent now and I couldn't be more happy about the team I am going to represent. As far as coming in here and my job and what I need to do, it is you're a first round pick, you want to play and you want to have an impact on this team. I'm coming in here with the idea to compete and win a job. I know there are two tackles that are really good players and well-established, but I'm here to play ball.
(on walking the line between being physical and drawing foolish penalties)
There is definitely a line to each and I think there were a couple of times that I absolutely overstepped it in my career at Michigan. I think there have been times where it might seem like I was just doing it for no reason when really … Devin Gardner was sacked 37 times this past season and 35 of them came from our interior offensive line. When we played Michigan State he was sacked seven times. When you see your quarterback taking hits like that, even if it is not you giving up those sacks, you take it personally. The offensive line is supposed to be a cohesive unit because you're supposed to work together. I have pulled guys facemask … we are actually really good friends now. We were at IMG together and trained for the Combine. I'm going to do some things here and there, and obviously you never want to put the team in position to lose or hurt us in any way, but if I need to be that guy that steps in when my quarterback is getting hit and maybe toss them around a little more than I should, then I'm definitely willing to be that guy.
TITANS HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT
(on if he likes Lewan's mentality as a player)
It's funny, I watched him a little bit this week and just seeing glimpses of him here and there on TV. I think you are already pre-disposed to that and we have gotten a chance to spend some time with him and you like him. You like what the demeanor is, you like what they are all about as a football player. We were obviously excited to get him. Yeah, I think he is handling himself very well. I think when a player sits up here and they say they will represent the Titans in the right way, that is the kind of player you want.
(on if Lewan's athleticism gets overshadowed)
I don't know. To be honest with you Jim, I haven't paid a lot of attention to what has been talked about. I know we felt on our evaluation of him that he was very athletic and it is an emotional game, football is, and he plays with a lot of passion. That group, like Taylor said, has to be a cohesive unit and that is an important piece of it. A lot of the qualities we are looking for at that position, we see him exhibit and we see him talk about. I think that is a big piece of it.
TITANS TACKLE TAYLOR LEWAN
(on if he has to have a switch for when he is on and off the field)
A day after being drafted by the Titans with the 11th overall pick, OT Taylor Lewan arrives at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Donn Jones Photography.com)
There is no doubt about it. There is a way that you need to act on the field and there is a way to act off the field and there is a time and a place for everything. Personally as far as my personality goes, it is real easy to judge me as one of those guys based on how I play football, but that is how most of the public views me, as just a football player. But off the field, I'm not the guy I'm perceived to be. I like to not only represent myself, but as you just talked about representing the Tennessee Titans in a positive manner. That is what I'm here to do.
(on the misperception from the off the field incidents)
Any time you see a person and someone says that another gentleman, another man threatened a woman, it doesn't matter who it is, or if you have ever heard of this person before, you are obviously going to think that person is a bad person. I'm not here to defend either my friend in the situation or the girl. I will say that I never said those things, but my biggest thing is that this is a fresh start for all of us. As far as the fans of the Titans go, give me the opportunity to prove myself or prove myself wrong.
(on being a 17-year old kid dealing with the allegations)
It is uncomfortable. I think the uncomfortable thing about it, is that someone said you threatened somebody, especially a woman. There are gold rules, and you don't do that. To know that my mom hears these things and she is my mother. She doesn't want to hear those things and she raised me much better than that.
(on what he said to his mother during the process)
During the process, she was really more worried about Brendan in that situation and going through that stuff. I'm not here to defend either one of them, but she kind of let me take care of it. I was a big boy and I was out of the house and all that. There was a reason why it was dropped in 2009 and the police dropped all that stuff. I'm not going to get into too many details just because I want to be sensitive towards the situation obviously because it is still really fresh in a lot of people's minds.
TACKLE TAYLOR LEWAN
(on why teammates would apparently make comments like that)
I never heard somebody say … When the investigation was opened back up with the University of Michigan, I never heard anybody really … That was never brought up that a teammate said that I would say those things. I can't think of a reason why they would do that. When it comes to my teammates and my friends, I'm about as loyal as a dog. I can't imagine why anyone would say that.
(on how much he had to sell himself to teams at the combine and in visits)
I think you're selling yourself regardless. That's what the combine is. It's an underwear show and also doing a bunch of speed dating with a bunch of teams. It's constantly selling yourself and those things. Yeah, there's obviously red flags there. If I was these two, I would absolutely have red flags when you first hear those things, but one of the reasons they picked me is because they don't believe I'm that kind of person. Or I'd like to think that.
GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER
(on dealing with the off-field questions)
We do a lot of work, especially when you're talking about the first pick. It's not surface work. It's a lot of in-depth work by our scouts and security people, the league, everybody. We did our work. He came in here. We spent time with him here. We spent time with him at the combine. I don't think we really could have done much else. You have to make decisions, and you get this information. With these guys, there's always a lot of things out there. Some you find true, and some you find not true. I think you just have to work through it and get your best feel for the player. What kind of person is he? What kind of teammate is he? When we went through our work, we felt very good about it. I think people at the University of Michigan feel very good about him, and that's what we went off of.
(on if he would have not drafted somebody if he believed the allegations to be true)
If I would have found it to be true, I would have had grave concerns, yeah. I would have had to talk very in-depth to that person. But we didn't find that to be true, and we just made a decision. It's tough sometimes for college kids, especially athletes, when they stand out in public places. They seem to always be the ones to get noticed, and he's a very noticeable person. No, we feel good about Taylor and the direction he's going to take our team, and I think the city of Nashville is going to feel good about him too.
TACKLE TAYLOR LEWAN
(on how good it makes him feel to have a general manager and coach who believe in his character)
It means the world to me. I said before I didn't say those things and do those specific things. But just to know when you sit down and talk with me for 15 minutes, it might be a little difficult to see me saying those things. I think that's what happened here. We sat down, and we had a conversation. They were very frank with me. They said, 'Did you do this, this and this?' And it was almost as simple as yes and no, and then we also went in depth with it.
(on if he feels pressure because of the legacy of Michigan tackles, and if he leans on those players for advice and help)
As far as pressure goes, the only pressure I have is representing the Tennessee Titans and doing everything I can to make this place successful and have us win games. That's the only pressure that I have on that account. But as far as learning these things and going through this process, absolutely. I talk to Jake Long all the time about this kind of thing—going through the combine, going through these interviews, what to expect, why do they do certain things. It's easy, especially when you go to a place like the University of Michigan that, like you said, has so much prestige and great offensive linemen, it's easy to lean on those guys because it's kind of like a big fraternity; everyone's got your back.
(on whether or not it is true that he had a pig in college)
That is true. A couple of my bosses right next to me can call me out on that right now. It's fine. Me and a bunch of the offensive linemen in the house thought it would be a good idea to get a pig. It was a horrible idea. He was a bad pig. But we brought him to the humane society, and he's in a better place now.
(on how long the pig lasted)
Less than two weeks.
(on the issues surrounding the pig)
We had like a living room, and his hooves couldn't handle the tile really well, so he was kind of confined to this rug. Then he became really territorial over this rug. So getting from the downstairs to the kitchen was like a scene from the movie 300 with this pig. It was bad.
(on the name of the pig)
It was Dr. Hamlet III. I feel like my professionalism is going out the window right now.
(on if he might get a pig once he is living in Nashville)
No, I don't think so. I have a dog. I'm happy with my dog, so I'm good.
(on how much his transition from defensive line to offensive line helped his athleticism)
To be honest, I don't know where my athleticism came from. My first three years in high school, I was this tall, awkward, skinny, fat-looking guy. I tried really hard, but I was a terrible defensive lineman. My dad told me, 'You're 6-7. You're 245 pounds. You have the body to play left tackle. Why not go down with this kid, number 16 in the country, has all these offers. Go down and get noticed.' That's kind of one of the things I did, and it kind of just ended up working out. As far as the athleticism and speed goes, it kind of just happened. I'm not going to lie. It worked out. I did the things I was supposed to do, and I'm happy to be here.
GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER
(on the balance between instant impact and long-term success)
Well, there is a balance there, and some of that is going to be up to him and the situation. But the thing with drafting players is you're trying to build something for the long term. Sometimes you can get lost in getting that short-term guy that helps you Year 1, but maybe over the long haul doesn't. So in my mind, there's certain things you have to have to build a team long term. One of the things is stability in the offensive line, specifically left tackle. We've all been with teams where we didn't have a left tackle, and it's almost like you can't run your offense. In order for us to be consistent long term—and it is important to look at that, and we needed that position down the road. But there is a balance there. We all want the guy to come in here and be rookie of the year, but most importantly, we want him to have a 10-year career with the Titans.
(on how that affects the next six rounds of the draft)
We'll get as many good players that can help us now and in the future as we can. I'd love for them to step up and help us now and make a difference in our team, and hopefully we'll be able to do that.
TACKLE TAYLOR LEWAN
(on if the thought of the jump from college to the NFL is intimidating or exciting)
No, it's something that excites me, the idea of competition, going against the best of the best. It's an unbelievable feeling. I truly can't wait to get started.
(on his biggest curiosity entering the NFL)
My biggest curiosity would probably be just the speed of everything. Obviously that jump from high school to college is significant, just like this one will be. It's just getting used to it for a couple days, and eventually it just kind of turns into football.
(on if he knows what jersey number he will wear)
I do not.
(on what jersey number he wants to wear) I would like to wear 77, just because that's the number I wore. But honestly I'll wear 13. It doesn't matter. I'll wear whatever number you want me to wear.