Titans Top Pick Taylor Lewan Handles First NFL Blitz


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Taylor Lewan's entry to the NFL was a blitz of a different variety than what he'll work to stymie on Sunday.

Lewan was one of 30 top prospects invited to attend the first night of the draft at New York's Radio City Music Hall and became a Titan when Tennessee selected him with the 11th overall pick. Lewan flew to Nashville Friday so he could be introduced during a press conference. Prior to that session, Lewan quickly worked in individual interviews with television stations. He left Saint Thomas Sports Park shortly after hoisting the jersey for a quick trip to his home in Arizona. The offensive tackle is schedule to return to Nashville next week.

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)

"It's been a bunch of different emotions," Lewan said. "I'm unbelievably happy to be here. I wouldn't rather be any other place than Tennessee. I'm just more excited to get going and actually start playing football again."

Many analysts thought Lewan could have entered the 2013 NFL Draft and been selected near the top, but he opted to return to Michigan and become the ninth four-year starter on the offensive line in Wolverines history. He said Thursday night that the decision was great because of the experiences he had with teammates at Michigan and is ready for the next step.

"It's something that excites me, the competition of going against the best of the best. It's an unbelievable feeling and I truly can't wait to get started," Lewan said. "My biggest curiosity would just be the speed of everything. Obviously, the jump from high school to college is significant, just like this one will be, and it's just getting used to it for a couple of days and then it just kind of turns into football.

"I couldn't be more happy about the team I'm going to represent," he added.

General manager Ruston Webster said the Titans were pleased that Lewan was still available because he thought the 6-foot-7, 309-pounder could have gone off the board sooner. Lewan was the third of five offensive tackles drafted in the top 19 spots (Greg Robinson, 2, St. Louis; Jake Matthews, 6, Atlanta; Zack Martin, 16, Dallas; Ja'Wuan James, 19, Miami).

"I want to welcome Taylor Lewan to Music City. We're excited to have him," Webster said. "As we stated last night, we feel we were very fortunate that we were able to pick him. We've had several conversations over the past few months, and I'm looking forward to what he can be for us in the future."

The Titans have veterans Michael Roos at left tackle and signed right tackle Michael Oher during 2014 free agency, but coach Ken Whisenhunt said Lewan will have an opportunity to compete for playing time. Webster said left tackle is a position where keeping an eye on the future outlook and making a long-term plan is important.

"In my mind, there's certain things you have to have to build a team long-term. One of the things is to build the offensive line, specifically left tackle," Webster said. "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, so in order for us to be consistent long-term, it is important to look at and we need that position down the road. We all want the guy to come in and be rookie of the year, but most importantly, we want him to have a 10-year career with the Titans."

Whisenhunt said he followed some of the experiences Lewan had during this week's festivities before and after the draft.

"I watched him a little bit this week, seeing glimpses of him here and there on TV, but I think you're already predisposed to that when you've gotten a chance to spend some time with him," Whisenhunt said. "You like what the demeanor is, you like what they're all about as a football player, so we were obviously excited to get him and I think he's handling himself very well. I think when a player sits up here and says they represent the Titans the right way, that's the kind of player you want."

Lewan is capable of playing with a mean streak, but he's also quite athletic. He switched from playing defensive end in high school to tackle during his senior season and prospered. Lewan's time of 4.87 seconds in the 40-yard dash and his broad jump of 9 feet, 9 inches were the best of any offensive lineman at the 2014 NFL Combine. He said he struggled at 6-7 and 245 pounds on defense, but the athleticism appeared kind of late. "My first three years in high school, I was this tall, awkward, skinny-fat-looking guy and I tried really hard and I was a terrible defensive lineman," Lewan said. "As far as speed and athleticism goes, it kind of just happened. I worked out and did the things I was supposed to do and I'm happy to be here."

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