Top Pick Taylor Lewan Learning, Transitioning Well to NFL


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

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 the next day 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.

"It's been a bunch of different emotions," Lewan said upon arriving to the team's practice facility. "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 that the decision was great because of the experiences he had with teammates at Michigan. But now he's 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."

Lewan participated in the team's offseason OTAs and minicamps before reaching contract terms one day out of the start of training camp. He was thrown a curve ball out of the gate when asked to take reps on the opening day of camp at left guard in place of Andy Levitre, who had undergone emergency appendectomy surgery. The natural tackle had never played guard outside of a few practices during OTAs, but said he's willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field.

"I am excited to get reps in general. I want to play the game, so whatever that takes," Lewan told reporters. "Am I a left guard at six-feet seven inches and 315-pounds? Maybe not, but if that's what it takes I'm going to play left guard. It's a great opportunity to get out there and be with the ones. It's more of a comfort issue to just get in there and play."

The Titans selected Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan with the 11th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Getting experience at guard gave Lewan a few one-on-one matchups with star defensive lineman Jurrell Casey. That matchup gave the rookie early experience lining up against one of the NFL's elite at his position.

"Going against Casey – he's a heck of a player," said Lewan, complimenting the Titans' sack leader in 2013. "It's good to get out there and play against that speed. That transition will help me at tackle."

And tackle is exactly where head coach Ken Whisenhunt envisions Lewan ultimately playing, even though the coach believes versatility is important at the position.

"In long-term thinking when you talk about game day with seven active [offensive linemen] those guys have to be able to do both, so this was a great opportunity to get him work," Whisenhunt said.

General manager Ruston Webster was pleased that Lewan was still available when the Titans selected him in May 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 the day he was drafted. "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 to replace David Stewart, but Whisenhunt said Lewan will have an opportunity to compete for playing time in 2014. Webster said left tackle is a position in which keeping an eye on the future with a long-term plan in place is important.

"In my mind, there are certain things you need 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's 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."

Lewan is off to a good start and working hard to make a successful transition to the NFL.

"At the end of the day I'm playing football. Everyone is just a lot stronger, faster, and more athletic," he said. "It's just about going out there and playing. These guys are unbelievable athletes. You go from being the most athletic guy to just another athlete."

Lewan is wearing No. 77, a jersey number significant to him during his college career because it was also worn by former Wolverines tackles Jon Jansen and Jake Long. Rather than rest on his college accomplishments, however, Lewan realizes his work has just begun.

"I haven't done anything yet. You get drafted in the first round, that's great," Lewan said. "You're the first person the Titans picked, that's awesome, something I'll cherish forever, but I haven't done anything. I don't even have a real sign on my locker yet, so I'm ready to play ball and make this team."

Craig Peters and Joe Fann contributed to this story

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