First-round picks are usually lauded as potential saviors, but in Tennessee, the Titans' selection of Taylor Lewan was largely met with frustration from fans. Eventually, however, they should reap the rewards.
"It was a mixed reception in Nashville, maybe even a little more negative because there was a perception that offensive tackle was not a big need, and there are other positions that needed to be addressed," The Tennessean beat writer John Glennon said.
In fact most major media outlets - ESPN.com, SI.com, CBSSports.com and Yahoo Sports - questioned the rationale of drafting a tackle when Tennessee features proven starters at both positions.
"Willing to cut the Titans a little more slack than in the immediate aftermath of the Taylor Lewan pick," SI.com wrote. "He probably can beat out Michael Oher on the right side, or the Titans can move on from Michael Roos and hand over the blindside. It's still a surprising decision given what was on the board at 11, but perhaps there is vision behind it."
"It was a strange pick, given that the Titans appeared set on the offensive line," Yahoo Sports added. "But Michael Roos is 32, entering the final year of his contract, so he could be replaced by Lewan soon. We thought he was worth the pick here to help replace David Stewart's nastiness up front."
A 10-year veteran out of Eastern Washington, Roos has started 143 of a possible 144 games since his rookie season in 2005, while Oher was signed to a four-year, $20 million contract following five seasons starting at tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. On the surface, Lewan's path to playing time seems blocked.
But that may not be.
"Personally, I thought it was a good pick because when you look at their situation, Michael Roos is getting up there in age and is entering the last year of his deal and Michael Oher is coming off a year that wasn't his best so I don't think they're as set at tackle as it appears on paper," Glennon said. "Whether Lewan starts this year or next year, eventually he will become a fixture on the offensive line.
"Lewan might have to sit for the year, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him in the starting lineup for the first game."
The 6-7, 309-pound Lewan was a four-year starter for the Wolverines, a first-team All-American in 2012, and a two-time Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year (2012-13), joining Jake Long (2006-07) as the only U-M player to garner such a lofty conference distinction.
"It's been said by others as well, even though he was rated the third-best tackle in this year's draft, I saw plenty of national analysts that says he would have been the best tackle last year and tackles went 1-2 in the draft," Glennon said.
"The organization is really excited about him and it's just a matter of time, whether it's the opening game this year or opening game next year, and the expectation is that once he enters the starting lineup he will be a starter for a long time."
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