Size: Lewan has great size for a tackle prospect. He is listed at 6’7”, 310 and has the frame to add more weight. For as much of a power player as he is he looks pretty light considering he is so tall. He has plenty of strength already, but I think he can get even stronger and he has the frame to add the weight. He also looks like he has pretty long arms which is important for remaining outside at tackle.
Athleticism: Lewan isn’t a special athlete, but he is a good one considering his size. He has shown that he can get to the 2nd level smoothly, I have seen him pull effectively, and he has enough mobility to make an impact on screens. He doesn’t have that “quick-twitch” ability to mirror that the great left tackles have though, and while he has enough lateral agility to hold up at left tackle in the NFL I think his upside is higher on the right side.
Technique: Overall Lewan’s technique is pretty good, but I definitely have some bones to pick with his game. First, I think his hand placement could be better in pass protection. He has a tendency to get grabby once he locks on and will stop his feet after he locks the defender up at times which leads to some embarrassing block sheds if the defender has enough strength to challenge Lewan. Second, he really seems to struggle when he can’t initiate contact quickly after the snap. Because of this I think he likes to reach and overextend to try to engage the defender and that negatively impacts his balance. That and when a defender gets into his pads and has the leverage edge are really the only times he can ever be bull rushed in pass protection. I think he needs to work on replacing his hands when defenders attempt to slap them away, because if he can recover from that and engage the pass rusher he can engulf them with his long arms and strength. However, his ability to recover and anchor is impressive and is one of his strongest assets. I just think some of the holds he gets away with at Michigan are going to be called more consistently in the NFL (there was one play against South Carolina where he had a handful of Clowney’s jersey in his left hand and a handful of Clowney’s dreads in the other).
Pass Protection: This is where you really have to scrutinize Lewan to see if he will be a left tackle or not. I think he can stick at either position, I just think he will be a superior player on the right side. But finding a stud left tackle is hard to do, and finding an adequate one is usually enough to satisfy a NFL team (see the extension the Falcons just gave Sam Baker this offseason) and I think Lewan has the skillset to be an adequate pass protector on the left side. He doesn’t have ideal short, choppy steps in pass protection and his footwork reminds me some of Jake Long when he came out of Michigan. He doesn’t change directions as well as you would like for a blind side pass blocker and that is why he is going to have so much trouble with smaller, quicker pass rushers in the NFL. He matches up fine with bigger, stronger pass rushers, but the explosive, quick guys have given him problems. Like I mentioned earlier, I think he needs to work on his hand placement and not let his hands get so far outside in pass protection. He definitely has a tendency to hold and that becomes a lot more obvious when he lets his hands get outside on the shoulder pads, but in general he keeps them between the numbers. His struggles really start when a pass rusher slaps his hands away or negates his ability to engage him. This was evident in every game I watched of him, whether it was Michael Buchanan (who weighs about 60 pounds less than Lewan), Prince Shembo or Jadeveon Clowney, if they knocked his hands away and prevented him from engaging he had a lot of issues. He was fine against bigger, stronger pass rushers like William Gholston or Clowney when he tried to bull rush him 1 on 1, but he didn’t fare as well against explosive moves, particularly to the inside. He needed help from his left guard or from a running back against Clowney when he went inside on him and I think that is one weakness that Lewan has. He regularly tries to take away the speed rush but that makes him vulnerable to the inside move because he doesn’t have the quickest feet and doesn’t change directions quick enough to recover sometimes. Overall, I think Lewan can be a reliable pass protector, but he’s going to need chips from TE’s and RB’s and occasionally help from his inside guard against more dynamic, explosive pass rushers.
Run Blocking: This is generally the strongest aspect of Lewan’s game. He generates quality push off the ball when asked to block man to man, he has the athleticism to get out of his stance and wall defenders off, and he can move well enough to pull and get to the second level. Much like in pass protection he struggles against quicker defenders though, particularly when he’s pulling or trying to reach a linebacker. Quicker players that can avoid engaging him can give him trouble, and because he isn’t agile or quick enough to react and still make the block there are times he barely gets his hands on the defender before they have essentially avoided his block completely. He’s at his best when he can lock on, drive his legs and generate push off the ball or when he can block down on defensive tackles. He can generate pancakes either way. I don’t think he’s going to be an ideal fit in a zone blocking scheme, but he can execute zone concepts (though I don’t have notes on him as a cut-blocker). There are times when he leans too much and has issues with balance and he gets tossed aside like a rag doll which really concerned me. It doesn’t happen often, but when Michael Buchanan throws Lewan to the ground despite giving up 60 pounds (at least) it makes you wonder. He’s definitely a good run blocker, but it bothers me to see him shed so easily at times.
Overall: Lewan is a quality offensive tackle prospect and I’ve got a 1st round grade on him, but I don’t think he is a franchise left tackle. Jake Long was a superior prospect in my opinion, and I thought he could be an all-pro at right tackle even though he has had a relatively successful career on the left side. Lewan won’t be quite as good as long on the left side and I don’t think he has the same dominant upside on the right either. Still, I think he could be an adequate left tackle and that warrants top 20 consideration even if he ends up being a superior player on the right. He’s going to need help against stud pass rushers, particularly quicker, more explosive guys that can keep him from locking onto them, but he will be a plus run blocker on the left side and shouldn’t need consistent help unless he’s facing a truly elite talent (such as Jadeveon Clowney). He’s going to have his struggles on the left side, but I love his motor and tenacity and that makes me think that even if he doesn’t have the ideal left tackle skill set he will still have a long, successful career either on the left or the right. Perhaps he will never be dominant on either side, but I think he will be effective.
Projection: Top 20. He’s got left tackle upside (even if I think he has more upside on the right) and that will warrant top 20 consideration.