Taylor Lewan. The mere mention of the former Michigan offensive tackle's name as a possible pick for the New York Giants in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft starts arguments amongst Giants' fans. Some see the fact that many draft analysts see him as a clear top 10 talent and the Giants' need for offensive linemen and think selecting him would be a no-brainer. Others see the character red flags that surround Lewan and think he should be completely off the Giants' draft board.
Lewan causes a similar divide in the NFL scouting community.
Joe Bommarito, who spent 12 years as an NFL scout with the New York Jets, recently told me that he thought Lewan would be "OK to take at 12" and that teams would be unlikely to have him off their draft boards at this point in time.
"They will take a hard look at his past see what comes of charges.Some concerns but not enough to keep him from getting drafted," Bommarito said. "These issues can be managed he should OK to take at No. 12."
Another former Jets scout, Daniel Kelly, expressed a different opinion about Lewan in a piece he wrote recently for SB Nation's Washington Redskins web site, Hogs Haven.
"This guy easily has the God-given ability to become a franchise left tackle. However, in all my dealings with people, I've learned that when things don't start well, they usually don't end well either. It's typically not the greatest during the in-between time either. If Lewan manages to overcome his current legal issues, he'll probably slide down in the draft. How far, only time will tell. Still, I'm sure some team will put on a blindfold and talk themselves into it because of his ability and potential to help them win games. Other teams will shy away no matter what. Bottom line, he's a huge gamble at this point and not a good one."
"I wasn't in any fight of any kind," he said at a press conference. "I was actually breaking something up and some guy said that I slugged him. But that's not who I am off the field, that's not the kind of person I am. I might seem that way because of the way I play football, but that's not who I am as a person."
Lewan's name was also mentioned in regards to an alleged incident of sexual misconduct.
Most analytical web sites, including SB Nation's Mocking The Draft, rank Lewan as the third-best offensive tackle in the draft and consider him a potential top 10 pick. In it's profile of Lewan, Mocking The Draft also mentioned that Lewan "deservedly grew a reputation for dirty plays and getting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties."
In his excellent prospect profile of the 6-foot-7, 309-pound Lewan, 'Invictus' summarized his thoughts on Lewan this way:
More than possibly anybody else, Lewan's draft stock is determinant on how teams view his character. On the field, he's right behind Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson for me. He's got all the makings of a great NFL offensive tackle and reminds many of his predecessor, Jake Long. He's the type of hard nosed, shove you while you're on the ground type of guy that I think the Giants need. They need someone nasty. They need someone to tell the other teams that they won't take anything from anybody.
What they don't need, though, is a Richie Incognito. I don't know if he's draftable for me, and that reason for pause is enough for me to pass if there's someone else I like on the board.
Remember that back in February NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock said the Giants should "jump all over" Lewan if he was still available with the 12th overall pick.
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