The Tennessee Titans saw their opportunity to draft tackle Taylor Lewan as a one-time thing. Elite left tackles, after all, are about as hard to find as quarterbacks.
In so doing, they had to convince themselves that the 6-foot-7, 309-pounder from Michigan’s current legal issues were the result of a one-time thing and not evidence of questionable judgment and character. It has not been that long, after all, since the franchise failed miserably with its selection of Pacman Jones.
“We addressed those [things] with Taylor,” general manager Ruston Webster said. “We addressed them prior [to the draft]. Obviously, we talked about it even [Thursday] just to make sure.
“I feel pretty comfortable with where he is. Taylor is a tough guy. I feel pretty comfortable that we’re going to get a solid guy here.”
Lewan formally will be charged May 19 with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault and battery related to a Dec. 1 altercation between Michigan and Ohio State fans following a game between those teams the previous day.
“I was completely breaking things up,” Lewan said shortly after the Titans selected him. “I did push guys to get everything out of the way. I never struck a man [with a] closed fist or anything of that nature. The thing is, I explained to [the Titans] everything and told them the truth, that’s what it was.
“I’m happy that [the Titans] believed me.”
That’s not all, though.
Earlier this year it was alleged that Lewan threatened to “rape” a women if she went to the police regarding a sexual assault investigation of a former Michigan teammate. No charges have been filed in regard to that incident.
It’s possible that those issues are the only reason the Titans got Lewan, a three-time All-American, with the 11th overall pick. He was widely rated among the top eight overall prospects in the draft, and even Webster said he expected him to be among the first eight selections.
Lewan made it clear that whatever transpires with his current legal entanglements that the Titans and their fans should not expect him to be in a similarly uncomfortable position.
“I’m happy that they believed in my character, the kind of person I am,” he said. “My job is to not do reckless things off the field. My job is to make sure my quarterback is safe and my running backs are in good positions to gain yards.”
He was the third tackle drafted this year and the last that the Titans considered a true left tackle. A year ago four tackles went among the first 11 overall choices, and in 2010 there were three among the top 11 choices.
Team leaders are as optimistic about his character as they are their prospects for the coming season, which is why they felt he was worth whatever risk they assumed with him.
“If you just look at the last few years, you have to be pretty high in the pecking order to get one of those guys,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We don’t anticipate being very high in the draft going forward. You have to think about those things.”
Teams also have to think twice – if not more – about using such a high pick on a guy with character concerns. The Titans insist they did exactly that.
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