With Lewan, Titans moved now to secure tackle of the future

The thinking was that with the 11th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft the Tennessee Titans could get someone to contribute immediately. What they got in Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan was someone who might spend the entire season as a backup.

As far as they are concerned, the timing is perfect.

“In certain positions you have to look ahead because they’re premium positions,” general manager Ruston Webster said. “Really, left tackle is one of those positions.

“… My experience has been it’s very difficult to find left tackles and when you get one, a guy that can play left tackle in the National Football League, you have to do it. So we were very happy that he was still there.”

A look at Taylor Lewan and how he fits in with the Titans:

Who is he?: He is a 6-foot-7, 309-pound tackle out of Michigan. A former defensive lineman, he has quick feet and projects as a prototypical left tackle. He played 52 career games with 49 starts and was a three-time All-American, a three-time all-conference player and the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Scouting report: He plays an aggressive game that makes opponents hate him and teammates love him. He ran the 40 in 4.87 seconds, which was fastest among all offensive tackles at the scouting combine. He has the vision and the smarts to get downfield and make blocks in the second level of the defense. He plays with a lot of emotion that sometimes gets the best of him and leads to too many penalties. Occasionally he is too slow off the snap and gets pushed around as a result of it.

Why the Titans took him: They embarked on a major offensive line commitment last season when they overhauled the interior of the offensive line with two draft picks (Chance Warmack and Brian Schwenke) and a high-priced free agent (Andy Levitre). This continues that process in a significant way.

How he fits: It is a virtual certainty that Lewan will be the starting left tackle when the 2015 season opens. The question is whether he can send Michael Roos to the bench or possibly to right tackle, which would send Michael Oher to the bench, this season. If not he’ll spend a year on the bench developing his game. However it works out, the math is simple: there are three really good players who will compete for two spots this season.

Historical perspective: This is the second straight year the Titans drafted an offensive lineman in the first round. The last time that happened was 1982-84 when the then-Houston Oilers took future Hall of Famers Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews and then added Dean Steinkuhler. The last time the franchise drafted a tackle in the first round was in 1993 when they got Brad Hopkins.

Worth noting: Matthews, Hopkins and Munchak all are among the top seven in all-time games played for the franchise.

What they said: “I want to be a person that plays as hard, as fast and as nasty as he possibly can. So I play through the whistle. I also want to try to be one of the toughest guys on the field. So it gets to the point where I have a guy, it’s the end of the fourth quarter, he’s worn down and he doesn’t want to play anymore. That’s my style.” – Lewan

“[The offensive line] is something that has been important to us and to me that we stay strong there. I think the game starts at the line of scrimmage. That’s something that we invested in it last year and I think it’s important that we keep that going. I’ve been in situations before where we let it go and we were comfortable with a certain player, a great player, and when we didn’t have that player anymore and we didn’t have a chance to replace him – a left tackle – it can be very difficult to play the game especially in the division we’re in, against the people we’re going to play.” – Webster

“You never know what’s going to happen in this league and [left tackle] is an important position. With our quarterback situation, that’s one of the things we felt like we had to solidify. I’m very pleased that Ruston felt strongly about that and I think it makes our football team better.” – coach Ken Whisenhunt