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Posted on Wed, May 9, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

ESPN: Taylor Lewan is No. 12 pro prospect, No. 2 tackle in next year's draft class

By Kyle Meinke

The Michigan football team has had only one player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft in the past four years, its worst rut since 1987-90.

It's possible that drought could end next year -- although that's probably bad news for the Wolverines, since it would require their star left tackle, Taylor Lewan, to leave school a year early.

But it could happen, according to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.


ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Taylor Lewan (77) as the second-best offensive tackle prospect in the 2013 NFL draft, if he elects to forgo his senior season at Michigan. Kiper also ranks quarterback Denard Robinson (16) as the fifth-best prospect at wide receiver.

Kiper released his first -- and very, very early -- 2013 draft board Wednesday, and pegged Lewan as the No. 12 overall prospect. He goes on to say:

Will get the Jake Long comparisons all year in Ann Arbor. Elite length and athleticism for the position, profiles as a left tackle. Long arms, able to move with and swat away speed rushers. Underrated power as a run-blocker given his frame.

At 6-foot-8, 302 pounds, Lewan fits the profile for a prototypical NFL left tackle. He's also an inch taller and only 15 pounds lighter than Long, who went No. 1 overall in 2008 to the Miami Dolphins and has become a four-time pro bowler.

It's premature to say Lewan will become that kind of player, but the comparisons are apt.

Entering his junior season, he already has started 22 games at left tackle and played in 24. He was named second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches last year, and honorable mention by the media.

If he makes the next step next year -- for him, that means becoming more disciplined -- comparisons to Long will follow him into the offseason as he weighs his pro options.

For what it's worth, Long could have left after his junior season, but elected to return for his senior season. He parlayed that choice into a No. 1 selection, only the second time that's happened in school history.

"They've been raving about (Lewan) for a couple years down there, every time I talk to Michigan," Kiper said recently. "You think about what Jake Long did coming out of that program, could (Lewan) be the next Jake Long? Maybe."

Kiper ranks Lewan as the Big Ten's second-best player, trailing only Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.

He's the No. 2 tackle, trailing Alabama's D.J. Fluker, who Michigan will see in its Sept. 1 season opener.

Also of note, Kiper ranked the top five players at each position for next year's draft, and slotted Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson fifth -- at wide receiver.

Robinson has maintained publicly he wishes to play quarterback in the NFL, although former Michigan receiver Junior Hemingway recently acknowledged he believes Robinson knows he'll have to make a position change to make it at the next level.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

To be honest, it might be in his best interest to stay, since he really hasn't done that much so far. He really is overrated, but because of his off the field antics, he is in the news.......


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

My take: the pro teams are like greedy vultures, circling early in case their intended prey weakens and becomes vulnerable to the Big Bucks Bait. Personal financial need is a factor but in the few cases where Michigan (or other schools') players have acted on personal need, their careers at the pro level have been less than spectacular for the most part. You have to wonder what motivates Kiper and his ilk. Is he just filling column space as part of his job or is he one of the point men putting early pressure on still-developing players like Taylor Lewan?


Thu, May 10, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

Enough already on the 2013 draft and what Michigan players are ranked whatever. Very glad to see that most of the previous posts above agree to some extent. I am not concerned where Denard plays in NFL or what position he will play. It is very discouraging reading about a talented junior who might return for his senior season and leave Michigan a year early.

Robert Granville

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 5:02 a.m.

I definitely see Lewan staying. He loves Michigan football and he's trying to turn his image around on and off the field. He's all business and he's hungry. The whole team is. Can't wait to see them hit the field.

Terry Star21

Thu, May 10, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

Lewan is a great kid and he won't be leaving. He will stay, kick more green and red butt and become a Champion - twice ! MgoBlueForTiM....leaders and best


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

Whatever Robinson does at the next level, I'm glad he's our QB for this coming season. He really came on against Nebraska and ohio at the end of the season, and with a year under Borges, he should be outstanding.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

How about some injury updates or 2013 recruiting news like who we're trying to tag and who's leaning towards Mich. I'd like to see Denard play a little receiver, might be interesting. Any new assist. coaching changes in the wind at Mich. How about urban, is he holding up under all the pressure of the off season ?

Kyle Meinke

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 11:02 p.m.

Hailmary, I'll hit these one by one: We won't get injury updates until late July. I just posted a couple things on 2013 guys (including another commit), and we're planning more on them for the coming weeks as well. No assistant changes, and not sure on Urban, since I don't cover him. Appreciate your ideas though. I'll definitely be pursuing 2013 recruit stories. Anything else you'd like to see in the offseason? You can drop a note here or email me. Would love to hear what ya got.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

Brandon Graham was Michigan's last 1st rounder.

Scott Laux

Wed, May 9, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

Not a fan of the tattoo; reminds me of OSU players, Mike Tyson, or Octomom. I'll take Molk eating generic ketchup any day.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

I guess THIS is newsworthy, but these weekly taylor lewan stories are getting old.


Wed, May 9, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

Just what this guy's ego needs.