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Posted on Tue, May 1, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Analyst says Michigan's Taylor Lewan will be elite NFL prospect in 2013, Denard Robinson won't be a QB

By Nick Baumgardner

The Michigan football program has had one first-round NFL draft pick since 2008.

But it has the potential to add another in 2013.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Monday that he projects Michigan junior left tackle Taylor Lewan as an elite prospect in next year's NFL draft.

"They've been raving about him for a couple years down there, every time I talk to Michigan," Kiper said of Lewan. "6-foot-7, 305, 310 pounds. You think about what (former Michigan tackle) Jake Long did coming out of that program, could (Lewan) be the next Jake Long?


Michigan currently lists Lewan at 6-foot-8, 302 pounds, one inch taller and 15 pounds lighter than Long -- who was chosen by the Miami Dolphins with the No. 1 overall pick in 2008.


ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projects Michigan's offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (77) and quarterback Denard Robinson (16) as early-round draft choices in 2013, but only if Robinson is open to switching positions.

Melanie Maxwell |

Lewan started all 13 games at left tackle for Michigan in 2011, finishing the year as an All-Big Ten second team performer, as voted by the league's coaches. He appeared in 11 games as a redshirt freshman in 2010, making nine starts at left tackle.

At least one website agreed with Kiper on Monday, projecting Lewan as the No. 8 overall selection in the 2013 draft.

The NFL prohibits college football players from entering the draft until they're three years removed from high school.

Technically, Lewan could have entered the draft this spring as a redshirt sophomore, and will definitely have the opportunity to do so next year as a junior.

He may opt to return to school, but if he doesn't, Kiper likes his projection as an NFL bookend tackle.

"You've got to start thinking about Lewan, he has a high grade, he's one one of my five-star guys," Kiper said. "I would definitely keep an eye on him."

Michigan's other hot-button 2013 prospect is expected to be senior quarterback Denard Robinson.

Although, Kiper was very outspoken about the fact that the words "quarterback" and "Denard Robinson" won't be put together again once his Michigan career ends next year.

"In terms of Denard, he's going to have to be that slot receiver, return man," Kiper said. "That's going to be his role, he's not going to be a quarterback, no chance of that.

"He might be a 'wildcat' quarterback, but that's about it. He's going to have to have a position change."

Kiper compared Robinson's draft status to that of former Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El, who converted to wide receiver after finishing his college career, allowing him to become a second round choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers and an eventual Pro Bowler.

Kiper said "you could argue" that Randle El was a better college quarterback prospect than Robinson currently is, but made the wise decision to accept his future as a receiver/return man in the NFL.

And, according to Kiper, as long as Robinson is willing to accept the same fate -- he'll have a shot at a productive career at the next level.

"(Randle El) made the transition, he went to the Senior Bowl and said, 'Hey, I'm going to work at wide receiver, I'm going to work in the return game,'" Kiper said. "He did what he needed to do at the Senior Bowl to show he could make the transition, and he was open to making the transition.

"Pat White from West Virginia wasn't open to making the transition. Wanted to be a quarterback, went to Miami in the second round but didn't do anything. He's gone. You have to be open (to the position switch) and hopefully Denard Robinson understands (that)."

In March, Robinson told The Associated Press that he intends on staying at quarterback in the NFL, but added "we'll see what happens."

Former Michigan receiver Junior Hemingway, who was taken in the seventh round by the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February that Robinson 'probably' knows he'll have to switch positions at the next level.

Kiper suggests Robinson listen to his former receiver.

"He's not going to be a quarterback," Kiper added. "After he's finished with the maize and blue and his career at the 'Big House' is over, his quarterback days are over.

"He's not going to be throwing any passes at quarterback. ... He's going to have to transition to receiving position and help in the return game, and he can do all that."

Early 2013 draft rankings released its early 2013 NFL draft position rankings last week, and several Michigan players make the cut.

And, yes, Robinson is listed at quarterback.

The senior signal caller is rated No. 5 on CBS' list of top quarterbacks for 2013.

Other Michigan players mentioned are: wide receiver Roy Roundtree (No. 10), inside linebacker Kenny Demens (No. 8), defensive end Craig Roh (No. 11) and strong safety Jordan Kovacs (No. 16).

CBS did not include underclassmen in its early projections, meaning Lewan and junior running back Fitz Toussaint were left off the list.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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Tue, May 1, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

Possibly the first since 2008? Does this mean the cupboard was bare?


Thu, May 3, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

azwolverine, could you cite your source on those Mike Martin comments, please?


Wed, May 2, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

Agree with PillowRock. The cupboard was far from bare, the problem was the lack of preparation through proper coaching the players received from the prior coach and his lackey sidekicks. Mike Martin came right out and said this season was the best coaching he'd ever gotten and that the prior staff not only didn't teach proper technique, but his defensive line coach wasn't even qualified to teach him properly. Coaching matters, and we will see that in future drafts.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.

1) It's not accurate. Brandon Graham was 13th overall by the Eagles in 2010. 2) Alternatively, maybe the players were not optimally prepared for the NFL during the RR era. Certainly the interior linemen's NFL draft stock was done no favors by RR's preference for keeping his linemen comparatively lighter (regardless of whether it was better for running his version of the spread at the college level).


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

I'm sorry JDed, but repeating the NFL's "persuasive" argument isn't helping - to recognize: The responsibility of both the universities and the athletes they recruit to PLAY AND TAKE RISKS and to RECOGNIZE contractual terms as being enforceable. (Both parties face risks.) The athletes DO have the right to back out of a contract - but in the real world, such withdrawals require lawyers and courts to decide and often involve penalties and/or compensation. That's the whole purpose of contracts: to set up mutually beneficial agreements and to reduce after-the-fact decisions which damage any of the parties involved in the contract. "Lots of..." arguments are a class of argument known as: Invalid Arguments. Lots of people are in the business of distributing and selling illegal drugs - but society responds by outlawing what "lots of people do." Lot's of pro athletes go back to school? Give the actual percentage. Also, it's an after the fact argument: once they've broken their original contract to play college ball for four years - they can go back or not. Projections help those "kids" make this decision? Really? You honestly claim that these sports agents and their "stars" have that in mind? Isn't it MORE likely (and obvious) that these guys get most of the benefit from their predictions? Like: having such a job in the first place. Like knowing they're so "interesting" that people actually PAY to see the ratings they hand out? Like: knowing they're very popular with the NFL because they INFLUENCE (rather than help) young men to break their contract with their "first love" university for the big bucks? Anyway: None of your points show necessity, let alone legitimacy.


Wed, May 2, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

What contract, the scholarship? You're kidding, right? Scholarships are ONE year only and if schools can, and they do, honor scholarships only year by year, there is absolutely no reason why students should be held to a different, higher, standard. All this gnashing of teeth about student athletes leaving early are self-serving of the writer and have no regard for the student athlete in question.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 9:16 p.m.

1) Taylor Lewan will be entering his *redshirt* junior year in the fall. A year from now he will have completed his fourth year as an undergrad at UM. If he is "on schedule" (and I don't pretend to know the exact status of his transcript) he will graduate. 2) This coming fall's freshman class will be the *first* one to have been given 4 year scholarships. Up until now it has always been 1 year renewable scholarships. Even in the most draconian possible reading of the Letter of Intent (the closest thing to a "contract" involved here), these have never been 4 year guarantees in either direction. 3) These "contracts", such as they are, have never been remotely escape proof. Athletes end up leaving school for all sorts of reasons (including plain old flunking out). About the only thing that they do have is the NCAA equivalent of "non-compete clause" that stops the athletes from playing for other NCAA programs for a period of time after they leave. Athletes are no more bound to finish school than any other scholarship or financial aid recipient is. 4) The vast majority of the athletes had not yet reached their 18th birthday when they (and a parent) signed their letter of intent.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

Why is leaving early a good idea? Risk of Injury. Projections help those "kids" make this decision. Lots of professional athletes go back to school to finish their education, either after their careers or in the off-season. If you leave school to become a professional athlete, it dose not mean you cannot finish school. It merely means you have forgone your amateur NCAA status, thus you forfeit your scholarship. Even the out of state tuition for Michigan is less then (I am being generous) $50,000/ year. The ability to earn a large income for a short amount of times, more then pays the cost above if the person chooses to continues their education.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

Yeah, these "football analyst" comments may distract players who already have enough on their minds (and may be lacking in professional advice as well as experience-based judgement). Lets let college players BE college players, in order to best serve both the colleges they represent and the eventual best interest of NFL teams. "Getting ahead of yourself" is never a good idea!! If leaving after 3 years was such a great idea, then by now, high end corporate employers & research entities looking for "top talent" would have convinced college presidents & boards that they should be giving out THREE YEAR degrees in science and business. Seriously: college presidents should be re-thinking this idea which allows a player to leave "3 years after high school" - (which they were sold on by over-eager NFL teams). President Mary Sue Coleman: are you listening?? College 4-year scholarships, no matter what kind, are CONTRACTS with length of service and performance requirements. And "analysts" you are responsible too: for recognizing what a contract means and for exercising restraint when making predictions and HANDING OUT MYTHICAL "STARS" just to get attention focused where you want it to be.

Steve McQueen

Tue, May 1, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Kiper has spoken and so it shall be. Whatever. That is why they play the game.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

I agree heartbreakM, I also think it was completely irresponsible to say, "quarterback" and Denard Robinson" wont be put together again once his Michigan career ends next year." That could effect his thinking and his play. Am I wasting my time at QB? Should I switch positions this year to prepare for the NFL? Or whatever. For Michigan to be successful, they need the ball in DR's hand at QB. A third change in this young man's UM career would be a shame. Hopefully, he'll play this year with a mindset to prove his nay- sayers wrong and have a great final season, which concurrently mean a good season for the team.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

I agree with heartbreak M's comments and will add that these 2013 draft projections are too premature. The dust hasn't even settled on the 2012 NFL draft. So any star player as a Junior on the Michigan team or any other will have the draft option. Then again, it was good to see the mass exodus at Alabama for the 2012 NFL draft and many of them were high draft picks. A sign of the times and I don't like it. It doesn't concern me what Denard's options are in the NFL, as long as he wears the Maize and Blue, he's the starting QB in 2012.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

Borges, install the "Mad Magicians" offense with added emphasis on passing. Devin and Denard as WR's at times. GO BLUE, DESTROY STATE & BUCKEYES!


Thu, May 3, 2012 : 2:46 a.m.

Denard as receiver? Do you have any clue whether or not he can catch? He has stated he's never caught a ball in a football game at any level.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

I think he needs to wait for Mark Hollis to tweet what he should do.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

What Mark Hollis would likely say is that Lewd-one should be man enough to stand up to William Gholston this season! I'd suggest that Taylor check into the Richie Incognito "Free Clinic" to address his "issues". Where's the threat?


Wed, May 2, 2012 : 5:31 a.m.

Lol! Nice one


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Uh, Mr. Kiper, I think it is completely irresponsible of you to encourage these kids to leave college early. Lewan has a lot of development to do, and it should be encouraged that these kids complete their education (at least in my naive mind). If he comes out, then do all the projections you want.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

where have you been Mel? They are called the "Sun and Blue", now. Just ask Brandon.


Tue, May 1, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

i like how you couldn't come up with much to say on the ACTUAL article. and who cares what it is officially called, it will always be maize and blue

Steve McQueen

Tue, May 1, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

how is the red ink flowing to your boys tats right mind?

Scott Laux

Tue, May 1, 2012 : noon

Interesting article. I hope Lewan stays two years. He looks like he could put ten pounds on just in his arms. Michigan has about a dozen offensive lineman coming in the next two classes who are bigger (weight wise and through the shoulders) and higher ranked than Lewan was coming out of high school. Guys like Rawls, and Deveon Smith (whoever starts) will be top ranked NFL picks -like Ingram and Richardson were- coming out of Alabama. The NFL is a sucker for running backs who come from schools with great offensive lineman. Mark Ingram, Heisman trophy winner, 1st back taken in 2012, 8 million dollar contract. 35th best rusher in 2011! And with the third pick in the 2012 draft, Cleveland takes Trent Richardson RB out of Alabama!