NFL Draft news roundup: Praise for Taylor Lewan

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN's Mel Kiper considers the former Michigan left tackle and elite prospect and one Johnny Manziel fan has the ear of the Houston Texans.

Even after a sometimes up-and-down senior season, former Michigan offensive tackle could find himself picked high in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

At least, that's what Mel Kiper of ESPN thinks. During a conference call on Thursday, Kiper said Lewan could go as high as No. 2 in the draft to the St. Louis Rams and possibly no lower than No. 11 to the Tennessee Titans.

"If he gets down 11 to Tennessee, he’s a heck of a pick," Kiper said. "He could go two to St. Louis. He could go somewhere in that top grouping. Buffalo at nine is another team that is looking offensive tackle. So right now, if you had to say where he ranks on the board, he would be in the top 10."

Kiper has Lewan rated as his No. 8 overall prospect, and second-best offensive tackle after Greg Robinson of Auburn. He puts Jakes Matthews of Texas A&M behind them. Kiper regards all three more than Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson, last's year's top offensive tackles.

"I think he’s a heck of a prospect," Kiper said about Lewan. "I've thought that all along. Taylor Lewan has outstanding feet, balance in pass protection, technically sound, has that nasty streak you love to see in a left tackle. Michigan’s obviously produced a lot of players for that position over the years in the NFL."

Another Manziel to Houston backer

Like Kiper's mock draft, there is at least one person who thinks the Houston Texans should take Johnny Manziel with the first overall pick. Former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips told owner Bob McNair he should draft the Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner.

"Those kinds of guys who can make first downs when you’re not supposed to, I think they give you something." Phillips said, via CBS Houston. "I just think he makes plays that nobody else can make."

They're running a poll over at Battle Red Blog who should the pick should be. Manziel is in third place.

Mettenberger on the mend

Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is still on the mend after tearing his ACL and MCL in November. Even though Mettenberger's MCL was torn completely off the tibia, that didn't require surgery. The ACL did, however, and Mettenberger told the Shreveport Times he expects to work out during LSU's pro day in late March or early April.

There was no mention of Mettenberger performing at the NFL Scouting Combine, but that timetable would preclude him from working out in Indianapolis in a couple weeks.

Finding the Seahawks prototypes

Now that the Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl champions, a lot of teams will be looking to copy the mold. Particularly on defense, expect bigger cornerbacks to be hot prospects in May. That includes players like Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Utah's Keith McGill and Lindenwood's Pierre Desir.

NEPatriotsDraft has a nice write-up on few other players that could fit the mold, including some unique safety choices.

"Everybody doesn't have the array of talent that the Seahawks do," KIper said during his call. "Everybody's going to copy that and I say good luck."

Something to prove at the Combine

Gil Brandt, the Godfather of the NFL Draft, checked in with some players who need a good showing at the Combine this month. One of the players Brandt points out is former Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, whom Brandt has some interesting thoughts on.

"I always worry a little about guys who burst onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere," Brandt wrote. "Bortles is a one-year wonder who can prove a lot to me at the combine."

That's an odd assertion considering that Bortles had just as many touchdowns in 2012 as he did in 2013 and two fewer interceptions. Brandt also thinks top prospects like offensive tackle Greg Robinson and wide receiver Mike Evans also need a good showing at the Combine.

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