Lewan highlights trio of Wolverines selected in NFL Draft

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By Greg Garno, Daily Sports Editor
Published May 11, 2014

Three days of waiting by the phone and watching the TV are finally over for eight former members of the Michigan football team, which leaves you months to speculate before any judgments can be made.

But after three days, three athletes heard their name called at the 2014 NFL Draft, while five more were given chances to make teams as undrafted free agents.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan, selected 11th overall in the first round by the Tennessee Titans, highlighted Michigan’s picks. Right tackle Michael Schofield was taken 95th overall in the third round by the Denver Broncos on the second day, and the New England Patriots selected wide receiver Jeremy Gallon was selected with the 244th pick.

Safety Thomas Gordon will head to the New York Giants, and linebacker Cam Gordon is off to New England. Defensive linemen Quinton Washington and Jibreel Black will try out at the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively. Meanwhile, running back Fitz Toussaint will get a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens.

But even after months of mock drafts and guessing, there’s still more time to speculate on what will happen to everyone.

Will they make the roster? Will anyone start? How often will they see the field?

The Daily breaks down each of the three draft picks before rookie camps begin in a few short weeks.

Taylor Lewan

What he did: Often defined by the intensity that left blood running down his face after plays, Lewan has shown his grit and consistency by starting 41 consecutive games. At 6-foot-8, 315 pounds, Lewan anchored the left side of the line for 50 games, earning the Big Ten’s lineman of the year last season.

What he said (on a Thursday night conference call with reporters): “I had no idea where I’d go. I knew when I came to Nashville and I talked to them it was an unbelievable experience — just the feeling of the city, the feeling of the town, being around everybody. I literally could not have gone to a better place, not just because of football, but also everything that surrounds it.

“I don’t care if it’s 11th overall, but I’ll tell you what, I would not want to go any other place than the Tennessee Titans. It worked out. I’m ecstatic, I’m pumped, I’m excited, but like I said, nobody likes to be second-best, especially not third best, and I’m not going to let that happen in the NFL.

“I don’t care if it’s (Jadeveon) Clowney or some (player) on third team off some random team. I don’t care who I’m going against. I’m going to play at the level I need to play at no matter what.”

What they said: “This kid is a nasty, mean left tackle. Appeared in 50 games, started 48 of those. Really gets after you. Could've come out last year. The improvement came as a run blocker for Taylor Lewan to become a complete left tackle. My question is, where does he fit in? This was not a need area. This was a luxury pick.” (Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN)

“You can’t find a man with that size, athleticism and experience. I’m sure (Titans coach) Ken Whisenhunt will find something for him to do.” (Jon Gruden, ESPN)

“He was the best athlete as far as tackles testing at the combine, and you can see it in his pass sets. Occasionally gets top-heavy, but where he’s got to get a little better is in power. He’s got a nasty streak to him. A little bit more core strength, but that’s the most athletic of all the tackles. He’s an immediate starter.” (Mike Mayock, NFL Network)

Michael Schofield

What he did: Schofield started 13 games in each of the last two seasons and 36 in total. He’s shown consistency in 50 appearances in his career with experience at both guard and tackle.

At 6-foot-7, 304 pounds, Schofield is a force at the line, but also showed off his speed at the combine with a 5.01 40-yard dash — the sixth-fastest among all linemen.

What he said (on a teleconference with reporters): “This is the best possible situation. That’s everyone’s dream, coming into the NFL right into Super Bowl contention. Especially with an organization like the Broncos, and a quarterback like Peyton Manning. It's a dream come true.

“I really didn’t talk to the Broncos that much, maybe a conversation here or there with the Senior Bowl or at the combine. It was kind of a shock, but I’m so excited to join the program.”

What they said: “He's a guy that’s very versatile. He’s a big guy that has a lot of upside. He’s still young, we believe he can still grow. He's 6-foot-6, 300 now, and we think he has the ability to get bigger and stronger. He can play guard and tackle, and he’ll bring great competition to the offensive line.” (John Elway, Denver General Manager)

“He’s a gritty player who showed himself to already be proficient in the run game. Schofield is a good enough athlete to have run the 110 hurdles for his high school’s track team in suburban Chicago. He should get the chance to compete for the right tackle spot right away.” (Jeff Legwold, ESPN.com)

Jeremy Gallon

What he did: Gallon came off the board late largely due to his size at 5-foot-7, but he enters having set the program record for receiving yards in a single season last fall (1,373).

Gallon appeared in all 13 games last season, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. He finished his career with 2,615 receiving yards in 50 games, setting a personal best with 80 receptions in his final season.

What he said (Saturday night on a conference call): “I was outside with my nieces watching them play around and I got the phone call from Coach (Bill) Belichick. I don’t know, I just grabbed my nieces and ran in the house and everybody just started screaming.

“I was speechless. It was a blessing just to get that phone call finally. I’ve been waiting a long, long time. It’s a blessing. I still can’t believe it. I’m still speechless at this moment.

“I just felt like it would be a good fit here as far as myself and how I play and what I can bring and what they have for me to bring to the table.”

What they said: “This falls in line with past late-round selections such as Julian Edelman (7th round, 2009) and Jeremy Ebert (7th round, 2012), and last year’s top undrafted signing of T.J. Moe, as the Patriots have explored undersized, shifty slot receivers around this time. Maybe this one hits like Edelman. One added wrinkle that will be fun to watch is how quarterback Tom Brady, who bleeds Michigan maize and blue, potentially takes a player like Gallon under his wing. Gallon’s most likely landing spot is the practice squad, but if he surprises to earn a roster spot, he might also factor into the return game.” (Mike Reiss, ESPN.com)