by Erik Oehler
February 14, 02014
The red flag report will sort out the truth from the rumors in the sea of draft coverage and make an unbiased evaluation of the risk, if any.
Taylor Lewan - LT - Michigan (SCOUTING REPORT)
The flags: Off and on field conduct
What we know: In August 2013, a website published a story about rape allegations against kicker, Brandon Gibbons from 2009. Lewan became involved when, according to a police report from 2009, Lewan told a friend of the woman in the story that she had better not press charges or, "I’m going to rape her because [Gibbons] didn’t."
Lewan was not arrested, but was formally warned by police.
Lewan was also investigated for the assault of an Ohio State fan after Michigan's loss on November 30th. He was not formally charged. More details of the account are in the speculation section below.
Lewan's on-field conduct has been questioned, with his critics citing his behavior in the Michigan State game from this year, in which he was seen repeatedly grabbing the facemasks of Michigan State defenders.
The backstory, which didn't get as much attention, was that two years prior, Michigan State's William Gholston twisted Denard Robinson's helmet and then punched Lewan.
Lewan said openly before the game that Michigan State had "bullied" the Wolverines, and vowed to not let it happen again. It is hard to hold the one game against him. The facemask holds were not a trend in other games from 2013. He came under fire in 2010 for an abundance of personal foul penalties, often killing drives, but has improved with each season since.
Speculation: A very detailed account of the allegations surrounding the Ohio State fan assault can be found here. It was not enough for charges to be filed.
What he says: On the assault allegations, in an interview with the Arizona Republic, Lewan said, “I’m not going to get into too many details, I wasn’t in any fight. I didn’t hit anybody. I was really just trying to help out a situation and break up something. I can’t really go into any more details than that. I didn’t hit anybody or do anything like that. My focus is here. I’m sure the truth will come out and it’ll all work out.”
Regarding the Michigan State facemask holds, "A couple of those facemask deals were on accident," Lewis said in a November interview " ... A couple of those were very blatant and I apologize for that. There are different ways to go about it, but I lost my composure for a second. That's not OK to do. That's not representing the University of Michigan the way it should be. That's not taking pride in the rivalry that we have with Michigan State."
Risk: 4/10 (MEDIUM-LOW) - Lewan is difficult to judge. I don't believe there is enough off-field to have to worry about him getting into trouble there, but it's still in my mind. The 2009 threat allegations, if true, are psychopath-tier behavior, but as no charges were ever filed, I can't factor it into the risk too much. And I'm completely dismissing the assault allegations as there, once again, wasn't enough substatial evidence to press charges. On the field, his passion may get him into trouble in the NFL. The league is less tolerant than ever when it comes to personal fouls (ask Ndamukong Suh). Lewan's draft stock took a hit in 2013 for sure. But he's still incredibly physically gifted, and doesn't have enough red flags where teams will pass on him for too long.
UPDATE 3/9: Douglas Smith of Washtenaw Watchdogs informed me the investigation has been turned over to prosecutors and a decision is pending. With regards to the threat allegations, Smith said, "With regard to why there were no charges brought against Lewan for threatening the rape victim, I was told by UM Police Chief Robert Neumann (at the time he was a lieutenant), that he discussed bringing charges against Lewan with the prosecutor’s office but he was told that in order to charge him with intimidating a witness there had to be an underlying felony charge and since rape charges were not filed against Gibbons, they could not charge him with intimidating a witness (Neumann told me he had notes on the conversation but when I submitted a FOIA request for the notes the University told me there were no notes)."
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