Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan has made the surprising decision to return to school for his senior year and wait until 2014 to enter the NFL draft.
Lewan says he has been told he would be a first-round pick if he came out this year, but he has more he wants to accomplish in college before he’s ready to make the jump to the pros.
“When you say NFL and the first round, that sounds amazing,” Lewan said, via MLive.com. “But when you play at the University of Michigan, whether it’s basketball, hockey, football, there’s a tradition here and it’s something you want to be part of. If I do what I need to do, I’ll be able to play in the NFL for however long — but you only get one more year of college. Every kid grows up wanting to be a pro athlete — most want to be pro football players — and to know I had that opportunity was a great feeling. But like I said before, I have unfinished business here. Came in in 2009, and I want to finish with my class.”
Lewan said he talked to former Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long, who completed his NCAA eligibility and was the first overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft, and Long told him he has no regrets about staying at Michigan as long as he could.
“I asked him why he stayed, and it’s funny: Every single thing he said about staying at the University of Michigan went through my head countless times. It’s kind of interesting to think we had the same mind-set going into this thing,” Lewan said.
Although Lewan is risking injury by returning to school, it’s also possible that a good senior season could send his stock higher: If Lewan had entered this year’s draft he likely would have been the second offensive tackle off the board, following Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M. With another strong year at Michigan, Lewan could be the first offensive lineman drafted in 2014.