COVERING ALL THINGS SILVER AND BLACK

Raiders Reportedly Like Michigan Tackle Lewan

Interest in Wolverines standout could signal a trade down in the first round

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (No. 77) is reported to be a favorite of the Raiders. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    Because Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie isn’t talking these days about what he’s planning to do with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, NFL analysts have resorted to looking for clues.

    And one clue surfaced this week when Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group reported on Twitter that, “I’m told the Raiders like Michigan OT Taylor Lewan better than either Greg Robinson (Auburn) or Jake Matthews (Texas A&M).”

    If that’s true, the Raiders’ personnel evaluators are going against the grain of most talent scouts, who rate Robinson and Matthews as the top offensive tackles available in the draft, and possible choices at No. 5.

    Mike Huguenin, who writes for NFL.com’s College Football 24/7 section, reacted to McDonald’s tweet by writing it could mean a number of things, including that it’s a “smokescreen,” and Oakland has no intention of taking a tackle at No. 5.

    That certainly makes sense, in that the Raiders have invested heavily in the position recently by signing free-agent linemen Donald Penn, Austin Howard and Kevin Boothe, and selected Menelik Watson in the second round last year.

    Huguenin also suggested the news might mean if the Raiders truly like Lewan, they can trade down out of the fifth position, take Lewan a few spots lower and collect an extra pick or two. That seems a smarter move than taking Lewan fifth overall.

    Yet as much as the Raiders may like Lewan, it doesn’t make sense that they would stay at No. 5 and take any of the top-rated tackles. It’s not their biggest area of need, and there certainly are multiple options of very highly-rated players at other positions – wide receiver, linebacker, secondary or quarterback – that could make the Raiders a better team in 2014 or beyond.

    As good as Lewan is – and the 6-foot-7, 309-pounder was outstanding at Michigan, where he was the Big Ten’s offensive lineman of the Year for two seasons – taking him with the fifth overall pick would seem a reach with so many other playmakers available.