On the hoof, Taylor Lewis is just barely shy of what you would consider an "elite" size/speed combination. If your elite guy is over 6-feet and runs 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash, Lewis is just off those metrics. He might not quite be 6-0, but he's not far off, probably measuring somewhere over 5-11, maybe even up to 5-11.5. And according to DeSoto's coaches, he's about a 4.5-flat in the 40. His frame is also excellent, with long arms and places to hold more weight if needed.
Because of his size and the way that he runs, there might be a temptation to bulk him up to a free safety, and I could see the benefits of a move like that. But at the same time, I think by relegating him to a safety role, you're missing out on a chance to employ him in a role where he could be an upper-echelon type player. I guess that's a complicated way to say that his ceiling is significantly higher as a cornerback, because of his near-elite measureables, than it would be at safety, where he would be closer to the norm.
Herein lies the question then: can he play cornerback? Lewis flashes the ability at times, but it's here that he must make his biggest gains. At this point, Lewis is a jumbo athlete at the position, but, to employ an overly used cliché, he's still figuring out the football part of it. He has fluid hips, and isn't stiff, but at times he is a bit late to the ball because his technique and footwork could use some polishing up. He seems overly conscious of his feet at times, which is typical of somebody undergoing training in that area.
And it's important to note that said training will only come with experience. Last year, Lewis didn't get much of it, sitting behind a cornerback who signed with Texas (Bryson Echols) and one who inked with LSU (Jalen Mills). While that's an ideal situation for watching and learning, it isn't necessarily perfect for getting those physical reps and learning the muscle memory that's so important.
* It must be said here that I wasn't able to gauge certain parts of Lewis's technique. For instance, Lewis has the frame and athleticism to be outstanding at bump-and-run coverage, but defenders at 7-on-7 weren't allowed to use their hands on the receivers, not even to redirect. And because of that, something that Lewis might have been able to hide a bit (his footwork) was overly exposed.
Having said all that, it wasn't like Lewis was embarrassed. In a hard-fought game, Lewis only allowed three catches, including one that was a short pass in front of him, and he broke up multiple other plays. At times, his receiver broke open, but Lewis held his coverage tightly enough that the quarterback was forced to look elsewhere and missed it. As a zone corner, Lewis does a nice job of keeping the ball in front of him and driving on the ball when it's in the air. He also did a nice job of reacting away from his area to make plays on the ball after it had been thrown.
As a man corner, Lewis still has work to do. His feet can almost remind you of a basketball player's shuffle at times … rarely did he go into a straight fluid backpedal. He's still largely instinctual in this area, though he knows to get on the receiver's hip and doesn't typically let him off. Only once did he allow a catch in man coverage, and he was close enough to make the "tackle" after the catch.
Here's the other thing: Lewis appears to be highly coachable. At one point, Lewis made a mistake, and after the defensive possession, was pulled aside. He was put into a similar position on the very next possession, but played it correctly, leading to a defensive stop. Players who can take coaching and apply it quickly on the field are certainly coveted by college coaches.
If Lewis can get his footwork and technique to match his size and speed — and again, he couldn't bump and run at this tournament — Kansas could certainly be getting an under-the-radar type player. And with the receivers on DeSoto's roster, and the wideouts sure to be on the Eagles' schedule, he'll certainly be tested before he hits campus.