The picks are in!
Well, some of them. The 2021 NFL Draft began Thursday night with the Detroit Lions landing a franchise left tackle. The Lions used the seventh-overall pick on former Oregon Duck Penei Sewell.
Sewell opted out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but his 2019 campaign at Oregon speaks volumes. In only two seasons in Eugene, Oregon, the 6-foot-6, 325-pounder allowed just one sack in over 1,376 snaps.
He became the first sophomore to take home the Outland Trophy in 2019 and was winner of the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12’s best lineman as voted on by the conference’s defensive lineman. His 20 career starts at left tackle ended in the Rose Bowl, when Oregon edged Wisconsin 28-27 and finished the year 12-2.
Now that the Lions have their offensive tackle of the future, here’s a look at the grades NFL experts have handed Detroit for their first-round selection.
"They probably thought he wouldn't be here, so they had to be happy he was. Sewell has a ton of talent and will upgrade that line in a big way."
"At 19 years old, Sewell (6-foot-5, 331 pounds) was a unanimous All-American after starting 13 games at left tackle and allowing one sack, per Pro Football Focus. He opted out last season, but Sewell’s 20 college starts were plenty to see his potential. He’s a fantastic prospect who plays a premium position and has plenty of room to grow. The Lions are in a rebuild, and Sewell offers a terrific building block."
"For a new front office and coaching regime that has preached toughness and, as head coach Dan Campbell put it, a bite-off-knee-caps mentality, going offensive line with their first pick just makes too much sense. Sewell is my top-ranked tackle and should slot in as a starter from day one. Whether he starts at right tackle or bumps longtime veteran Taylor Decker out of his blindside spot, the Lions’ offensive line just got a whole lot better."
"The Lions had been linked to a defensive player for much of the pre-draft process, but the value here was just too good to pass up. Sewell was the No. 2 prospect on my draft board after Trevor Lawrence, and best player available matters. Sewell is a violent blocker who will maul anyone trying to get to his QB, and whether that’s Jared Goff right now, or a new player in the future, Detroit has a 10+ year cornerstone."
"The Lions were a good bet to take the best player available for their total rebuild under GM Brad Holmes. Taylor Decker is still at left tackle, but he's getting older and Sewell can start and immediately upgrade right tackle with Halapoulivaati Vaitai moving to guard. He's smooth in pass protection and also a long-term rock for the running game."
"The Lions satisfied a massive roster need by selecting an offensive tackle with All-Pro potential. Sewell gives the Lions much-needed protection for new quarterback Jared Goff. He also will provide the kind of toughness and grit that new head coach Dan Campbell wants from his players.
The Lions probably didn't think Sewell would slide to them. Maybe that's why they didn't trade this pick. Taking him was a no-brainer for Detroit."
Here’s a look at what other media outlets are saying about Sewell’s fit with the Lions:
From ESPN's Adam Schefter:
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr:
I thought with another year he could have been in that Ogden, Pace, Boselli category. In 2019, no sacks allowed and only two hits on the quarterbacks. In 2018 as a true freshman, no penalties, but he did have an injury, a high ankle sprain where he missed six football games. His hand placement could use some tweaking. His approach could improve as a pass blocker. Another year at Oregon would have cemented him as a guaranteed top 3-5 pick. The fact that he was there at 7, Carolina, you’ve got to believe, is a little disappointed. … Penei Sewell, great to see him go in the top 10. The best is yet to come once he gets more experience."
ESPN analyst Booger McFarland:
"We shouldn’t be surprised by this pick. Dan Campbell said he wanted to bite knees, bite toes and knock of elbows and all of that. So this pick, from a physicality standpoint, is what they want to do. When I was talking to different scouts and coaches, they said simply if you could count on one guy being a Hall of Famer (from this draft class), it’d be Sewell. The Lions get a potential Hall of Famer with this pick and can bolster their offensive line."