Penei Sewell adjusting to life in the pros, switching to right tackle


Former Oregon Ducks offensive lineman Penei Sewell is playing a little bit of catch up. 

And the learning curve is steep. 

The Detroit Lions first-round pick missed rookie minicamp two weeks ago after he tested positive for COVID-19 following the NFL Draft.

It was a bit of a setback for the No. 7 overall pick, but he’s getting his first taste of the NFL at OTAs, which he said reminded him of his early days at Oregon.

"It kind of threw me back to the days when I was a freshman coming into college," Sewell said after OTA practice. "Same thing. Kind of finding my place and getting to know the guys on the football field and in the locker room. Just kind of being a sponge and soaking up everybody, their personalities and all the information around me."

Sewell is taking it all in as the newest member to the Lions organization, certainly not acting like he knows it all already. 

He’s a sponge, not just on the field, but in the locker room. 

"Just kind of watching the older guys do what it takes to prepare for practice," Sewell said of learning from players on and off the field. "Whether it's getting in the cold tub or hot tub before and kind of looking through the plays before install before we go over it as a team in the O-line room. Just kind of pick up the little things they do and try to see if it fits me and my personality and my process to where I can feel comfortable to do those things and go out and perform at the level I want to perform."


And while adjusting to life in the pros is tough in its own right, the Lions are moving Sewell to right tackle, where he’s expected to start. It’s a position he hasn’t played since high school; however, he earned high school All-American and was named one of the top offensive tackle prospects at that position.

Sewell played left tackle for Oregon in 2018 and 2019, though.

That adjustment is “a whole different feel," Sewell said. 

It’s like, let’s say I’m right-handed so I’ve been writing right-handed my whole life, and then one day you’re just asked to write your full name left-handed at full speed, the same speed that you write with your right hand. So yeah, it's a little bit of an adjustment.

Penei Sewell on adjusting to right tackle

Sewell sliding in at the right tackle spot solidifies an offensive line that's expected to be one of the strengths of the Lions next season with talented vets in left tackle Taylor Decker and Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow.

His head coach Dan Campbell isn’t worried about Sewell, despite how green he may be. 

"He looks like a rookie," Campbell said. "But he’s a big human being. He looks like what you would think he would look like.

"Man, he’s got talent, he’s hungry, he’s aggressive."