Moments before the Detroit Lions selected Penei Sewell with the seventh-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the phone line was buzzing.
The Lions had options. They could potentially trade up to snag the Oregon offensive tackle who has been coined a “once-in-a-generation,” player, or there was always the option of trading down.
“I will say at our pick the phone rang from a couple of teams, but we just felt so good about Penei it wasn’t intriguing enough for us to risk not landing him,” Lions GM Brad Holmes said on draft night.
In a recent interview with Albert Breer of MMQB, Holmes explained that the Lions actually turned down a “very solid” trade offer to land their tackle of the future.
“Any possible disconnect there is cleaned up with Holmes then having had to consider a very solid offer that had come in for the pick and was standing as the Lions’ 10 minutes on the clock started to tick down,” Holmes told Breer. "We had to make a choice. It was tempting...
Rather than the Detroit draft room looking like a war room of sorts, the Lions staff rejoiced after turning in their card for Sewell. They were truly smitten.
“We wanted to make sure we had true buy-in on these guys, and certainly it started with Sewell,” Holmes said. “And yeah, [the reaction] was authentic.”
20-year-old Sewell is coming off a year where he opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to that, Sewell soared into the conversation as the nation’s top offensive lineman and won the Outland Trophy as a sophomore. He allowed just one sack combined in two seasons (2018 and 2019) in 1,376 snaps.
As it turns out, the Lions wanted Sewell so badly that they didn’t really consider any other options, and the team received mostly high marks for their draft class led by Sewell.
Now, Detroit has its transcendent talent on the offensive line for years to come.