On Monday, former Detroit quarterback and current ESPN talking talker Dan Orlovsky made a proclamation: the Lions should not follow the mistakes of their predecessors and become addicted to
water wide receivers, but rather draft linemen who can help them get big up front. Orlovsky was wrong, but only in that the Lions have been doing exactly that in more recent memory, not to mention that one of those wide receivers drafted had a Hall of Fame career. But on the core matter, and in regard to this draft class, he’s still on point.
In a large matter, the question of Penei Sewell is not one that necessarily lays in the hands of Detroit. We know the three teams at the top of the draft that need quarterbacks, but the next three teams share similar needs to the Lions.
…but the board COULD fall the way for the Lions, which would be a genuine stroke of luck the likes we haven’t seen since 2016 (perhaps longer lived than such). All it would take is a couple strangelings in the passage of time, a trade (or Atlanta’s desire) for a fourth quarterback; perhaps the insistence of Cincinnati to ignore the massive gaping scar on the leg of their quarterback and take a receiving threat. Then the ball falls to Miami: a choice of Kyle Pitts or Ja’Marr Chase would entice, or perhaps the trade potential rears again. The point is, it’s not too unrealistic to think that Sewell might be there when the Lions hit the clock.
If he is there, you run the damn pick up. No questions asked. I don’t even think you physically run picks up anymore, but Brad Holmes should do it anyway.
Sewell talks of his style of play like he’s playing on the defensive line, not the other side. The key words, of his own declaration, is “violent intentions.” When asked to run block, Sewell has gone ahead and bulldozed his assigned defenders, creating a hole in the meanest way imaginable. His athleticism was put to use at Oregon, where he would get after defensive backs off bubbles and utilized in screens to quickly clear lanes. All this lead to a 95.7 run block grade from PFF last season.
In 13 games last season, Sewell didn’t allow a sack; in nine of those games, he didn’t permit a quarterback pressure either.
The Lions currently possess only a handful of wide receivers on one-year contracts. The position will need to be addressed in this draft; however, the value proposition of wide receivers can be found easily on Day 2 with strong returns all the same. The same cannot be said for any tackle approaching Penei Sewell. It is rare to find such vicious bite and athleticism in just a short playing career at Oregon, and with many years ahead of him in the professional ranks. His floor is very high, making him a safe pick all the same.
But the value in taking a premier tackle in Sewell comes in how the Lions can stack their offense for years to come. New focus in recent years has been placed upon the offensive line. The Titans and 49ers (and a few years ago, the Cowboys) demonstrated the value of an offensive line in allowing for an offense that can remain flexible, allowing for any system and benefitting both excellent run games and even second-tier quarterback play. On the other hand, the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs struggled in the Super Bowl because they had failed to secure pass protection for quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
To take Sewell and line him up alongside Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow would be to set the Detroit Lions offensive line for years to come. With Jared Goff or his successor, or with a sophomore campaign by D’Andre Swift; strengthening the line helps all those elements.
So in a sense, drafting Sewell, permitting him available, is not just the practical choice, but the logical one, like a damned Vulcan. If the NFL be a copycat league, this is the correct trend to be copying next, and his presence would set the table for any path the Lions could take in the coming years. If this is a rebuild, then take the piece now that will permit that rebuild on offense to take whatever shape you please.