Rogers and Niyo discuss the Lions’ top draft pick: Penei Sewell
Lions beat writer Justin Rogers and columnist John Niyo break down the Lions’ first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft: Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell.
Justin Rogers and John Niyo, The Detroit News
In the end, the Detroit Lions hung on to the No. 7 pick in Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft.
And, they apparently made the most of it.
The selection of Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell brought high marks, with plenty of A’s streaming in from NFL draft analysts.
“Trade down *prob* would’ve been smarter,” tweeted Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports, who gave the pick an A-minus, “but Detroit hits HR here with an exquisite OT prospect. Big, long, ultra-athletic, nasty. Can get a little overaggressive. But he’s young. Amazing recovery skill. Franchise foundation.”
Trading down was one of a number of options the Lions could have mulled entering the draft, with the new regime of general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell rebuilding following the trade of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
With needs everywhere, including receiver, linebacker and arguably a franchise quarterback, there didn’t appear to be a consensus as to where the Lions might land. Like Trapasso, Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News called Sewell a “long-term” building block in giving the Lions an A.
For subscribers: Wojo: Lions wisely go the big-guy route and grab a gem in Sewell
The Lions were a good bet to take the best player available for their total rebuild under GM Brad Holmes,” Iyer wrote. “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.”
For a few experts, the pick made “too much sense.”
“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,” wrote Danny Kelly of The Ringer, who awarded the Lions an A-plus. “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.”
Here is what a few others had to say Thursday night:
► Lorenz Leinweber, Sports Illustrated (A-plus):
“Sewell opted out of the 2020 season after one of the most impressive campaigns ever at left tackle from a 19-year-old. When looking at uncoachable traits at the position, the Oregon prospect has them all: athleticism, dominant strength and balance. With NFL coaching he can become a premier blindside protector for years to come.
“This is a best player available pick for Detroit, who could not pass up on Sewell’s talent. Expect him to be the starting left tackle early on. His demeanor fits what the new Lions regime is looking for.”
► Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report (A): “A bone-jarring blocker with unlimited upside to play opposite Taylor Decker is the ideal selection.
“Sewell will immediately become a tone-setter for the rest of the offense. The Lions will build an identity through their offensive front into their backfield since the team still features the league’s worst wide receiver corps.”
► Rob Rang, FOX Sports (A): “The most physically dominant offensive lineman in the Pac-12 since the Dallas Cowboys’ perennial Pro Bowler Tyron Smith was manning the left tackle spot at USC, Sewell is a mauler at the point of attack with rare size, strength and agility. With the investment made in new quarterback Jared Goff, the Lions had to protect and they just added the best blocker in the draft. Folks, despite what some have argued, the gap between Sewell and the other linemen in this class is significant. Sewell is one of the true blue chips of this class, and those are exceedingly rare on the offensive line.”
► Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (B-plus): “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.
► Bucky Brooks, NFL.com (no grade): “The big dancing bear is the prototypical tackle offensive coaches covet in a blindside protector. Sewell snuffs out elite rushers off the edge while also displaying the strength and power to move defenders off of the ball. With the Oregon product considered a scheme-friendly fit for any system, it is not a surprise that he is one of the first players to come off the board.”