Given time, Penei Sewell will show that he was the right pick

SideLion Report

Some fans and analysts have different opinions about how Penei Sewell has performed in his first six weeks. Let’s jump into what the facts say.

The Detroit Lions selected Penei Sewell with the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Various publications graded him as the highest-rated offensive tackle in the draft. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein called Sewell a “rare breed tackle” with many elite traits.

Zierlein also pointed to Sewell’s average body type and overall lack of power/play strength. Nothing more physical maturity and an NFL situation can’t fix, really.

Six games into his rookie season, Sewell’s performance has not been consistent with what he displayed at Oregon. While he has excelled in run-blocking, pass blocking is an area he needs to improve. At times, he is a force to be reckoned with. Then there are times where he looks like a rookie still learning on the job.

Against the Chicago Bears in Week 4, Sewell allowed two sacks while allowing seven pressures. In his defense, facing elite pass rushers like Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn equals a tough matchup on the field. Against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5, Sewell allowed two sacks and four hurries. Minnesota’s experienced pass rushers were able to take advantage of a rookie left tackle. With two disappointing performances back-to-back, the negative narratives were easy.

In Week 6 versus the Bengals, Sewell had his best game of the season. He allowed two pressures for the entire game, according to Pro Football Focus.

It’s a tough task for any rookie tackle to come out of the gate and becomes an elite pass protector right away. Tristan Wirfs allowed one sack over his entire 2020 rookie season, but he is an exception and not the rule.

The Lions have a long season still ahead of them. Sewell development as a consistent technician will be among the things to watch weekly. Adjusting to NFL edge rushers after opting out of his final season at Oregon was going to create an extra learning curve. Patience is the word with Sewell. Six weeks (and really only a couple bad games) is not enough to declare him a bust, and he also couldn’t be anointed the second coming of Anthony Munoz if he was playing that well.

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