Penei Sewell was widely assessed to have had a pretty good rookie season, but don’t tell him that.
The Detroit Lions clearly made the right pick when the drafted Penei Sewell seventh overall in the 2021 draft. He was slated for right tackle until Taylor Decker was sidelined by a hand injury. Then he became the Lions’ left tackle just in time to take on Nick Bosa in Week 1, as the youngest player to ever start a game at that spot in NFL history.
When Decker returned to the lineup in Week 10, Sewell moved back to the right side and did not miss a beat. He allowed just one sack from Week 6-Week 17 (he missed Week 18 with an illness and a thumb injury).
Sewell finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-highest graded right tackle, and he was graded out as the 10th-best run blocker among all offesive tackles in the league. Outside of a two-game stretch in Week 4 and Week 5 where he allowed four sacks (two in each game), he allowed just that aforementioned one sack in his other 14 starts.
Penei Sewell offers harsh assessment of his rookie season
This past week, Lions general manager Brad Holmes said Sewell met expectations as a rookie while citing his potential.
“Penei, yes he is what we thought he was going to be,” Holmes said this week. “And, Penei is only going to get better. I mean, for what he was able to do being a left tackle in college and opting out and is coming in as a right tackle and then (Taylor) Decker goes out and he goes to left and Decker comes back and he goes back to right. I mean, him and (Atlanta tight end) Kyle Pitts were the youngest guys in the draft. He’s only going to get better.”
For his part, Sewell pointed to something he wants to work on as a pass blocker.
“I want to be more fluid,” he said. “I want to be more consistent out there. Those are the things I’ll be working on the most.”
When asked how he thought his rookie season went, Sewell gave a frank (and harsh) assessment.
“Not good enough, at all,” “There was a couple games where I kind of struggled, but I had to go through it. Coach (Dan) Campbell said that it’ll just help me grow as an individual and a player and everything with that. So, I’m looking forward to next year.”
Seeing areas to get better, and working to fix those areas, is what separates elite players from the rest. Sewell wants to be the best at his position, and as experience meets his skill level the sky is the limit. He’ll turn 22 in October.