Former Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell was widely regarded as the best offensive lineman in the 2021 NFL Draft and had a valuation from some draft analysts as the top non-quarterback in the class.
Sewell ended up ‘sliding’ to the Detroit Lions at No. 7 overall in a pick in what may have been the biggest draft-day steal of 2021. It’s been well-documented how excited the Lions’ front office and coaching staff was about Sewell’s fall.
Now that training camp is inching closer to kicking off, it’s Sewell who’s been dubbed the most likely first-time Pro Bowler in Detroit by NFL.com.
If you’re Detroit, you’d like Sewell to mimic the first season of future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, who starred at tackle from wire to wire in 2007 and waltzed directly into the Pro Bowl. Preparation will be key as Sewell is being asked to switch from left to right tackle after opting out of his final season at Oregon. So far, so good, though, with Lions guard Jonah Jackson saying in June: “They say he’s a 20-year-old, but he acts like a grown man with how he handles himself. … You see why he was the No. 7 overall pick.” By comparison, at age 20, I was softly released from a summer house-painting gig after spilling a bucket of white paint all over somebody’s precious roof.
There’s a likely learning curve coming for Sewell this fall, especially after choosing to opt-out of the 2020 college football season. But the upside in his game is obvious; he has All-Pro potential and at just 20 years old (he doesn’t turn 21 until October), his ceiling may be unrivaled in this year’s rookie class.