The Detroit Lions tapped Penei Sewell with the seventh pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and a big question on the minds of fans now is likely where the big man will play up front.
Fear not, however. Lions general manager Brad Holmes has an answer, and he provided it late after the first-round had ended and Detroit’s selection had been known for a while.
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Despite the fact that Sewell played left tackle in college at Oregon, the Lions expect to use him at right tackle in the pros.
“As of right now I definitely think he will compete at the right tackle spot for right now,” Holmes said in his post-pick press conference early Friday morning.
It’s not a surprise to see Sewell get penciled in at right tackle considering Detroit has Taylor Decker entrenched on the left side. The good news for Detroit is Sewell was recently training in preparation for such a move, so he will be well-versed in what has to happen in order for a successful transition to be made. He’s also one of the most physically gifted players in the class who fits Detroit’s mindset perfectly, so worrying about such a switch shouldn’t come into the equation much.
The wording by Holmes also leaves open the possibility that a move could happen some point in the future, though with Decker playing at a high-level, it’s not likely to be anytime soon.
Detroit offensive line coach Hank Fraley has done a solid job molding Detroit’s line and his work gets to continue now with Sewell in tow and a chance to impart wisdom on a generational right tackle to go with a solid center and top rookie guard.
How Lions Offensive Line Shapes Up
Detroit’s line was in a decent place before the Sewell selection, and the team is in an even better spot after it. The Lions have Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow and Jonah Jackson to build around, in addition to young depth players like Tyrell Crosby, Logan Stenberg and even an experienced veteran in Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who could be expected to make a resurgence with a healthy 2021 season. Add it all up and suddenly, the team has one of the better offensive lines in the league on paper, and a group that should be together a while given their age and experience level.
Regardless of where Sewell ends up playing, his addition is a major asset to the Lions at this point in time, and he’s a guy that could transform the entire group on his own thanks to his elite play and his athleticism. That is true no matter where he plays.
Sewell’s Stats and Highlights
The tackle from Oregon is a mountain of a man and someone who isn’t easily moved up front. Sewell excels as not only a pass blocker but a run blocker, and is as close to complete of an offensive lineman as there has been in the draft lately. While playing for the Ducks, Sewell became the 2019 Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s best offensive lineman and also was a Unanimous All-American and first-team All-PAC 12 player. Though he sat out 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it did little to dampen his stock as a top pick this April.
Sewell’s tape shows a player who can protect as well as move people up front, a deadly combination for the NFL.
That figures to be true no matter where Sewell finds his home in the league up front. In Detroit, it will now start on the right side.