The Detroit Lions don’t often generate enough buzz to get players into the Pro Bowl in their first seasons in the league, but the team has some promising young players that could change that in years ahead.
One of the players that could be on that path is offensive lineman Penei Sewell. After falling to the Lions in the NFL Draft, Sewell is being looked at as one of the players with the most upside in his entire rookie class. In fact, many see him being an immediate stud for the team.
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Recently, NFL.com writer Marc Sessler took a stab at projecting immediate Pro Bowlers for every NFL team, and when it came to the Lions, Sewell was the pick for the team.
As for why, he wrote:
“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.”
Sewell will start from day one, so it will be interesting to see if he manages to make the type of impact on the field that many expect at right tackle. The Lions hope he will play well enough to crack the Pro Bowl, and it’s easy to see why he has such a chance to get it done.
Sewell Impressing Lions Veterans Early
After Sewell has come to minicamp early this season, folks have been downright impressed with what he has brought to the mix as a player even in practice, including his new teammates. Count second-year guard Jonah Jackson as someone who’s eyes have been opened by Sewell already in the trenches.
Jackson made his transition to the NFL look like an easy one with Detroit last year as one of the most stable linemen on the team, so if he were to see Sewell as impressive early on, that would be quite the story, and great news for the Lions.
Sewell has tried to temper expectations for himself by admitting it will take time to learn the right tackle spot, but Jackson’s words do carry some weight. He has a full season of competing in the NFL under his belt and made the transition as a rookie last year. If Sewell is impressive now, it could be huge for the Lions during the season if he can keep adjusting well to the demands of the league.
Sewell Compared to Hall of Fame Lineman
It doesn’t seem like a stretch to say that Sewell is going to be one of the better prospects to come out of this recent draft class when all is said and done. If and when that ends up being the case, a reason could be what Brad Holmes saw on tape when he watched Sewell compete.
In a new piece by Albert Breer at Sports Illustrated, an inside look at the Detroit draft is given which showcases the cohesion of the new staff. One thing both Dan Campbell and Holmes seemed to agree strongly on was how good of a prospect Sewell was. Holmes himself had visions of former Los Angeles Rams’ stud tackle and Hall of Famer Orlando Pace.
“Holmes knew of Sewell, of course, going into the 2020 season. But it wasn’t until the Rams’ West Coast area scout kept raving about the Oregon opt-out—”This is the best guy,” Vito Gonella told Holmes—that the then L.A. scouting director really sat down and studied him intently. What Holmes saw, he says now, took his breath away.
“In terms of feet, I haven’t seen feet like that,” Holmes said. “I remember when I first got to the Rams and Orlando Pace was kind of getting on kind of the tail end of his career, that’s the kind of feet—I’m not comparing them player for player, but I’m talking about feet—he has. I haven’t seen feet like that, and just the fire that he had, the ability to maneuver and change directions, and his kick slide is rare, on top of the physicality, it was all there.”
If the Lions can get just half of what Pace brought to the mix in his Hall of Fame career, they will be so much better off up front and likely ecstatic with their draft.
Sewell becoming a Pro Bowler right away would be a good first step.