Penei Sewell Drafted by Lions: Detroit's Updated Depth Chart After Round 1April 30, 2021
The Detroit Lions selected Oregon standout Penei Sewell with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
The 20-year-old opted out of the 2020 college football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, remaining firm in his decision after the Pac-12 laid out plans for a shortened schedule.
From a draft perspective, the move didn't change much for Sewell because he was already widely considered one of the top players in the 2021 draft class. Playing another year with the Ducks wouldn't have improved his stock much, especially with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence effectively a lock at No. 1.
Sewell was an Outland Trophy winner and a unanimous All-American as a sophomore in 2019.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah evaluated the 6'6" lineman last June and wrote how "there aren't many flaws in Sewell's game" while comparing him to three-time Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan:
"Sewell has ideal size, quickness and power for the position. In the passing game, he's quick out of his stance and does a nice job of staying square against his opponent. He's a knee-bender and rarely lunges or loses his balance. He has extremely strong hands to lock on and steer edge rushers. [...]
"In the run game, Sewell consistently gets underneath defenders, uproots and moves them off the line of scrimmage. He excels when he's pulling or working up to the second level, and he gets there in a hurry. The 2019 Outland Trophy winner (best interior lineman) also collects plenty of knockdowns against second- and third-level defenders."
Watch any of Sewell's highlights, and it's readily apparent why he's held in such high esteem. He possesses the lateral agility to stymie opposing pass-rushers and the quickness to get into the next level to open lanes on running plays or quick screens:
SiriusXM NFL Radio's Geoff Schwartz also explained why Sewell's relative inexperience at the college level (21 total appearances) worked to his benefit in the eyes of NFL evaluators:
Super Bowl LV perfectly illustrated how even an elite quarterback doesn't stand a chance without adequate pass protection. The Kansas City Chiefs were without multiple starters along their offensive line—including left tackle Eric Fisher—so it was open season on Patrick Mahomes.
Russell Wilson generally hasn't been outspoken when it comes to criticizing his team, which made it all the more newsworthy when he expressed the need for the Seattle Seahawks to strengthen up front.
With Sewell, Detroit may have found the foundation of its line. Here is the updated depth chart after the first-round pick.
QB: Jared Goff, Tim Boyle, David Blough
RB: D'Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Kerryon Johnson
WR 1: Breshad Perriman, Victor Bolden Jr.
WR 2: Tyrell Williams, Quintez Cephus, Tom Kennedy
WR 3: Kalif Raymond
TE: T.J. Hockenson, Josh Hill, Hunter Bryant, Alize Mack, Hunter Thedford
LT: Taylor Decker, Dan Skipper, Matt Nelson
LG: Jonah Jackson
C: Frank Ragnow, Evan Brown
RG: Logan Stenberg
RT: Penei Sewell, Tyrell Crosby, Halapoulivaati Vaitai
By hiring a new general manager and head coach this offseason, the Lions made it clear they were building things from the ground up after the Matt Patricia era.
With the arrival of Sewell, some may begin to wonder whether Taylor Decker is on the trade block. He has been the starting left tackle since Detroit used a first-rounder on him in 2016, but Decker is signed through the 2024 season, so there isn't a lingering threat of him leaving as a free agent.
Perhaps the team simply sees Decker's future on the right side, with Sewell eventually taking over at left tackle.