Penei Sewell Drafted by Lions: Detroit's Updated Depth Chart After Round 1

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2021

Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell (58) looks on as Oregon plays Auburn in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. Auburn won 27-21. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

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:

Pac-12 Network @Pac12Network

.@peneisewell58 is a one-man wrecking crew. 🚜 The @oregonfootball lineman earns the #Pac12FB Offensive Lineman of the Week after spearheading a Ducks’ ground game that racked up 2️⃣4️⃣7️⃣ rushing yards. https://t.co/m43pfMVpZz https://t.co/NyLkOq8aFL

Pac-12 Network @Pac12Network

8️⃣th time this season with no pressure, hurry or hit on the QB. He’s looking good going into the #Pac12FCG. 👀 @peneisewell58 earns the #Pac12FB Offensive Lineman of the Week honors for the 4️⃣th time this season. ➡️ https://t.co/5NVUJyrVzP https://t.co/L0yJM2THMM

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:

Geoff Schwartz @geoffschwartz

the reason we like him. It’s because of the rare occurrence of the room for so much growth while already being outstanding. He’s going to be 20. He’s going to improve his body so much. He’s started less than 20 games. He can improve his technique, especially in pass pro

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.