2021 NFL Draft Rumors: Penei Sewell's 'Floor' Seen as No. 8 Pick; Giants Linked

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2019, file photo, Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell (58) looks on as Oregon plays Auburn in an NCAA college football game in Arlington, Texas. The last NFL event not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic was the 2020 combine in Indianapolis. A year later, with the 2021 combine canceled, the league has released a list of players who would have merited invitations. From such high-profile quarterbacks as Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields to guys who sat out last season such as Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, there are 323 players from 100 schools. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

The "floor" for Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell in the 2021 NFL draft is reportedly the No. 8 pick, which is currently held by the Carolina Panthers, and he could become a trade-up target if he slides past the Cincinnati Bengals at No. 5 on Thursday night.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano reported Wednesday the New York Giants, who own the No. 11 selection and have done "a ton of legwork" on Sewell, and the Los Angeles Chargers, who select 13th, are two candidates to move up if the standout lineman is still available in the latter stages of the top 10.

Sewell could become one of the turning points in the opening round as one of the first players off the board following the initial run on quarterbacks.

The 20-year-old American Samoa native was the best offensive lineman in college football in 2019, winning the Outland Trophy and being named a consensus All-American. He opted out of 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, but that hasn't impacted his status as a top prospect.

Sewell possesses a 6'5'', 331-pound frame with a terrific initial burst and advanced footwork for an incoming prospect. But he told CBS Sports' Jordan Dajani his football IQ is his best attribute:

"The knowledge of the game, to be honest. I think my understanding of different angles to get the job done and how I can really observe defensive schemes, how they disguise a look and how they are going to bring it and the overall game. I feel like I'm a student of the game because of my passion behind it. I really love coming in each day, putting in the work—and also on my own time I love to watch football. Whether that's watching film and breaking down a certain defender or just enjoying a game on TV. So I think that sets me apart from everybody else, how I observe the game and how my knowledge of the game improves every time."

No player probably understands that better than Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who played alongside Sewell in 2019 before winning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2020.

That connection makes it no surprise that L.A. could be in the market to trade up to land long-term blindside protection for its franchise signal-caller.

Meanwhile, the Giants are still working to determine whether Daniel Jones is their answer under center, but upgrading the line with Sewell would help the evaluation process by improving his protection after he was sacked 45 times in 14 games last year.

Whether it's the Bengals, Chargers, Giants or another team, Sewell should be a Week 1 starter and has the physical tools to anchor an offensive line for the next decade.