The Detroit Lions made a very easy, very safe pick with Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. It’s a pick that many fans who were hoping for a quarterback—specifically Ohio State’s Justin Fields—will have a hard time getting excited for (especially since he landed with the Bears), but it’s hard to deny Sewell’s talent, and getting the offensive line settled is a good first goal of a team in a rebuild.
Here are my thoughts on the pick, and my overall grade.
Sewell’s got it in spades. He went into college as the second-highest rated guard in the nation, and he immediately proved his worth at the college level with a dominant freshman season. He allowed just one sack and one QB hit in his first seven games per PFF, before surrendering to an injury. His sophomore season was even more impressive. He didn’t allow a single sack and only allowed five total hurries while earning PFF’s highest grade among every single offensive player in the nation:
Penei Sewell: 95.8 PFF Grade in 2019— PFF (@PFF) April 30, 2021
Highest of any offensive player in college football pic.twitter.com/slXHHgTtue
Or, as one NFL head coach apparently said, per Adam Schefter:
“The one surefire Hall of Famer in this draft class.”
Talent grade: A
I personally had Sewell as a top-five talent in this class, so I would like to thank the Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Burrow for landing on wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase when they probably could have used Sewell more.
Personally, I think the offensive tackle class is pretty thin, while Detroit can grab a starting-level receiver far later in this draft. Good offensive tackles are far more rare in the NFL and almost impossible to grab in free agency.
There are only two arguments against the value here. One: If you believe Justin Fields is a can’t-miss franchise quarterback, you missed out on better value there. Additionally, considering Sewell will likely play right tackle in Detroit, you could argue the value isn’t as high as it would be if he was their left tackle. However, the NFL has changed over the past couple decades, and right tackle is becoming just as important as left. I like the value here a lot. Plus, now if anything happens to Decker, the Lions have a built-in left tackle ready to slide over.
Value grade: A-
The Lions made it pretty clear they were open to moving Halapoulivaati Vaitai to guard, which left a big opening at right tackle. Sure, Tyrell Crosby has played well as a backup tackle, but he’s entering the final year of his contract, and he’s been best served as a backup swing.
Need grade: B+
The Lions were reportedly fielding trade calls for at least a week, but reports on Thursday suggested they were asking for too much in return to slide down.
I think the Lions were probably best served to load up on draft picks by trading down, but it’s impossible to know right now what—if any—offers were on the table. If there’s anything I’m disappointed about in this pick, it’s that they didn’t trade down, but it’s hard to criticize here when we don’t have the information available.
Overall grade: A-
Grade the Lions’ selection of Penei Sewell
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