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2021 NFL Draft grades: Detroit Lions get near-unanimous A’s for Penei Sewell pick

The national audience overwhelmingly love the Lions’ selection.

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2021 NFL Draft Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions passed on a quarterback or skill position player to build through the trenches and nearly finish their offensive line build. Penei Sewell was a player with enough talent and positional value to go in the top five of the 2021 NFL Draft, but the Lions were able to get him at seven without the effort to trade up.

The pick was extremely popular locally, but we tend to have a rose-colored outlook of the Lions at draft time. Though sometimes the national outlook can seem a little misguided, they also provide some grounding in case of overwhelming optimism.

So what do the national experts have to say about the Lions’ pick of Sewell? They, too, are wildly in favor of Detroit’s pick. Of the first 11 experts, I found Round 1 draft grades from, 10 of them gave the Lions an A- or better.

Here’s a look at all of them, along with thoughts from the author on the pick.

SB Nation (James Dator): A+

“Sewell was the No. 2 prospect on my draft board after Trevor Lawrence, and best player available matters. Sewell is a violent blocker who will maul anyone trying to get to his QB, and whether that’s Jared Goff right now, or a new player in the future, Detroit has a 10+ year cornerstone.”

Pro Football Network (Ian Cummings): A-

“Spending early capital on the line is never a bad idea. Still, given that the Lions could have kicked off their rebuild with a quarterback, their grade gets bumped down just a hair.”

The Ringer (Danny Kelly): A+

“Sewell is my top-ranked tackle and should slot in as a starter from day one. Whether he starts at right tackle or bumps longtime veteran Taylor Decker out of his blindside spot, the Lions’ offensive line just got a whole lot better” (Chad Reuter): A+

“I view him as a future All-Pro who will make new quarterback Jared Goff feel much more at home in Detroit. Offensive linemen that weigh 330 pounds simply aren’t supposed to move like Sewell does.”

The Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer): A

“Sewell can start and immediately upgrade right tackle with Halapoulivaati Vaitai moving to guard. He’s smooth in pass protection and also a long-term rock for the running game.”

Fox Sports (Rob Rang): A

“The most physically dominant offensive lineman in the Pac-12 since the Dallas Cowboys’ perennial Pro Bowler Tyron Smith was manning the left tackle spot at USC, Sewell is a mauler at the point of attack with rare size, strength and agility. With the investment made in new quarterback Jared Goff, the Lions had to protect and they just added the best blocker in the draft.”

CBS Sports (Pete Prisco): B+

“They probably thought he wouldn’t be here, so they had to be happy he was. Sewell has a ton of talent and will upgrade that line in a big way.”

Draft Wire (Luke Easterling): A

“A trade-down would have made sense, but I don’t blame the Lions for staying put and not passing on Sewell here. He’s the clear-cut top offensive lineman in this draft, thanks to his rare combination of athleticism, strength and versatility.”

DraftKings Nation (Chet Gresham): A

“When you are rebuilding, you start at the base and Sewell is as sturdy a foundation as you’ll find. They need a wide receiver, but it would have been tough to pass on Sewell.”

Football Outsiders (Mike Tanier): A

“Sewell was the best player available. The Lions have needs elsewhere, but they won’t be solving all of their problems this weekend. Drafting Sewell was the right call.”

The Athletic (Sheil Kapadia): A

“He’s a fantastic prospect who plays a premium position and has plenty of room to grow. The Lions are in a rebuild, and Sewell offers a terrific building block.”

Pride of Detroit (Jeremy Reisman): A-

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.

And here’s our live reaction on our Day 1 draft show:

Pride of Detroit fans: 90% A


Grade the Lions’ selection of Penei Sewell

This poll is closed

  • 91%
    (8791 votes)
  • 6%
    (609 votes)
  • 1%
    (116 votes)
  • 0%
    (35 votes)
  • 0%
    (77 votes)
9628 votes total Vote Now

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