After Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes admitted he was active on the phones both before and during their time on the clock with the seventh overall pick. They had, by his admission, talked about potentially trading up to take the player they would eventually grab anyways—Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell—and they talked about potentially trading down.
“I will say at our pick the phone rang from a couple of teams, but we just felt so good about Penei it wasn’t intriguing enough for us to risk not landing him,” Holmes said on draft night.
While we don’t have the details of those offers, Holmes gave a few more notes to MMQB’s Albert Breer that paints an interesting picture. Per Breer, the Lions has a “solid” offer to trade down, and per Holmes, they may have still had a shot at landing their guy.
“We could’ve made the move and possibly still been in position to land [Sewell],” Holmes told Breer.
That leaves just a couple of potential candidates to trade down: The Broncos at nine, the Cowboys at 10 (who ended up trading down), or maybe even just dropping down a spot to eight with the Panthers. Any further down in the draft, and the Lions probably weren’t in a position to draft Sewell.
That all being said, per Breer’s sources, any trade down would have likely meant that the Lions were going to miss out on Sewell permanently.
“He was right not to trade the pick, too,” Breer said of Holmes. “Because moving down likely would’ve led to the Panthers’ taking Sewell, and the Lions’ losing him altogether.”
In the end, the Lions were just far too over the moon with Sewell. If that wasn’t clear from their explosion of emotion in the war room, both Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell gave some amazing quotes to Breer.
“When he makes a mistake, it’s because he’s trying to kill people. I would rather have a guy you coach backwards from there than a guy you’re constantly having to pry, Man, finish your blocks, would you finish your blocks?”
“In terms of feet, I haven’t seen feet like that. I remember when I first got to the Rams and Orlando Pace was kind of getting on kind of the tail end of his career, that’s the kind of feet—I’m not comparing them player for player, but I’m talking about feet—he has.”
In the end, the Lions simply didn’t want to take the chance of missing out on their guy. The evaluation of Sewell was so definitive and so widely agreed upon by everyone in their front office, he was impossible to pass up.