Usually when the first offensive tackle is taken in the NFL Draft—especially one who many deem a top-five talent in that year’s class—they’re headed to the all-important left tackle position. That won’t be the case, however, for Detroit Lions seventh-overall pick Penei Sewell. Despite Sewell playing exclusively at left tackle at Oregon, the Lions have made it clear from the start that he’ll be their right tackle, seeing as they already have a franchise left tackle in Taylor Decker.
And while it’s not all that uncommon for a college left tackle to transition to the right side in the pros, it is a risk. After his first week of organized team activities as a professional football player, Sewell admitted it isn’t as easy as it looks.
“It is not that easy,” Sewell said in a Zoom conference Thursday afternoon. “Everybody thinks it is, but, man, it’s a whole different feel. Again, it’s like I’m right handed. I’ve been right handed my whole life, and then one day, you’re just asked to write your full name left handed at full speed. The same speed that you write with your right hand.”
It isn’t a completely new feel for Sewell, mind you. He played right tackle for four straight years in high school. However, that was all the way back in 2017—four year ago. But just like Sewell adjusted on the run at Oregon—jumping immediately to left tackle as a true freshman—he’s excited for a similar challenge at the NFL level.
“It’s a little bit of an adjustment, but, again, I love a challenge. It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to,” Sewell said.
We’re a long ways from knowing how long it will take for Sewell to get comfortable or if the position switch will work out for the first pick in the Dan Campbell era. But Sewell sure sounds like he’s going to do everything in his power to make it work, and it starts with making observations from his talented teammates.
“I just watch,” Sewell said. “That’s all I do, and I observe every little thing that they do and everything that they do to prepare, everything they do on the field that helps them succeed at the blocks they do.”