After being drafted seventh overall in the 2021 NFL draft, Detroit Lions’ right tackle Penei Sewell had immense expectations as soon as he walked across that stage. He started as a true freshman at the University of Oregon and was consistently tabbed as a “generational” talent by those familiar with offensive line play. At 6-foot-5 and over 330 pounds, Sewell is a mammoth of a man that moves as if he were 100 pounds lighter than he actually is. The craziest part? He is still just 22 years old.
“I don’t know that it is as polished as it needs to be yet, but man—the ability to move that body and the power and everything else that comes with it, it’s only a matter of time,” said former All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth on the Trench Warfare Podcast. “I think he is going to be a really special player for a long time.”
“His ceiling is just so high,” said offensive line guru Duke Manyweather of Sewell. “For me, it’s definitely Penei for that second team (All-Pro). I think the carnage and destruction in the run game, and the physicality with the blocks on the move, to me—it’s pretty special.”
As someone who follows offensive line play really closely, to have guys like Whitworth and Manyweather emphatically declare that Sewell is the second-best right tackle in football behind perennial All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson—is a massive development. His film has been eye-popping all year, but still, to attain this kind of notoriety in only year two is really special.
You can listen to the duration of the Trench Warfare Podcast here, and if you’re like me and want to learn more about offensive and defensive line play, you can subscribe to Brandon Thorn’s Trench Warfare substack here.
And now, onto the rest of today’s notes:
- Unsurprisingly, the Lions were among the league leaders in rookie snaps played on defense.
Via @ZebraTechnology, defensive rookie snap percentage for the 2022 season:— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) January 11, 2023
1. Bears – 29.2%
2. Texans – 25.2%
3. Chiefs – 24.3%
4. Lions – 23.4%
5. Giants – 20.1%
With Hutchinson, Joseph and Rodriguez combining for 2,450 defensive snaps, surprised Lions didn't end up higher.
- After a stellar ending to his 2022 season, quarterback Jared Goff has bought himself more time as the starter for the Lions by virtue of his play. Eric Woodyard of ESPN has more on how general manager Brad Holmes gave Goff his stamp of approval during his end-of-year media availability. (Our own Jeremy Reisman also offered his perspective on Holmes’ statements)
- Running back Jamaal Williams and the Lions got a shoutout from Jimmy Kimmel during his nightly show (jump to the moment at 1:15 in the video)
- Lions’ edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson had himself one hell of a rookie season, and Saints’ all-time sack leader Cameron Jordan has taken notice.
"He showed us this year he's got it, now we're gonna see how far we can go with it." @aidanhutch97 ended his strong rookie campaign with two sacks against Green Bay, and @camjordan94 is looking forward to seeing what Year 2 holds for Hutch #OnePride pic.twitter.com/5Zi2mD0RxH— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) January 11, 2023
- The Lions played a fearless brand of football in 2022, and a lot of that can be attributed to how their coach approaches the game. Kyle Meinke of MLive has more on how the culture has truly been reset in Allen Park.
- Both Holmes and Campbell seemed pleased with how the 2022 season ended, and both understand 9-8 isn’t the end goal. Colton Pouncy of The Athletic has more on how the two enter the offseason eager to build their roster up even more.