The Lions received a draft-day gift with his fall to #7.
By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)
The NFL draft took place last weekend in Cleveland, and as usual, there were plenty of interesting storylines along with it. As usual, there were players who dropped far past their projected draft slot (Trevon Moehring, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah), as well as players who went earlier than expected (Alex Leatherwood, Tutu Atwell).
Both Moehring and Owusu-Koramoah could be argued as the “steal of the draft” based solely on how far they fell. However, this article will show you why the number one steal was a player who really only dropped two spots beyond their projected pick. That player is Penei Sewell. Here are three reasons why the Lions made perhaps the draft’s best pick.
Sewell is a generational talent
It’s not often that you find a lineman of Sewell’s caliber, and it’s even rarer to find one who can play both left and right tackle (Detroit will use him on the right). Sewell has the potential to immediately become a superstar in this league, and he will start right away for a Lions team that could definitely use some improvement on their line.
For his size, Sewell is an incredible athlete, and he is fantastic at moving laterally to make effective blocks. He was nearly flawless against both the run and the pass in college, and while the NFL is a different game, his skills should still translate over to the pros very well. Sewell should’ve been the pick for Cincinnati at five, as tackle is a much bigger need than WR for them. However, the Bengals chose to take WR Ja’Marr Chase over Sewell, and when the Dolphins took Jaylen Waddle at six, it ensured that the Lions would receive possibly the draft’s greatest gift.
The Lions could use some offensive line improvements
It’s not like Detroit had a bad offensive line, but Sewell could help the line make the jump to elite. Frank Ragnow was a standout center for Detroit last year, and with Taylor Decker stepping up at left tackle, the Lions only needed to fill a void on the right side. Sewell will fill that spot.
Upgrading the offensive line will pay dividends for this Lions team. Jared Goff will now have more time to operate in the pocket, which is especially essential given that Goff’s play suffers significantly when faced with any kind of pressure from defensive lines. Starting RB D’Andre Swift should also have more running room on the outside, which could help to fuel a second-year breakout, and the WRs would rack up more yardage due to Goff having more time. Because Sewell is a well-rounded player, all of these benefits would likely be immediate, which would be great for Detroit’s chances of a shorter-term rebuild.
Sewell fits well with head coach Dan Campbell’s football philosophy
When Dan Campbell had his introductory press conference after signing his six-year deal with Detroit, he emphasized playing smashmouth football. Campbell wants his team to be tough, win in the trenches, and yes, bite some kneecaps as well. While the final statement is clearly in jest, the others are not, and winning interior battles begins with the offensive and defensive lines.
Campbell emphasized his strategy in the draft, following up his Sewell pick with the selection of defensive tackles in Rounds 2 and 3. While Sewell isn’t known particularly for his power blocking, he still fills a position of importance for his new head coach, and there’s no doubt that he has all the tools to improve in that area. Either way, Sewell will make an immediate impact for his team, and he should be a centerpiece of this rebuilding Lions team for years to come.