If there’s going to be a player not named Trevor Lawrence picked at number one overall, it’s probably going to be Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell. Sewell looks and acts the part of a franchise tackle, who seems likely to be able to step in right away to protect a quarterback’s blindside. A behemoth of a man, Sewell moves with grace and has that nasty streak you love to see in an offensive lineman. Some are calling Sewell one of the best tackle prospects ever. I don’t want to go that far just yet, but I will say he’s the best tackle prospect in the past five years. Get him protecting a young franchise quarterback and you have a strong pairing for your offense for a long, long time.
This young man is STRONG! He rarely gets pushed back and not many were able to successfully bull rush him. His upper-body strength is elite and you can tell how powerful he is when he stonewalls a defender. He packs a lot of pop in his hands and Oregon loved to run behind him where he can clear lanes by himself. Against Auburn, he did extremely well against Derrick Brown, a 2020 top-ten pick, who weighs over 300 pounds and did well against SEC opponents. Ultimately, being an offensive lineman comes down to moving your man from point A to point B. Being as strong as Sewell is, you know you’re going to get positive yards running behind him.
People who are 6-5, 330 pounds like Sewell should not move as quickly as he does. Oregon runs a very “college” offense, meaning there’s a lot of shotgun and a lot of screens. They rely on getting the ball into the hands of their quick playmakers, so the need for athletic linemen is crucial. Sewell was able to get to the second level frequently and when blocking a defensive back or linebacker it’s just unfair. There were also plays where he was used as a lead blocker by pulling. We normally see this used with guards, but with an athletic tackle like Sewell, this was the way to go.
The purpose of an offensive tackle, particularly one that plays on the left side, is to protect the quarterback. I didn’t see Sewell give up a single sack in the games I watched and he didn’t allow many pressures either. He does a great job of moving his feet and anchoring in to get his body in front of defensive linemen. He’s just so big that once he gets his arms and hands locked in on you, it’s a wrap. You’ll rarely see an offensive lineman in college be a high-level blocker against the bull rush and the speed guys, but Sewell is an all-around beast.
From what I saw, Sewell is an intelligent blocker and seems to be a leader on the Oregon offensive line. He and his left guard (current Giant Shan Lemiuex) did an excellent job on stunts, perfectly passing along defenders to each other. He would also risk his body to block two guys on a play sometimes — ensuring that his quarterback would stay upright. Sewell knows that one false step or read and his quarterback is on the ground and it results in a negative play. A true master of his craft.
Is this me nit-picking to find a negative? Yes. But, I did notice that way too often, Sewell ended up on the ground more often than I would like. It seems his lower body is a little behind in terms of strength in relation to his upper body. Sometimes, he would lunge and get off-balance, missing the block. Is this concerning? Not really. Offensive linemen aren’t ballerinas and can’t be expected to be so nimble.
Sewell is as legit as they come. He’s the complete package at left tackle, a position of high value in football. He’s most likely a slam dunk top-five pick and I’m willing to go as far as saying he’s probably a top-three selection. The only player that will probably be ahead of him on most big boards is Lawrence, which is saying something. I think Cincinnati, Washington, or Carolina would be excellent fits for Sewell and would immediately allow him to start from day one.
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