Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell a near flawless prospect and perfect pick

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions hit a home run drafting offensive tackle Penei Sewell with the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Sewell had been the consensus top offensive lineman in the draft yet still slipped through offensive line-needy teams to Detroit, waiting with open arms at no. 7.

Things didn’t get interesting until the San Francisco 49ers found themselves on the clock with the third overall pick.  As expected, Trevor Lawrence went first overall to Jacksonville, followed by BYU’s Zach Wilson.

It was the 49ers who threw the first curveball of the night selecting Trey Lance out of North Dakota State, rather than Alabama’s Mac Jones, who had been heavily rumored to be the target after the 49ers mortgaged their future draft capital moving from the twelfth spot to three.

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That was followed by the Falcons taking Kyle Pitts, Cincinnati going with Joe Burrow’s college teammate Ja’Marr Chase and the Miami Dolphins followed suit, selecting Tua’s college teammate Jaylen Waddle.

In my opinion, both the Dolphins and Bengals missed here in a big way, passing up on a tackle to protect their investment at quarterback with a talent like Sewell.

Day one of the NFL Draft was a huge win for the Detroit Lions.

You couldn’t draw it up any better if you are a Detroit fan.  Successful rebuilds start with the quarterback position, followed by dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.

Many of you hoped the organization elected to choose Justin Fields, who the Chicago Bears traded up to pick with the eleventh overall pick.

Brad Holmes and company preferred to go with the best player available approach here, plus don’t rule out the Lions selecting a quarterback at the top of the draft in 2021.  But let’s not rule out Holmes committing to building around 26-year old Jared Goff.  Many of you don’t want to hear that, but in a clean pocket with time to go through his progressions, Goff can be an effective starting quarterback a franchise can win with.

Sewell added to an offensive line that already features Frank Ragnow, Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, and perhaps Tyrell Crosby, Logan Stenberg, or even (sigh) Hal Vaitai; this should be a top-five offensive line in 2021.  I expect Sewell to start at right tackle from day one opposite Decker but will eventually take over protecting Detroit’s blindside likely in his second NFL season.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Lions offensive line ranked as the 13th best unit in the NFL.

PFF awarded Sewell with an elite 95.8 overall grade in 2019; at 6-foot-5, 330-pounds, the Lions are getting an absolute beast that rarely gets his jersey dirty because not many have success moving Sewell, let alone get the big-man to the ground.

Get ready for a ground-and-pound offense led by the offensive line creating space for D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, followed by plenty of play-action opportunities for Goff, where he saw most of his success with the Rams.  Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn must be ecstatic today.

When you add a player like Sewell to that group, who won the Outland Trophy in 2019 in Oregon’s Rose Bowl-winning season, plus made the freshman All-American unit in 2018 despite missing much of the season due to injury, the sky is the limit.

The Detroit Lions regimes of the past would have gone Micah Parsons or DeVonta Smith.  Both exceptional players, but it’s clear the Lions’ primary focus has shifted to a long-term plan.

In my opinion, the only chance Detroit landed an A+ mark Thursday night had been if they found a way to trade back and receive an additional future first-round pick in addition to a pick-swap.  That clearly didn’t materialize, and this was the next best thing.

Next. Detroit Lions 2021 NFL Mock Draft 4.0. dark

Overall Grade: A