Most NFL Draft experts have former Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell as one of the top-five players in the annual event set to start on Thursday. In fact, there’s some who believe that he’s the best non-quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Due to a combination of factors that are out of his control and some push back within the scouting community, there’s now a chance that Sewell could fall once Round 1 gets going.
“A bit overrated. He is a naturally thick, big-framed tackle. His workout was actually better than he played. I didn’t think he was super explosive,” an unnamed NFL scout said of Penei Sewell, via The Athletic. “He covered people up with his size, and he would gouge somebody just because he was bigger than them. And name one pass rusher he actually played against in the Pac-12 who’s on a draft board?”
This stance was repeated over and over again as Bob McGinn spoke to unnamed scouts around the NFL world.
“Every time I circle back and watch him, I just don’t see it,” a fourth scout said. “He’s not that gifted with his feet. He doesn’t really play that physical or strong. He can get in the way, but he’s not a really good finisher, and his balance isn’t that great. His technique is off. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
While these reviews don’t seemingly paint Sewell in the best of lights, there’s a couple things to factor into here. First off, it’s smokescreen season around the NFL. There’s a chance that some of these scouts want to be able to add Sewell in the bottom end of the top 10. Putting this out there with the expectation that it will lead to a draft day fall isn’t an exception to the rule.
Secondly, Sewell potentially dropping could have more to do with team needs and a rush of quarterbacks likely set to go in the top 10.
Best fits for Penei Sewell in the 2021 NFL Draft
- Cincinnati Bengals: Picking fifth overall, this team has been linked to Sewell throughout the entire pre-draft process. The idea would be to get young quarterback Joe Burrow a franchise blindside protector as he recovers from a torn ACL. Adding Sewell to the mix would also enable former first-round pick Jonah Williams to move to right tackle — forming an elite pairing in the process.
- Miami Dolphins: The Fins have been linked more to wide receivers and one fellow by the name of Kyle Pitts after trading down from the third pick to sixth overall. With that said, finding a potential franchise cornerstone in front of Tua Tagovailoa could make sense. It’s highly unlikely that Austin Jackson is that man moving forward.
- Carolina Panthers: Carolina did place the franchise tag on right tackle Taylor Moton earlier this offseason. It also has a youngster in Greg Little potentially able to start. With that said, neither can be seen as an elite-level blindside protector. After yielding three draft picks for quarterback Sam Darnold, Carolina might want to get him some more help at eighth overall. Of course, that’s dependent on Carolina not trading down.
- New York Giants: We’re pretty sure Giants general manager David Gettleman would do cartwheels if Penei Sewell fell to the 11th pick. Despite selecting Andrew Thomas fourth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, this area remains a need. Nate Solder is not a long-term option to man left tackle. Meanwhile, Thomas fits in better on the right side in front of Daniel Jones. Of all the teams mentioned here, the Giants make the most sense.
Bottom line: Penei Sewell is facing a fall come draft day
It just remains to be seen how far the former Oregon left tackle is going to fall. Right now, quarterbacks are expected to be the first three picks off the board with Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson leading the charge.
Stud tight end Kyle Pitts could go off the board as early as No. 4 overall to the Atlanta Falcons. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals are seemingly targeting a wide receiver. Both Atlanta and Cincinnati could also move down with a quarterback-needy team.
That’s the issue when it comes to Sewell. We’re having a hard time finding a fit within the top five. From there, other teams could move up for a quarterback with five potentially set to go within the top 10.
The backdrop here is the presence of Northwestern product Rashawn Slater and Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech. Do teams view Sewell as much better than those two prospects? At this point, it’s an option question. It also leads us to believe that Sewell could fall all the way to the Los Angeles Chargers at 13 or Minnesota Vikings one pick later.