Penei Sewell, described as a “dancing bear on the edge with ballerina-like feet and quickness,” is bringing an attitude with him to Detroit that is more the variety of a ferocious bear.
The former Oregon and Desert Hills High offensive tackle was selected by the Lions with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft’s first round on Thursday. He becomes the first Deseret Hills High player to make the pros.
“I’m coming each and every day ready to run through the wall,” Sewell said in a conference call with reporters Thursday night, per the team’s website. “Do whatever it takes to accomplish my goals and the team goals. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. I’m putting everything on the line, my body, and everything else. I’m ready to sacrifice everything and anything for my goals and my dreams.”
The 6-foot-5, 331-pounder made a big impact in just two seasons at Oregon before opting out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was the Outland Trophy winner in 2019, awarded to the nation’s best college football interior lineman, and in two seasons for the Ducks, Sewell gave up just one sack on 1,376 snaps.
“Penei Sewell is a talented offensive tackle prospect with a rare combination of size, strength, agility and skill,” NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks said in evaluating Sewell’s game. “He is a dancing bear on the edge with ballerina-like feet and quickness. The 6-foot-5, 331-pounder is a natural mover with the balance and body control to climb to the second level in the running game or lead in space on screens.”
Now that dancing bear joins a Detroit offensive front that will be looking to protect another offseason acquisition, quarterback Jared Goff. The Lions traded longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams to acquire Goff, resetting the position for Detroit.
During his final season at Oregon, Sewell allowed pressures on only 1.9% of pass blocks in 2019, according to ESPN Stats and Info. He was the first offensive tackle off the board Thursday.
“Left tackle Taylor Decker is coming off a great season and Detroit has other pressing needs, so general manager Brad Holmes could have gone in another direction,” ESPN’s Steve Muench said in analyzing the pick. “However, the Lions ranked 10th in sacks allowed and 30th in rushing offense last season, and Sewell is the best offensive lineman in the draft. Taking that kind of talent here and figuring out the lineup later makes sense.”
Not only does Sewell bring one of the best offensive line motors to Detroit, he’s also young: Sewell doesn’t turn 21 until Oct. 9.
“To be honest, I haven’t even started yet,” he said. “That’s how I feel. The sky is the limit. I’m ready to tap into that potential and I’m ready to go to work to fulfill that dream.”