The Detroit Lions celebrated upon drafting Penei Sewell No. 7 overall in April’s draft, believing that the Oregon product was a plug-and-play offensive tackle with generational talent.
After sitting out all of 2020, the rookie tackle struggled through the preseason. After playing on the left side in college, the transition to right tackle has proven to be more difficult than planned.
Even with the rookie’s struggles, Lions GM Brad Holmes said he isn’t worried about his first draft pick being ready for the season opener.
“I believe that he will be ready for Week 1 and I think he’s ready now,” Holmes said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “Yeah, I mean, he’s going through the normal process that a rookie would go through, regardless of where he’s drafted. That’s a tough position to play out there on that island and he’s sat out for a year. So what he’s done, and I know it’s magnified by what may be a hiccup here or there, but there’s so much of the good stuff that maybe kind of hidden when you really kind of deep-dive the film, little subtle nuances that is going to make a big difference.”
The rookie struggled during preseason action, allowing a sack, two hurries, and four pressures in 60 snaps, per Pro Football Focus. At times he looked lost and wholly uncomfortable in his footwork. It was telling that Lions coach Dan Campbell sent the rookie out for 17 snaps in the preseason finale when most starters sat out. The young tackle needs as many reps as possible.
Sewell is a 20-year-old rookie who played just one-and-a-half seasons of college football, hadn’t played in a year and is learning a new position. Some struggles were to be expected.
The Lions are betting on his long-term potential. But if he has issues out of the gate as a rookie, it could get ugly for Jared Goff.
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