Miami Dolphins 2021: 5 things to know about NFL Draft option Penei Sewell

Joe Schad
Palm Beach Post
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Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell (58), shown blocking during a game in 2019, could play on either side of the offensive line.

The Dolphins passed on quarterback Justin Herbert in the last NFL Draft. Would it be a mistake to pass on another Oregon offensive standout this year?

Penei Sewell, who protected Herbert's blind side in 2019 and did not allow a single sack, has been compared to Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz by ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.

Anybody compared by anybody to Anthony Munoz deserves closer examination. Though the Dolphins have a desperate need for a playmaking wide receiver, Sewell may be too athletic, too powerful and too nasty to pass over.

In the scenario in which Sewell is selected, Miami could play him at left tackle or right tackle, perhaps right tackle to start, sliding Robert Hunt to right guard.

The Dolphins would have, over the course of two drafts, built a Tua Wall. It would feature high draft choices Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, Robert Hunt and Sewell protecting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Then, Miami could focus on adding a receiver with either the 18th pick or in free agency. This all depends on how good general manager Chris Grier, coach Brian Flores and offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville believe Sewell to be.

Is he too good to pass up?

Here are five things to know about Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell:

Sewell, like Tagovailoa, is of Polynesian Ancestry

After the 2019 season, Sewell and Tagovailoa were named co-recipients of the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award.

Penei Sewell (pronounced peh-NAY Sue-ll) was born in American Samoa, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. Tua's father and grandparents are also from American Samoa.

According to a story in the Oregonian, the Sewell family home was once the size of a garage and all seven members of the family slept on futon mattresses in the living room.

According to the report, the home did not have a kitchen sink and dishes were washed in a shower. The metal roof also sometimes leaked water into the home.

The Sewell family moved to Utah in 2012. In that home, the Sewell children reportedly learned lessons about discipline and responsibility in part by mopping the floors by hand and scrubbing grout lines with toothbrushes.

Sewell said he grew up playing football with a plastic bottle filled with sand. He has three brothers playing college football at Oregon, Utah and Nevada.

Sewell said representing the Polynesian community well is important to him.

"It means everything," Sewell said, via the Daily Emerald. "Putting on for the island, putting on for the Poly culture, for all the kids growing up that wish they were in my shoes. Just being a role model to them is huge."

More: 5 things to know about NFL Draft option Ja'Marr Chase

2. Sewell considered Alabama, USC

Sewell is 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, and was nearly that big as a 15-year old, when he already held at least 17 scholarships.

Among the schools Sewell considered were Alabama, Oklahoma, USC, Michigan, Utah, Notre Dame and Oregon.

Sewell was strong enough to play guard but also quick enough to play tackle. He has played guard as well as left and right tackle. Austin Jackson has said he can play any of those positions, too, so Miami would have options.

Sewell's parent have said Oregon coach Mario Cristobal did not come across as a salesman and that's part of why he chose the Ducks.

Of the recruiting process, Cristobal said, via the Salt Lake Tribune: “The process gave me more gray hair than anything I've experienced in my life. The process almost caused me cardiac arrest.”

Oregon Ducks tackle Penei Sewell (58) against the Arizona State Sun Devils. [MARK REBILAS/USA TODAY Sports]

3. Cristobal holds Sewell in highest regard

Cristobal, a former FIU coach, won two national championships as an offensive tackle at Miami.

And he has also coached dominant offensive linemen at Alabama.

But Cristobal believes Sewell, only 20, is as good a linemen as he's seen.

"Just extremely smart, super high football IQ, plays with tremendous power, balance and body control,” Cristobal said, via the Salt Lake Tribune. “I can honestly say he's the best one I've ever been around.”

Cristobal has Sewell is both an engaged learner and relentless competitor. 

“Powerful recoverability,” Cristobal said, via the Oregonian. "Finishes nasty. Super football smart."

More:Who could Miami Dolphins draft and what might they get in deal of third overall pick?

4. Sewell immediately dominant on OL

Sewell was the first true freshman offensive lineman to start the first game of the season for Oregon since 1997.

As a sophomore, Sewell allowed seven quarterback pressures and zero sacks across 466 pass-blocking snaps before the Rose Bowl. Sewell won the Outland Trophy as a sophomore, also receiving Heisman votes.

Sewell, not Herbert, delivered Oregon's pregame speeches in 2019.

Sewell is powerful but also athletic. He has said his favorite play is to get out and block for a receiver catching a screen pass.

As a sophomore, Sewell led the Ducks with 58 knockdowns and led the nation with a run-blocking grade of 95.3 from Pro Football Focus and was third with a pass-blocking grade of 91.1.

He is one of the top-graded offensive tackles of the past 20 years.

5. Sewell universally regarded as Top 10 pick

Sewell opted out of his junior season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and declared for the NFL Draft, where he will likely be a Top 5 pick, most assuredly Top 10.

ESPN's Todd McShay mocks Sewell to the Jets with the second overall pick, which would of course take him off of Miami's board. It's always possible a team like the Bengals, picking fifth, makes an offer to Miami, at three, if Sewell is available.

According to McShay, only Trevor Lawrence of Clemson is a better prospect than Sewell. McShay noted Sewell yielded one sack in 20 college games.

"Sewell is massive in pass protection and plays a disciplined game," McShay wrote. "He has the feet to excel as a zone blocker and the power to move defenders in the run game. Sewell has rare upside and can be a starter from day one in the NFL."

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network ranks Sewell as the draft's 10th-best player.His NFL comparison for Sewell is former Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, who has been a Pro Bowl right tackle for the Titans.

Jeremiah said Sewell is not always balanced and is not entirely polished. But he really likes his upside.

"Sewell has a huge frame, quick feet and strong hands," Jeremiah wrote. "He has the foot quickness to kick out and cover up speed rushers in the passing game. Sewell does some special things in the run game. He can uproot defenders over his nose and he is explosive as a puller."

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