Detroit Lions draft pick: Meet Penei Sewell, Oregon OT who knows how to rile up his boys

Tyler J. Davis
Detroit Free Press
View Comments

It's official, Brad Holmes has made his first pick as Detroit Lions general manager. 

The Lions selected former Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell No. 7 overall. Sewell was long graded one of the top prospects overall in this year's draft.

Sewell, 20, joins a talented Lions offensive line, including tackle Taylor Decker, who in 2020 was given a five-year contract extension, and Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow.

Lions GM Brad Holmes' real test begins: Can he find talent throughout NFL draft? ]

The Lions were also linked to DeVonta Smith, Justin Fields and Micah Parsons, who were each on the board when Detroit picked. (Smith was picked No. 10 by the receiver-starved Philadelphia Eagles while Fields wound up going No. 11 to the division-rival Chicago Bears, a team looking for a franchise QB essentially since the dawn of time.)

Led by now-fired general manager Bob Quinn, Detroit drafted former Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah during the first round in last year.

The Lions have five more picks in rounds 2-5, including two third-rounders, and no choices in rounds 6-7.

[ The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive content. ]

Penei Sewell height, weight

Sewell, who declared for the draft as a junior, is a great athlete at 6 feet 5, 331 pounds. Scouts rave about his quickness, though his arm length (33 and 1/4 inches) does draw some concern from scouts. 

Some NFL teams use a 34-inch arm length as the standard for the position. 

Penei Sewell's Oregon highlights: Check out Detroit Lions' 1st-round pick in 2021 NFL draft ]

Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell points to the scoreboard after the spring game April 20, 2019.

Penei Sewell player profile

According to

"He’s an explosive athlete who is better at moving forward than backward at this point, and his tape shows an ability to single-handedly spring touchdown runs (both long and short) with "wow" blocks. He possesses average balance and core strength, but he has trouble protecting his edges when rushers get into his frame. Improvements in technique and strength should be expected, though. ...

"His flashes are exceptional, and his ceiling is substantial. However, questions about play strength and maturity due to his age/inexperience create a little more uncertainty than we usually see with high-end tackle prospects."

RELATED:Lions pick Penei Sewell; ESPN's Booger McFarland: 'We shouldn't be surprised'

MONARREZ:Lions grade for Oregon OL Penei Sewell: D for not getting a playmaker

BIRKETT:Why Detroit can't go wrong by taking Oregon OT Penei Sewell at No. 7 in NFL draft

A young guy, but a true leader

You don't see too many offensive linemen who lead the pregame huddle, but Sewell is different. As an underclassman, he was known as the heart and soul of the Ducks offensive line, leading the team in hype sessions before kickoff.

Sewell grew up in American Samoa but moved to Utah before high school. He opted out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic but won the Outland Trophy in 2019, becoming the first sophomore and first Polynesian player to earn the award.

Two of his uncles, Isaac Sopoago and Richard Brown, played in the NFL. 

Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Tyler Davis can be contacted at or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.

Your subscription makes work like this possible. Get exclusive subscriber content and more here.

View Comments