On Saturday, ESPN announced its top 10 ranking of the NFL’s best offensive tackles, casting a spotlight on a rising star, Penei Sewell of the Detroit Lions. This marks a significant nod of approval for the 22-year-old who’s been turning heads and taking names.
Lions fans had been clamoring for recognition of Sewell, who they believe has been undervalued on the broader NFL stage. “He’s really talented, a good young player,” said an anonymous NFL personnel director in the ESPN ranking. “Playing right tackle probably helps him become a natural left tackle later. Will be a good starter for a long time.”
Drafted as the 7th overall pick in 2021, Sewell quickly demonstrated his potential. He became the second-highest drafted offensive tackle in franchise history and Detroit’s youngest first-round pick in the common draft era. When he made is debut at just 20 years and 338 days old, Sewell became the youngest player to start an NFL game at left tackle. Now, moving into his third year, he plays a key role in an offensive line expected to be one of the league’s finest.
Tackling Success: Sewell’s Rise to Gold Standard
This recognition does not come as a surprise for those who have been paying close attention to Sewell’s game. NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks describes him as the “gold standard” at right tackle. “Though he’s not a household name, this Lions standout is the gold standard at right tackle,” Brooks explained. “Measuring 6-5, 331 pounds with dancing bear-like agility, Sewell is an athletic people-mover with the balance and body control to dominate opponents on the edges.”
Sewell’s toughness, skill, and unyielding spirit are mirrored in his stats. The young man played in 100% of the offensive snaps last season, surrendering only two sacks and six quarterback hits in 17 starts. His 321 run block wins positioned him among the best in the group.
Echoing Praise: The Woodward Sports Team Weighs In
In the vibrant pulse of sports debates, a tweet can stir quite a storm. When our own legendary sports personality Terry Foster tweeted about current Lions likely to secure a spot in the Hall of Fame, it sparked intense discussions both on-air and off. The lively debates on Woodward Sports shows were mirrored by animated discussions in our office.
From these discussions, three names consistently emerged: Aidan Hutchinson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Penei Sewell. His repeated mention in these Hall of Fame conversations serves to further reinforce the acclaim he has received in ESPN’s ranking, marking Sewell as a potential franchise cornerstone for the Detroit Lions.
From Mean Streak to Leader of the Pride
Perhaps most inspiring is Sewell’s transformation into a leader within his team. Despite being the young man on a veteran offensive line, he found his voice last season and stepped into a leadership role that he intends to deepen this year. Head Coach Dan Campbell commented on Sewell’s transformation. “This dude’s got grit,” Campbell said. “He plays dirty. He’s nasty. He gets after people. And I would say this: When he makes a mistake, it’s because he’s trying to kill people.”
As the sixth best tackle, it’s safe to say that Sewell’s star is rising. His grit and fearlessness shine through in confrontations with NFL legends like Aaron Donald. With negotiations for a new contract on the horizon, Sewell’s potential as a franchise leader is clear. A lucrative long-term contract extension following the 2024 season seems likely, with an average annual value that could top $30 million per season. For the Lions, it seems every cent will be a worthy investment in their young star.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
Tweet: @WoodwoodSports or comment on your favorite social media platform!
Original Photo Credit: © Jim Dedmon – USA TODAY Sports