The Detroit Lions 2021 draft class was a very important one. Not only was it Brad Holmes’s first draft as Lions GM, but it was also the first draft after a tumultuous tenure of Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia. After weeks of speculation and debate, it was no secret that the Lions needed to target Penei Sewell. Unfortunately, Cincinnati was also in need of Sewell, and they picked two picks before the Lions. Draft day came, and the Bengals selected WR Jamarr Chase, leaving the Lions the highest-graded prospect in the draft.
Penei Sewell was an instant fit
Penei came to Detroit and instantly fit the mold of the city and the new regime. Grit. Toughness. Not backing down from anyone. He was exactly the boost the Lions line needed, and he solidified himself as a great teammate. Sewell played in 1039 snaps in which he only allowed 5 sacks. He was graded a 77.0 by PFF, which is outstanding for a rookie.
In week seven against the Rams, Peneiwas matched up with one of the greatest defensive players ever, Aaron Donald. Sewell not only held his own, but actually got into a small shouting match with Donald. Right at that moment is when the city of Detroit knew they had a real one.
Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell (58) tries to block Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) during the second half at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021.
Penei continued to get high praise. Coming into the 2022 season, He was considered a leader of this team. Penei is always willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. Whoever he has to motivate, he does. One thing his teammates love about him is they can always count on him to come to work and do his job at 110% every day.
Seeing a guy like that can help to motivate other guys around him. That is a priceless thing to have a locker room. Penei’s selflessness was displayed in a week 14 upset of the Minnesota Vikings. Penei took a snap in offense at the TE spot and hauled in a 9-yard completion. The mastery behind that play was something Lions fans have not seen in a while. An integral part of the Lions’ turnaround from 1-6 in the first 7 games to 8-2 in the last 10.
Penei will continue to be a leader, playmaker, and star. With Ben Johnson back at OC in Detroit, there is a great chance we will see Sewell used in more ways again. 2023 will look to be the Lions’ first playoff season since 2016.