By Matthew Zimmer
I want to disclose something up front, I’m not an Oregon Duck fan or grad. I have no rooting interest in the University of Oregon. In fact, I’m a Washington State Cougar.
With that out of the way, let me say this, what in the world is going on with the NFL? How is one of the best offensive tackle prospects, and specifically left tackle, in the last 20 years getting so little consideration for a top five pick?
I get that teams need a quarterback, but if we learned anything from the Kansas City Chiefs loss in the Super Bowl, it should be this: You still need a good offensive line to win, no matter how legendary your quarterback appears to be.
The conversation before the Super Bowl was “If Patrick Mahomes beats Tom Brady, he’s well on his way to being the greatest of all time.” However, with backups throughout his O-Line, Mahomes spent most of the game running for his life.
So, again I ask, what in the world is going on with the NFL? Penei Sewell can’t fix an entire offensive line by himself, but he can be the anchor.
Growing up, I always remember hearing about good offensive lines having some kind of anchor. In other words, a guy who set the tone for the O-Line.
I think of guys like Hall of Famers Johnathan Ogden and Orlando Pace, whom ESPN’s Laura Rutledge specifically compared Sewell to last month.
Sewell can be that guy.
So, why does it feel like all these NFL teams are just trying to get in line to draft a quarterback or even a skill player when they could have Sewell?
Truthfully, I don’t have an answer. It could just be the ESPN mock drafts have warped my brain.
The most recent mocks from Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. have the first three picks being QBs, with Kiper seeing the first four all being quarterbacks.
Kiper did his last mock before the 49ers traded with Miami for pick No. 3. So, he thought Carolina would trade to No. 3 and take Justin Fields. Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Now, the Jaguars, Jets and Falcons were already there in the draft order. As mentioned, the 49ers traded UP to No. 3, and they’re expected to draft Jones. Seriously? Okay.
Anyway, I get the Jags and Jets taking a QB. Both legitimately need one, and there’s no argument from me that Lawrence is the best player available.
However, in ESPN’s “Best Available” they list the top three as Lawrence, LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase and then Sewell, respectively. Should the Jets take Chase at No. 2? No, after trading away Sam Darnold, they need a QB.
Kiper and McShay have said that they based their mocks on what they’re hearing around the league. I could be wrong, but I never remember that being the case. Whatever, guys are allowed to change their process, even if I don’t understand it.
Back to the mocks, the 49ers are in a bit of a catch 22. Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t that great, we know that, and he’s been injured a lot. So, they probably need a QB. However, in the past, I believe a QB like Mac Jones should still have been available at No. 12 where the 49ers were originally slated to pick.
Maybe I’m naive. Maybe another team would have jumped up there to take Jones. OR maybe the reports about the 49ers interest in Jones is a smokescreen for them to actually take Fields. Who really knows?
I’m sure you’re going, this is supposed to be about Penei Sewell, why is this dude going on about the QBs? Just stick with me.
Honestly, the draft starts with the Falcons at No. 4 because the first three all seem hellbent on drafting a QB, even if they shouldn’t be picking one… looking at you San Francisco.
Atlanta could draft Matt Ryan’s successor, they could take a weapon to help Ryan for another few years or they could draft Sewell.
Personally, I think Ryan is done. The Falcons offense has been a joke since Kyle Shanahan left. On top of that, they now have a new head coach, so no clue what Atlanta will do.
If Sewell makes it to No. 5, the Bengals SHOULD TAKE HIM. Shoutout to Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer who agrees with me.
However, the suggestion that Cincy should take a skill player is understandable. AJ Green is gone. Without Green, they’ve got “okay to forgettable” weapons. So, I get the “if they’re available, draft Kyle Pitts/Ja’Marr Chase” argument. However, let me bring up the Super Bowl again.
If Joe Burrow doesn’t have time to deliver the ball it won’t matter if he’s got Jerry Rice and Randy Moss playing wide receiver. Patrick Mahomes had Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, but they still got blown out.
Also, Burrow got hurt (torn ACL) last year in part because he had a horrendous offensive line.
Sewell should NOT fall past the Bengals. Cincinnati could go full Bungles and take a WR/TE before fixing what’s up front, and I wouldn’t be shocked.
Realistically, talent-wise Sewell should not get out of the Top 3, but if he falls he shouldn’t drop past the Top 10. Even if that means another team trades up to get him.
Kiper (again before 49ers-Dolphins and Dolphins-Eagles trades) has the Minnesota Vikings trading up to No. 9 with Denver to take Sewell. The Vikings need help on O-Line despite how good Dalvin Cook has been the last few years.
Now because McShay actually has the 49ers trade, I’m looking more at his mock. This is your trigger warning for where McShay has Sewell landing.
No. 13 to the LA Chargers. So, while I love the idea of Sewell reuniting with Justin Herbert, there’s no reason he should legitimately fall that far. He would be the biggest steal of the first round.
Ahead of Sewell, McShay has the picks going this way:
5. Bengals – LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase
6. Dolphins – Alabama WR DeVonta Smith
7. Lions – Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle
8. Panthers – Alabama CB Patrick Surtain
9. Broncos – North Dakota St. QB Trey Lance
10. Cowboys – South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn
11. Patriots (via trade) – Ohio St. QB Justin Fields
12. Eagles – Penn St. ILB Micah Parsons
Do I understand picks 5-7? Yes, but I’m a broken record, if the quarterbacks don’t have time to throw, I don’t care who the skill guys are. Cincy’s Joe Burrow, Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa and Detroit’s Jared Goff could ALL use weapons, but they need O-Line help too.
Carolina: I really don’t know how they’re O-Line holds up, but I’ve heard it’s about as bad as the Jets OL where Sam Darnold just left. So, you might need defensive help, but Sam Darnold would love to be protected for the first time in his NFL career.
Denver: my favorite team, better not take Lance. If they go QB, they should take Justin Fields before they take Lance… Anyway, I don’t know if the Broncos would take Sewell because they seem to have figured out the left tackle issue, but if Sewell could move to right tackle? I’d take him. OR if Denver could rely on moving their current left tackle (Garett Bolles) to right tackle, I’d take Sewell over Lance in a heartbeat.
Dallas: Tyron Smith is one of the best LT in the game today, so I accept them not picking Sewell.
New England: I get taking Fields. However, the Patriots need help in a lot of areas. Honestly, I’m shocked to even be typing that. Anyway, Sewell could fit here, but I don’t think the Pats would pick him because they just traded for Trent Brown last month.
Philadelphia: They dealt with injuries last year, and if former first rounder Andre Dillard can stay healthy, they don’t need Sewell. Last season, Jason Peters and Jordan Mailata both played okay at left tackle for the Eagles. So, they have options that don’t include Sewell, but if they are worried about Dillard staying healthy and Mailata’s effectiveness, then Sewell should be the pick.
If Sewell drops all the way to No. 13 like McShay says, Justin Herbert should thank the football gods.
Maybe I’m wrong, but he is better than going No. 9 where Kiper has him or No. 13 where McShay has him.
Wherever Sewell falls, that team should be thankful everyone else was too focused on drafting a QB instead of being sure they could protect their quarterback. As we found out, if you can’t protect someone as great as Patrick Mahomes, you won’t win.
Make the easy call NFL teams just draft Penei Sewell.
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