Without question, the best offensive lineman available in the 2021 NFL Draft is Oregon’s Penei Sewell. Let’s take a closer look at Sewell ahead of draft day.
Sewell didn’t participate in the 2020 season, choosing to opt-out because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he had already made his mark at Oregon. Born in American Samoa, Sewell started seven games at Oregon as a true freshman in 2018, missing the other six due to injury. In 2019, Sewell returned to the starting lineup at Oregon, ultimately winning the Outland Trophy and being named a unanimous All-American.
At 6’5’’ and 325 lbs, Sewell is strong but has great athleticism and quickness for a player of that size. He excels the most as a run blocker, playing with incredible aggression and physicality to dominate defensive linemen. In the passing game, he has the quickness to stay in front of edge rushers and the size to keep them away from the quarterback.
At times, Sewell can rely too much on his athleticism and not pay enough attention to his technique. There are also concerns that he still doesn’t understand how to use his physical attributes, having played barely 20 games during his college career.
There’s little doubt that Sewell will be the first offensive lineman drafted this year. Where he ends up being drafted depends on the needs of individual teams. However, it would be shocking to see Sewell fall outside the top-5 picks. He should step in as a starter at left tackle right away, although there are lingering questions about whether he’ll dominate at the NFL level right away. There is also some debate about whether or not he’ll be best utilized as a guard rather than a tackle in the long run.