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Former NFL scout believes Lions OL Penei Sewell could give up 1-3 sacks per game

Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell has looked rough early in the pre-season, but could he be the problem of the Lions O-line?

Starting right tackle Penei Sewell is going to get Lions’ quarterback Jared Goff killed in passing situations. 

Speed rushers and polished pass rushers alike are going to beat Sewell. 

Detroit has made their second colossal mistake at right tackle in the past couple of years, as they are now stuck with Halapoulivaati Vaitai 2.0. 

Vaitai was another heavy-footed big-ticket acquisition from Philadelphia who only lasted a couple of weeks at right tackle for Detroit. The last regime quickly figured out what I already knew, Vaitai lacked the necessary foot speed to make it at right tackle. Vaitai was moved to the starting position of right guard with Detroit.  

Now Lions’ new head coach Dan Campbell and team general manager Brad Holmes have swung and missed on Sewell – – this supposed “generational talent.”

Generational talent? 

Sewell is an average starting right tackle by my grading standards. A team could acquire a player like Sewell as a tier-2 free agent or in the draft during the third or fourth rounds. Detroit desperately needed help at wide receiver and my WR2 Devonta Smith was still sitting there when Detroit picked Sewell.

The name of the game at offensive tackle is foot speed, athleticism,  playing strength, and technique, and Sewell really only checks one of those boxes (playing strength). 

If you do not believe what I am saying (or don’t want to believe it), turn on Detroit’s three pre-season games and watch for yourself. Sewell’s film wrote this article. Sewell is closer to being an embarrassment than he is to a generational talent. Out of a possible 37 passing snaps, Sewell received a positive grade on 27 snaps (72% effective). Out of a possible 24 running snaps, Sewell received a positive grade on 13 snaps (54% effective). 

Everyone (except me) said he was this incredible talent coming out in the draft. However, now Sewell is struggling to even hold his own on the right side of the line, and the regular season has not even started. Plus, the position of right tackle is known to be less challenging.

Detroit better prepare to go into max protection when they face the 49ers’ when game-wrecker Nick Bosa lines up on Sewell’s side on opening day. Bosa is set up to have a field day against Sewell. 

Here is the scouting report on how to beat Sewell for Detroit’s opponents this season: Sewell is susceptible to giving up pressure and sacks against speed rushers through the back door of the pocket. He shows below-average foot speed sliding out on the perimeter and he has a tendency in those situations to easily get turned, open up the back door and end up in a chase position. Pass rushers can find success after setting him up and then switching it up and coming back hard inside with spin back or swim moves. Sewell lacks body control to recover. Pass rushers will not go through him, but they can get around him. Sewell is a very average run blocker who shows a lazy streak – – tends to do just enough to try to get by, which is not always enough. Keep coming hard against the run and defenders will find the ball carrier. Just a big body marginal “pusher” who struggles down blocking and at the 2nd level against linebackers where his lack of body control really shows up. 

Nobody is going to bull rush Sewell, but he is certainly not a generational talent as a starting tackle in the National Football League – – Sewell is a bust at left or right tackle. It has nothing to do with trying to play a new position either. His deficiencies are identical at Oregon as a left tackle and for the Lions at right tackle this preseason. 

Sewell is not going to be able to fix his deficiencies either.  He is this big, heavy-footed player with thick big legs, thick calves, and thick ankles, and average body control.  

After wasting $45 million dollars on Vaitai, now Detroit has come back and wasted a top 10 pick and they have wasted another $24.1 million dollars on top of it. 

This past off-season, I tried to do what I could to position myself as Detroit’s next GM – – I would have taken Smith at 7 and given the Lions a real receiver to throw the ball to – – and over the past two years, I would have saved team owner Sheila Ford Hamp from wasting $69.1 million dollars in the process. 

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK. 


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