Finding fits for the Cincinnati Bengals: OT Penei Sewell

If you had to build a prototypical left tackle, you’d likely end up with something that looked like Penei Sewell. Measuring 6’6 and weighing in at 325 lbs, he has the length and size that NFL scouts search for.

Sewell was a freshman starter for the Oregon Ducks, making his first appearance aged only 17. Despite missing six games due to injury, he made USA Today’s All-American Freshman team and graded highly with PFF. He followed up that stellar performance in his sophomore year, earning the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s top offensive lineman.

Sewell ended his college career as the highest-graded offensive lineman since the creation of PFF. With a grade of 95.5, he was a dominant force on a talented offensive line that protected QB Justin Herbert.

In 2020, Sewell decided to opt-out from Oregon’s conference-only schedule. While his tape is strong enough to show him as a round one prospect, some analysts have begun to cool on him. This season would have been one to view his maturation process. Without it, some question marks may remain.

How the draft analysts currently rank Penei Sewell

Sewell has been the number one ranked offensive tackle on most draft boards this year. In particular, Sewell has become the darling of PFF, with his insanely high grades. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has him number two overall on his big board, and the same goes for ESPN’s Todd McShay, who describes Sewell as:

…massive in pass protection and plays a disciplined game. He has the feet to excel as a zone blocker and the power to move defenders in the run game. Sewell has rare upside and can be a starter from day one in the NFL.

Although most still have him as the top prospect in this offensive line class, there was somewhat of a surprise this week in Daniel Jeremiah’s first mock draft. Sewell fell down to pick 10 for the Dallas Cowboys. Not only that, but he was the second tackle off the board, behind Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater.

While Sewell’s dominance isn’t fresh in analyst’s minds having missed the season, it will show when they revisit the tape. He has elite movement skills matched with solid power. The biggest thing to remember is his age. Sewell has only just begun to scratch the surface of his abilities. With the right tutelage, the results could be terrifying for opponents.

Does Penei Sewell fit what the Bengals need in 2021?

As we mentioned in our recent piece on Christian Darrisaw, the offensive line remains a work in progress for the Cincinnati Bengals. Sewell fits the bill as the blindside blocker for Burrow. That means Jonah Williams would probably shift to the right side. It would be a huge improvement for the offensive line compared to recent lineups.

There likely would be some reservation in shifting Williams, who has shown enough to suggest he will be a very good left tackle in the future. However, it is difficult to pass on such a hugely talented player as Sewell. Protecting Joe Burrow has to be top of the agenda and selecting Sewell will ease the minds of many Bengals fans.

Where should the Bengals target Penei Sewell in the draft?

Sewell has been the number one target for most Bengals followers in recent weeks. By grabbing late wins in the season and pushing their pick back to fifth overall, however, landing the Oregon standout has been put in jeopardy.

That being said, there are several quarterback-needy teams who may be looking to get into the top five, allowing Sewell to remain on the board for Duke Tobin and co. While Todd McShay envisions the Bengals moving up for Sewell to pick two in his mock draft, it would seem unlikely that the club would make a splash like that.

The Bengals pride themselves on building their roster core through the draft. Giving up draft capital, and likely quite a lot, would be fairly unheralded. While a trade up seems out of the question, if Sewell is in play with pick five, it would currently seem like a no-brainer for a team needing offensive line help.

If the front office believes the recent hire of Frank Pollack can elevate the group the Bengals could use the fifth pick on a wide receiver or cornerback. In that case, they would likely attack the o-line at the top of the second round, with the likes of Liam Eichenberg or an interior lineman such as Ohio State’s Josh Myers.

Verdict

If Sewell is still on the board when it comes to the Bengals selecting, it would take a brave individual to bet against it. Cincinnati would strengthen their weakest position group with arguably the most talented lineman in the draft. While we may not have seen Sewell reach his very best, having missed 2020, the upside is enough to make you believe the Bengals would finally have found an Andrew Whitworth replacement.