This year’s crop of offensive linemen is generally considered to be pretty solid, but one player has stood above the rest for most evaluators.
That player is Penei Sewell, the left tackle out of the University of Oregon. Once he set foot on campus in Eugene, Sewell made his presence felt. He earned the starting job protecting Justin Herbert’s blind side as a true freshman in 2018 and again held that role in 2019 as Oregon won the Pac-12 title.
Sewell decided to opt out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately turned his attention toward the NFL draft. His two-year body of work was spectacular. In 1,376 snaps played, Sewell allowed just one sack. He also earned first-team All-America honors and won the Outland Trophy as a sophomore. Before Sewell, the award — which is given to the nation’s top interior lineman — had never gone to an underclassman.
Now that the draft is nearly here, where will Sewell end up? Oddsmakers at BetMGM have him as a shoo-in to be the top offensive lineman off the board, setting the odds at -500. Next on the list is Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater at +250.
But what about his draft range? BetMGM has set an over/under of 6.5 for Sewell, with +110 odds attached to the over and -140 odds to the under.
In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm, Sewell said he is trying not to pay attention to which teams are most interested, but said the “five-to-10 range” makes most sense. Just like everybody else, Sewell is aware there will almost certainly be a run on quarterbacks in the top five.
“I don’t really like to think about that. I like to control what I can control,” Sewell said. “Maybe from the five-to-10 range because everybody knows quarterbacks are No. 1. At the end of the day, I’m just going to keep my head down and work and I’ll be happy to go wherever I go.”
It would not be a surprise to see quarterbacks selected with the first four picks. If that comes to fruition, Sewell will need to slide in at No. 5 to the Cincinnati Bengals or No. 6 to the Miami Dolphins to go under that 6.5 number.
After the run of QBs, there are offensive weapons like Florida’s Kyle Pitts and LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase that are considered top-10 talents. But Sewell is also in that mix, and there are certainly teams that can use a plug-and-play left tackle who could potentially anchor your offensive line for years to come.
The Bengals at No. 5 could certainly be in on Sewell and they will have to decide whether to go with a weapon for quarterback Joe Burrow like Pitts or Chase (Burrow’s college teammate), or someone to protect Burrow like Sewell. Sewell would also be a fit with the Dolphins if they really want to build with Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback.
In Edholm’s most recent mock draft, he slotted Pitts to the Bengals, Chase to the Dolphins and Sewell at No. 7 to the Detroit Lions.
How many offensive linemen will go in Round 1?
We know Sewell will go off the board somewhere in the first round, but how many offensive linemen in all will go in Round 1? BetMGM set the figure at 6.5, with the over at +110 and the under at -140.
Over the last 10 NFL drafts, there have been 61 offensive linemen picked in the first round — an average of 6.1. Last year it was seven. The two years prior it was six. But in 2017, there were only two.
For this year’s crop, Edholm has Sewell, Slater, USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker and Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw as “near-mortal locks.” That gets you to four. From there it gets interesting.
Edholm projects Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins to slip into Round 1 and also has his eye on two Alabama products: Landon Dickerson and Alex Leatherwood.
“I really wonder if Landon Dickerson's medical evaluation means he still will go Round 1. I have some doubts. So for the Round 1 OL prospects, I think Sewell, Slater, Vera-Tucker, Darrisaw are your near-mortal locks. Then you have Teven Jenkins, who I think gets in. Alex Leatherwood could sneak in there late. That's six if Dickerson doesn't hit,” Edholm said.
“As for Sewell, I am starting to think he makes it past Atlanta and Cincinnati, and he could make it past Miami at 6. Landing somewhere between seven and 10 wouldn't stun me at all.”
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