Why passing on Penei Sewell could be big risk for Bengals


CINCINNATI — The best way Penei Sewell shuffled his toes and struck his opponents satisfied Oregon coach Mario Cristobal the budding offensive lineman was going to be particular.

Cristobal was recruiting the 6-foot-5, 349-pound Sewell, a Class of 2018 deal with from Desert Hills, Utah, situated lower than 4 miles north of the border with Arizona. Cristobal believed Sewell was destined to be a playmaker, a descriptor reserved for gamers who contact the ball.

Sewell wanted a mere two years with the Geese to ascertain himself as a projected first-round decide on this month’s NFL draft. Many consider the 20-year-old is the highest deal with prospect. If the Cincinnati Bengals, who decide fifth general, move on Sewell, it may very well be a novel danger based mostly on the best way soccer is remodeling.

Cristobal is satisfied Sewell is the perfect pound-for-pound participant within the draft.

“I don’t see a greater performer at any place on the faculty degree,” Cristobal informed ESPN. “People who research movie and perceive the worth of that, it’s screaming at them. It’s leaping out.

“Let’s simply say a few individuals waited a short time on (former Oregon star and present Chargers quarterback) Justin Herbert final yr. They have been wishing they didn’t.”

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Sewell as the highest offensive deal with within the draft regardless of opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 issues. In 2019, Sewell turned the primary sophomore to win the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s greatest inside lineman.

Discovering high quality offensive tackles out of traditionally sturdy applications may very well be a problem as a result of fewer faculty offenses run schemes that resemble conventional pro-style assaults employed within the NFL.

Constructing elite faculty soccer groups within the fashionable period doesn’t essentially imply constructing NFL-quality offensive traces. The earlier School Soccer Playoff winners earlier than 2020 — LSU and Clemson — produced extra undrafted beginning offensive linemen (4) than these chosen within the first or second spherical (zero). Clemson, individuals in 4 of the previous six CFP title video games and two-time winners, have had two offensive linemen drafted since 2015 and no first-round choices within the Frequent Draft Period, in response to ESPN Stats & Info.

Sewell’s worth may very well be increased due to a future shortage of linemen as extra schools construct to compete with the high-powered offensive assaults dominated by nice receivers and quarterbacks.

“I feel sure groups will proceed to be dedicated to creating linemen and can incorporate that of their schemes,” Cristobal informed ESPN. “However there definitely is a shift.”


Alabama coach Nick Saban had sturdy phrases for the coaches liable for soccer’s offensive revolution.

In a clip that not too long ago went viral, Saban jokingly known as offensive masterminds “Taliban” for the way they’ve turned offenses into forces that go away Saban shaking his leg in church, questioning what’s subsequent.

Even Saban couldn’t resist the revolution. In 2015, the Crimson Tide ranked forty ninth within the Soccer Bowl Subdivision in yards per play and 53.2% of their complete yards have been by way of the move. Final season, the Crimson Tide have been second within the FBS in yards per play whereas passing yards accounted for 66.1% of their complete offense.

That shift has not directly affected how offensive traces function. Go-blocking has modified drastically as some offenses virtually completely line up in a shotgun formation and function off a fast passing recreation.

The Large 12 has lengthy been related to one of these offense, a model that has now seeped into the SEC and even the NFL lately. No offensive deal with from the Large 12 has been a first-round draft decide since Lane Johnson went fourth general in 2013.

Kiper stated fewer elite deal with prospects are matriculating to prime schools. That may very well be attributed to excessive colleges in talent-rich areas working much more open, spread-based schemes than what’s seen in faculty.

Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman, who has been an assistant coach for a number of future NFL offensive linemen, stated evaluating tackles out of such excessive colleges isn’t troublesome so long as a recruiter is searching for the correct attributes.

Whereas bodily traits are necessary, Pittman is extra involved with discovering a deal with who’s prepared to play arduous and aggressively.

“The place (as) when you don’t try this, you possibly can have all the scale on the earth, the smarts, the brains, the energy, and doubtless not be fairly good,” Pittman informed ESPN.

Due to the place a quarterback tends to line up and the way briefly he holds the ball, Kiper stated not permitting a sack in a given yr isn’t a terrific metric for projecting NFL success. Fortuitously for Sewell, he enters the league with extra important credentials.

Sewell was a consensus first-team All-America choice in his remaining season at Oregon in 2019. Professional Soccer Focus graded Sewell’s season as the perfect by an offensive lineman since PFF began issuing marks in 2014.

Cristobal stated Oregon’s system options numerous conventional NFL ideas and terminologies, partly to ensure their gamers can translate nicely to the professionals. He referenced former left guard Shane Lemieux, a fifth-round decide in 2020, who seamlessly transitioned into being a starter for the New York Giants as a rookie.

Cristobal, who performed offensive deal with on the College of Miami, stated Sewell is the perfect left deal with he has ever coached.

“What nobody acquired to see was throughout exercises, throughout coaching and preparation for this previous season, this man’s ranges of physicality had gone to a completely new degree,” Cristobal stated. “So in the event that they felt he performed (nicely) the earlier two years, they have been about to get a present, a deal with.”


Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has by no means had a more durable time scouting faculty offensive tackles. Due to the evolution of faculty offenses and the dearth of expert edge rushers, discovering movie that reveals how a deal with’s abilities may translate to the NFL is troublesome.

“It’s a must to search it out,” Callahan stated. “It’s a must to discover it. And you actually gotta be thorough to find out the place you see these guys and the way they venture.”

That’s partially why Sewell is exclusive. Many have Sewell projected as a long-term deal with whereas prospects akin to Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater, the No. 2 deal with within the draft, might play completely different roles, in response to Kiper Jr.

The Bengals might begin Sewell out at guard, much like what they did with Andrew Whitworth when he was a rookie in 2006. It’s a problem Sewell will fortunately settle for.

“I would like to show every little thing that I’ve on my plate to actually come out each day to show that I am worthy to be on this league and to be a deal with on this league,” Sewell stated after Oregon’s professional day. “No matter I’ve to do, and no matter steps that appears like, I’ll do and I’ll accomplish it.”

At his professional day, Sewell stated he needs to play every snap with “violent intentions.” And as for anybody who doesn’t view him as the highest deal with within the draft, he implores the skeptics to look at his movie.

“No person can do what I do on this draft within the offensive deal with rooms,” Sewell informed reporters. “I carry one thing completely completely different to the desk. And I feel individuals know that.”


Cristobal instantly understood that about Sewell when he flipped on his highschool highlights.

Cristobal was mesmerized by the quickness, physique management and agility of a model of Sewell that weighed round 365 kilos, 44 heavier than what Sewell weighed at his current professional day. Cristobal stated Sewell additionally had a knack for adapting in area and staying on his toes.

“The man was simply by no means on the bottom except he was placing a man on the bottom,” Cristobal stated.

In a couple of weeks, NFL groups must resolve if passing on Sewell is a danger value taking. Groups might go for a receiver akin to Florida’s Kyle Pitts or LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, particularly a membership akin to Cincinnati that has employed a fast passing recreation in coach Zac Taylor’s two seasons.

Pittman, the second-year coach at Arkansas, stated grades for offensive linemen can differ between evaluators. One crew’s prime prospect may very well be a mid-round prospect for one more membership.

“There’s been some guys I’ve thought could be very excessive draft picks or within the mid rounds that went in free company, and there’s been guys that I assumed have been a lot decrease that went a lot increased within the draft,” Pittman stated. “I’m undecided the figuring out issue. I feel it’s all about wants and people issues.”

Some may have some skepticism about taking Sewell after he didn’t play for a season. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay stated Sewell might have solidified his standing as a top-five decide if he had performed in 2020. Nonetheless, McShay has Sewell as the primary offensive deal with drafted and together with Slater, has the potential to be an All-Professional.

“He’s lengthy, he’s athletic,” McShay stated in a teleconference on April 5. “He’s not as fast and sudden as Slater from Northwestern, however he’s so arduous to get round as a result of he’s so lengthy and large. And as soon as he latches on to you, it’s over.”

Within the fashionable recreation, there’s no assure when the following participant like Sewell will probably be out there. That’s a danger NFL groups passing on him have to be prepared to take.

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