As of this posting, Penei Sewell can still be drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. And that would be perfectly fine.
Going back to the days when fans where dreaming of the team adding both Joe Thuney and Sewell in the same offseason, the 20-year old tackle prospect has been linked to the Bengals for several months. He’s been in the limelight for over a year now, and when the Bengals landed near the top of the draft order, it became a match made in mock draft heaven.
Things seemed to have changed since those early days. Sewell is still beloved by the Bengals as a prospect, but there are multiple reasons why he’s not the betting favorite to become the next Bengal. But this is his player profile, so let’s go over the reasons why he should become the next Bengal.
Position: Offensive Tackle
Weight: 331 pounds
Projected Round: Early First
Honestly, what’s not to like?
Labeling any prospect as a “generational talent” has become a lazy exercise. Most of draft content is opinion-based, but here’s a fact: The last time a 20-year old offensive lineman was drafted in the top 10 was Tyron Smith in 2011. Needless to say, that worked out for the Dallas Cowboys. Sewell is not Smith. He’s much thicker, yet somehow is able to move just as quickly.
Simply put, Sewell is built different. He manages to carry 330 pounds like it’s nothing. That density allows him to stonewall pass rushers and absolutely embarrass defenders in the run game. He upends dudes because he’s stupid strong and already has a great understanding of hand placement and leverage. Even out in space, where a lot of young players sometimes struggle, he is so natural and aware of where he needs to be. He’s efficient and consistently takes the proper angles.
It wasn’t always clean when he was on the field, and that’s because he started his first game at Oregon when he was 17 YEARS OLD. The last time he suited up for the Ducks, he had just turned 19 a couple months prior. This can’t be understated. Some players don’t make their first start until they’re 19. They play the bulk of their college careers between ages 19-21 and then typically enter the NFL at 22 or 23. Sewell will be negotiating his second contract when he’s 23. Hell, it might even be signed by then.
So yeah, the last time we saw Sewell, it was a mix of silly dominance with the occasional whiff here and there. The issues he ran into aren’t the kind that can’t be coached out of him under the right guidance. Many point to his sub 34” arms as a detriment to his upside, but his timing and overall athleticism made it a non-issue at Oregon, and it’ll continue to be a non-issue when he gets more seasoning at the next level.
Fit with the Bengals
Yes, he does. He fits.
The main argument that goes with projecting Sewell to Cincinnati is deciding where to play him. A player with his body type and talent was always going to end up at left tackle in college. It’s still the golden spot for offensive lines and that perception of value isn’t going away any time soon. What many people don’t know, however, is that Sewell was a right tackle in high school. He’s actually played that position more recently than Jonah Williams.
This is why Sewell would start his Bengals career somewhere on the right side of the line. The club currently projects Riley Reiff to start at right tackle, so the true opening is at right guard. Would they want to have Sewell just bully defensive tackles for a year before kicking him outside to his permanent home at right tackle? Maybe they’d want to not make that transition and just have Reiff play right guard for a year. Either way, I wouldn’t bet on Sewell becoming the Bengals’ left tackle so long as Williams is around.
Just two months ago we could’ve wrote this pick in with a sharpie. Now, it would almost be a surprise to hear Roger Goodell say Sewell’s name for the Bengals’ fifth-overall pick. But if he does, no one should complain. Sewell is the real deal, he’s going to be good right out of the gate, and he has a great chance of being spectacular for a long time.