Penei Sewell had been preparing for Friday afternoon for a long time. The 20-year old America Samoa native began training for his all-important workout as soon as he knew for sure that opting out of the 2020 college football season was in his best interest. It’s safe to say that his decision was the right one.
Sewell impressed all kinds of NFL personnel, including all three of Duke Tobin, Zac Taylor, and Frank Pollack, with the latter running him through the positional drills at Oregon’s pro day. Sewell ran a 5.09 40-yard dash, a 7.8 three-cone, and a 4.68 short shuttle after he jumped 28” on the vertical and an insane 109” on the broad at 331 pounds.
The only real surprise to many was his height of just 6’4 7/8” and arm length of 33 1/4”. Former Bengals right tackle Willie Anderson told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com that last measurement is the only thing left to ponder about Sewell, but everything else was exactly as expected.
“The kid had a great day,” Anderson said. “The arm length is the only serious question. He showed what he’s showed on film. He’s explosive, he’s athletic and he matched that up with what they thought he’d run. Big dude. A great day for a big dude.”
Anderson and his former coach Paul Alexander have each worked with Sewell in the past. Anderson first knew of Sewell when he was coming out of high school. If anyone knows what athleticism looks like in a 330-pound lineman, it’s the three-time All-Pro right tackle who now trains young linemen for a living.
But Anderson also had the luxury of having 35” arms. The magic number around the league is at 34” for tackles, with the minimum threshold usually at 33”. Does it matter that Sewell is barely above the accepted minimum when he’s an elite athlete?
“I don’t know. I really don’t know,” Anderson said. “Does it give you extra push faster when guys get into your chest? Does it make you use a certain kind of technique differently? Maybe a guy with longer arms can be more patient and push a guy around the quarterback? I’ve heard guys say it doesn’t matter. I’ve heard some line coaches say they live and die by it. But maybe he’s just so athletic, it doesn’t matter. Or maybe it’s just a matter of using another technique.”
2021 really is the year of fast 40s and small arms. Only two tackles projected to go in the first 50 picks, Christian Darrisaw and Alex Leatherwood, measured in last month with at least 34” arms. It’s hard to use that against Sewell when he’s an amazing athlete for his size. The Bengals have also never drafted a tackle in the first round with Sewell’s arm length, but they’ve also never drafted a receiver that high with Ja’Marr Chase’s 30 6/8” arms, so one trend is definitely getting broken later this month.
What did you think of Sewell’s pro day? Let us know in the comments below!