Just weeks before the NFL draft, it seems that every day brings red-hot leads to the fast and furious news and rumor cycle that is the offseason. Reports recently suggested that Denver Broncos' GM George Paton would most likely have interest in trading for Carolina Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater in the wake of the Sam Darnold trade.
Since failing to land Matthew Stafford, the Broncos have been deafeningly quiet in their QB hunt. The Atlanta Falcons have reportedly had “exploratory talks” with teams about trading down in this year’s draft according to Sports Illustrated’ s Albert Breer. So, naturally the theory that Paton could be trying to move up to the No. 4 overall spot to draft a QB makes sense.
This draft class could break records and feature an unprecedented four signal-callers selected consecutively to open the proceedings. QB candidates for the No. 4 pick run from North Dakota State's Trey Lance to Ohio State's Justin Fields to Alabama's Mac Jones.
While the mocksters pour over the hottest takes and rumors from social media, one expert draft analyst is turning some heads in the Mile High City. On Tuesday, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah released his 2021 mock draft (3.0), and instead of the Broncos moving up for a QB, he had the team handpicking Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell at pick No. 9.
“LT Garett Bolles played really well last season, and now you add a bookend on the right side in Sewell,” Jeremiah published on NFL.com.
In 2019, Ja’Wuan James inked a then-record-setting four-year, $51 million deal with $27 million in full guarantees and $32 million in injury guarantees. Since then, he’s played 63 snaps in three games.
James suffered a controversial knee injury in 2019 that drew criticism from coaches and teammates with regards to his inability to return to his starting role. Then he opted out last season, citing COVID-19 concerns and making many wonder in 2021 whether Denver will ever get a return on investment.
I doubt the Broncos will cut James because the release would carry a $19M dead-cap charge. At best, I would predict James’ to play half of the season’s 17 games, which would still present an expensive and ineffective hole at right tackle.
Enter Sewell says Jeremiah, a 6-foot-6, 325-pound tackle born in Malaeimi, American Samoa before moving to Utah in 2012. There he became a four-star recruit who accepted a scholarship to play for Oregon.
Once Sewell arrived in Eugene, he became the first true freshman to start a season-opener for the Ducks in 20 years. He’d go on to dominate the PAC-12, winning the following prestigious lineman awards: the Morris Trophy and Outland Trophy in 2019.
Sewell’s performance also awarded him as co-recipient of the 2019 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year award with co-recipient Tua Tagovailoa, now of the Miami Dolphins but who then played quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Although Sewell's a natural left tackle, comparisons to Trent Williams in the scouting community suggest he has the raw but unpolished talent to anchor the right side of the line. His leadership paired with his explosive blocking and violent hands make him an elite prospect that shouldn’t slip past the top-10.
Sewell’s elite athleticism could also remind Broncos fans of Pro Bowl left tackle Garett Bolles when he was drafted in the first round out of Utah back in 2017 (pick No. 20).
The latest projection from Jeremiah can be described as less than exciting to Broncos Country compared to Denver moving up to draft a QB at the No. 4. overall pick with Atlanta. But at 20 years old, Sewell could be the unlikely hero and right tackle that the Broncos have desperately searched for and still need to this day.
Follow Luke on Twitter @LukePattersonLP.
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