From one perspective, the Green Bay Packers are in good shape at offensive tackle. With All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Billy Turner, Green Bay has one of the better duos in the NFL. However, Bakhtiari is coming off a torn ACL and might not be ready for Week 1 and there is no depth whatsoever with Rick Wagner and Jared Veldheer pondering retirement while in free agency. Remember, last year’s No. 3 tackle, Wagner, played almost 60 percent of the offensive snaps, so there is a need.
Oregon’s Penei Sewell is our No. 1-ranked tackle.
Malaeimi, a village near the American Samoa capital of Pago Pago, produces football players like perhaps no place on Earth.
That’s where Oregon’s Penei Sewell, arguably the best offensive lineman in the draft class, was born. His brothers play college football, too. Gabriel is a linebacker at Nevada, Nephi is a defensive back for Utah, and Noah is a linebacker for Oregon. They were part of a family of seven that slept on futon mattresses on the floor of a home the size of a garage. In 2012, they moved to the United States – Utah, to be more specific – in hopes of the boys being noticed by recruiters.
“It was my job as a dad to make sure their heads never got big,” the boys’ father, Gabriel, told Oregon Live. “I had my deflating needle to make sure they didn’t get big heads. When they come home, they fall right back in line in the pecking order. We’re not here to do their laundry. They contribute around the house and help their mom. Parenting is constant work.”
Penei Sewell learned those lessons well. In 2019, he was a unanimous first-team All-American and winner of the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman. He also won the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year.
"I think that by position he might be the best player in all of college football," ESPN/ABC analyst Todd Blackledge, in a quote provided by the Oregon athletic department, said before the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. "He's a combination of brute strength and athleticism. He has the strength of an offensive lineman, but he has the feet of a tight end.
“He’s a very athletic kid who gets out in space and just demolishes people. We talk about quarterbacks having some ‘wow’ plays; there's about four or five plays a game, whether it's a pass block or a run block, where Penei Sewell makes you go ‘wow,’ as well.”
That Rose Bowl wound up being Sewell’s final collegiate game, the last of 20 career starts at left tackle. He opted out of the 2020 season.
“I like to play real physical,” he said before Oregon’s pro day. “I like to use my body type to my advantage and to really get up under people’s chin and really showcase my mentality, also, to go along with my physicality, that I’m coming off the ball every play with violent intentions and that nothing less is coming from that.”
Sewell entered the 2020 season deemed the best offensive tackle in the draft. Now, at least in media circles, he’s battling Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater for that distinction.
“That's their own opinion. Just go put on the tape,” he said. “Everybody just go ahead and watch what I do. Nobody can do what I do in this draft in the offensive tackle rooms. I bring something totally different to the table.”
Measureables: 6-foot-4 7/8, 331 pounds, 33 1/4-inch arms. 5.09 40, 4.68 shuttle, 30 bench-press reps.
Stats and accolades: Sewell opted out in 2020 but was a brick wall in 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed zero sacks and seven pressures in 491 pass-protecting snaps. Sports Info Solutions charged him with two sacks and 17 blown blocks (eight runs, nine passes) but running plays to his gap averaged 2.5 yards before contact, according to SIS. He was guilty of two holds. In 2019, he became the first sophomore to win the Outland Trophy. He was a unanimous first-team All-American and winner of the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12’s best lineman as voted on by the conference’s defensive linemen.
NFL Draft Bible says: This is an angry mammoth on the field, full of ferociousness who holds teammates accountable. He possesses long arms, wide hips and is a difficult body of mass to move. His intensity is unmatched. A forceful run blocker who has done his fair share of mauling, Sewell is an elite level pass blocker who owns vice grips that serve as hands. He also understands angles, how to bait opposing linemen and get them out of position on run plays. On the backside of zone, there may not be a more gifted offensive lineman in the class. With his outstanding athletic ability, Sewell is able to cover a ridiculous amount of ground, including on screen plays.
About This Series
Packer Central is introducing you to the top prospects, both on and off the field, in this year’s NFL Draft. The series is starting with the top five at each position, then will add additional players as the draft approaches, with a focus on positions of need.
OT5: Coming up