The New Orleans Saints have a lengthy history of bringing in players with NFL bloodlines. Nick Toon, Jairus Byrd, and Vinnie Sunseri were all draft picks in the Sean Payton era whose fathers played in the NFL. On the current roster, DE Cam Jordan, RB Mark Ingram, WR Michael Thomas, LB Kaden Elliss, and LB Pete Werner all hail from NFL families.
Today's rookie profile covers another player that the Saints added to their NFL family. He’s an undrafted rookie that could add to the team's depth at a thin position.
NEPHI SEWELL, LB
Brother of Detroit Lions OT Penei Sewell, a 2021 first-round choice, Nephi also had two uncles that played in the NFL. A standout at Desert Hills High School in Utah, he attended the University of Nevada for his first two collegiate seasons as a safety.
In two years with the Wolf Pack, he intercepted 2 passes, broke up 4 others, and tallied 9.5 tackles for loss. Sewell transferred to Utah for the 2019 season, but played little as a reserve defensive back. He’d convert to linebacker for the Covid-shortened 2020 campaign and had 2 interceptions, 5 tackles for loss, and 2 fumble recoveries in just five games.
Sewell closed out his Utah career in 2021 with an interception and 7.5 tackles for loss, second on the team. He displayed his athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.67 in the 40 and recording standout marks in the shuttle and cone drills.
As a former defensive back, Sewell has outstanding range. However, his size is a detriment against the run. He often has proper positioning, but gets engulfed by blockers at the point of attack.
Inexperienced as a linebacker, Sewell needs to continue to develop his anticipation in the tackle box. He gets lost in traffic and probably won't be a factor in short yardage or goal-line situations. As a tackler, he shows good fundamentals but can struggle one-on-one against bigger backs and tight ends.
Sewell's strength is against the pass. He shows excellent natural instincts and range in zone coverage. His athleticism and fluid change-of-direction allow him to stay with backs or tight ends in man responsibility.
Once the pass is thrown, Sewell has exemplary ball skills to make a play. He’s rarely out of position against the run or pass and shows excellent read-and-react skills. Sewell also adds value as a special teamer with his speed and open field tackling.
New Orleans has an outstanding duo of linebackers in All-Pro Demario Davis and second-year talent Pete Werner. However, athletic veteran Kwon Alexander remains unsigned, leaving only Kaden Elliss to supply experienced depth. Promising rookie LB D'Marco Jackson was also added with a fifth-round selection.
Nephi Sewell has a great opportunity to earn a job toward the back half of the roster. The Saints value athleticism in their linebackers, which is his strength. His size may limit him to a situational player, but Sewell has the range and instincts in the passing game to grab a roster spot.