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NFL draft: Evaluating Penei Sewell and the Panthers

When the Panthers traded for former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold on Monday, their strategy to the draft shifted.

Before that, the Panthers’ high precedence was to draft a quarterback in the first spherical.

Now with quarterback primarily set for the 2021 season, and seemingly 2022, the Panthers will attempt to draft the greatest accessible participant, and amongst them is former Oregon offensive sort out Penei Sewell, who for months was projected to go No. 5 to the Cincinnati Bengals.

But some draft specialists consider Sewell might fall if the Bengals take former LSU vast receiver Ja’Marr Chase as a substitute. If that does occur, the Panthers have a worthwhile choice at No. 8.

Here’s the case for, and the case in opposition to, drafting Sewell:

The case for drafting Penei Sewell

Sewell is taken into account by many groups and draft specialists to be the high offensive lineman in the 2021 draft, and considered one of the high three highest-rated gamers general.

ESPN draft guru Todd McShay has Sewell ranked as the No. 3 general participant on his draft board.

“Sewell is such a good player,” McShay instructed reporters in a convention name Monday. “We haven’t seen him play in over a year, but he’s 330 pounds. He’s long, he’s athletic. He’s not as quick and as sudden as (Rayshawn) Slater from Northwestern, but he’s so hard to get around because he’s so long and big. And once he latches on to you, it’s over.”

He added that he thinks Sewell and Slater might be All-Pro offensive tackles.

Sewell handle maybe considered one of the Panthers’ two most obtrusive wants: Left sort out.

The Panthers haven’t had a constant left sort out since Jordan Gross retired in 2013. Since then, they’ve principally rented left tackles for a yr or two at high-priced contracts that haven’t labored out. Remember Matt Kalil?

Left sort out Russell Okung, who signed with the Panthers to a one-year deal in 2020, was good when he performed, however missed greater than half of the season with varied accidents.

The Panthers have a lot of weapons on offense. But as we noticed in 2020 with a lot of groups, it’s unimaginable to get the ball to these playmakers in case your quarterback isn’t protected.

Panthers normal supervisor Scott Fitterer re-iterated earlier this week that he believes in constructing either side of the line. The offensive and defensive traces wanted to be addressed in the draft.

Sewell addresses that. In 2019, as a redshirt sophomore, he gained the Outland Trophy, given to the greatest faculty soccer inside lineman.

“He’s so incredibly athletic, that’s what sticks out to you initially. He moves like a tight end,” CBS Sports draft analyst Ryan Wilson stated of Sewell. “And he’s only 20 years old, so he’s only going to get better and stronger and faster and smarter.”

Sewell talked with a way of confidence Monday after his professional day. He stated he performs with “violent intentions,” and he strongly believes he’s the greatest offensive sort out in the draft. He took exception to the notion that some draft specialists and groups have Slater forward of him on their draft boards.

“At the end of the day, that’s their own opinion,” Sewell instructed reporters Monday. “But for me, again, just go put on the tape. 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 and I think people know that.”

Sewell was measured at 6-foot-4, 331 kilos at his professional day. He ran a 5.09 40-yard sprint, and had 30 bench-press reps at 225 kilos.

The case in opposition to drafting Penei Sewell

There isn’t a lot of a case in opposition to drafting Sewell.

But it’s truthful to take a look at the incontrovertible fact that he opted out of the 2020 season. Because of that, there isn’t a lot current tape on him, which creates uncertainty. The Panthers are evaluating Sewell based mostly on his 2019 tape and his professional day.

The Panthers might as a substitute select somebody they really noticed in 2020.

“Half of these guys in the first round were either injured or didn’t play,” McShay stated. “So you’ve got to make tough decisions.”

And there’s additionally the incontrovertible fact that it is a deep offensive sort out class.

The Panthers might get a possible starter at left sort out on Day 2. If the Panthers wished to deal with one other want in the first spherical, one they didn’t consider they may get on Day 2 — maybe cornerback — they may have a look at an offensive sort out in the second- or third spherical.

Final verdict

Great groups have nice offensive traces.

And Sewell falling to No. 8 can be a luxurious for the Panthers. He’d handle considered one of their greatest wants and he’s considered one of the high gamers in the draft.

“If you’re trying to protect your quarterback and you have a choice between Penei Sewell or maybe going with a skill position player, that’s a really tough decision,” Wilson stated. “Because you can have Jaylen Waddle running open all day long, if the quarterback doesn’t have time to throw him the ball, it doesn’t matter.

“I think in a lot of ways, Penei Sewell is probably one of the most valuable players in this draft class.”

Left tackles aren’t low-cost, both. And to get a top quality one on a rookie deal for 4 years solely helps the Panthers as they attempt to rebuild their franchise.

It’s doable the Bengals do take him at No. 5, and even the Dolphins at No. 6.

But if he’s there at No. 8, the Panthers ought to have the commissioner on velocity dial to announce he’s coming to Charlotte.

Related tales from Raleigh News & Observer

Jonathan M. Alexander is a local of Charlotte. He started masking the Carolina Panthers for the Observer in July after working at the N&O for seven years, the place he coated a wide range of beats, together with UNC basketball and soccer, Duke basketball, recruiting, Ok-12 faculties, public security and city authorities.
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