It doesn’t take much to rile people this day and age in the sports community. Penei Sewell is just the latest example of how loud social media is.
The latest example of this outrage on social media follows a report from an NFL insider, Albert Breer, who reported following Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell’s pro day that NFL teams had some maturity concerns about Sewell.
Oregon LT Penei Sewell check in at just under 6-foot-5 and 331 pounds at his Pro Day, put up 30 reps on the bench and, per one scout's watch, ran 5.11 in the 40-yard dash.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 2, 2021
There are maturity concerns with him. But his potential is unlimited. Could become the best LT in football.
Of course, social media exploded with outrage. Many NFL Draft people in the community claimed that it was racism holding back the man who has been considered the consensus top offensive lineman in the class. Some NFL Draft media analysts have called Sewell a “generational prospect.”
Of course, I haven’t reported such things. Sewell was, for most of the class, my second-ranked offensive tackle. Now, he sits as my third tackle in the class, behind Rashawn Slater from Northwestern and Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech. My concerns weren’t about his maturity, rather they were more about his raw upside and the fact that he didn’t play in 2020, prohibiting me from seeing his growth this season.
Is the rumor true?
The first question that I ask when seeing a report not being accepted in the NFL Draft community; is it true? Oftentimes, when a report comes out, I’ve already spoken with someone around the league about the issue. However, this one blindsided me because I hadn’t heard it yet. I reached out to Dan Shonka, the creator and owner of Ourlads, to see what I had heard. He told me that he had heard things, but didn’t know any specifics. “Partially due to his age,” Dan told me.
I reached out to a couple of other sources. “He is immature,” I was told by an NFL scout, who quickly added, “but someone will take him.”
“So just a general he hasn’t taken that step from boy to man then,” I pressed for clarification.
“There are so many like him,” the scout responded.
How Justin Fields has been the base of this social media stir
The social media outrage is really fueled by the response and lack of enthusiasm shown from the league regarding Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Over the last week, it’s become pretty clear that Fields, highly regarded in social media circles, will not be going in the first three picks of the NFL Draft – and instead, three other quarterbacks in this class are expected to be selected instead.
It’s not that Justin Fields isn’t a good quarterback – he’s a very solid quarterback in his own right. In fact, he is tied in my grades for the second-best quarterback prospect in the class with Alabama’s Mac Jones. The problem that Fields has is that he isn’t the traditional prospect at his position. It’s harder for players like him to translate to the next level if they can’t get the proper coaches and leadership built around them to scheme them to success.
Rumors of Fields desire to play the game.
Of course, rumors floated around this week that NFL teams were concerned with Fields and his desire to play the game. ESPN’s NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky reported that on NFL Live, and quickly made it clear that it wasn’t his position, but what he had heard around the league. People criticized Orlovsky for reporting that, saying that it sounded like it came from “second and third-hand sources.”
The fact of the matter is this: Fields doesn’t enamor the NFL, who has struggled to transition these types of players into the league. People point that Fields 4.44 forty yard dash at his pro day is second at his position to Robert Griffin III (Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray didn’t run forty’s entering the league), a player who struggled to translate and despite his speed and arm talent couldn’t fit into multiple schemes.
This is what the NFL is concerned about; the uncertainty surrounding Fields. NFL jobs are on the line when you’re picking a quarterback, and you really want to make sure that you get the right one.
Isaiah Wilson has heightened NFL concerns with maturity
The Tennessee Titans took a chance in the 2020 NFL Draft when they selected offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson with their first round pick. There were rumblings that Wilson was immature in NFL circles, but Titans general manager, Jon Robinson, obviously liked the upside that Wilson had with his raw traits and physical dominance.
It has already gone down as one of the worst draft picks of all time.
Wilson played a total of two NFL snaps his rookie season, hardly ever making it to team meetings on time or showing much interest in playing football. After his rookie season, the Titans shipped Wilson and a draft pick to the Miami Dolphins.
Wilson lasted three days with the Dolphins – showing up four hours late to his league-required physical test, missing his first team meeting, and showing a lack of interest. The Dolphins cut him. Two days later, news broke that Wilson had been arrested following a police pursuit where he had attempted to run away from the cops.
Wilson’s recent failure is fresh in the minds of the NFL.
Wilson is an extreme example of immaturity going wrong in the NFL, but this example is fresh in the minds of the league. That makes this a bigger deal than it normally is. Think about it – are you more likely to remember the last time you saw someone get hurt by an individual or the time years and years ago? Obviously, you’d remember the recent example at first.
Wilson is one of the worst examples in recent memory, if not the worst. Teams that see shades of Wilson in Sewell will remember what happened, even if it’s a sliver of a shade.
NFL Sapient: The full circle
Let’s come back around and talk about Penei Sewell. He’s twenty years old, he’s about to be twenty-one in October. I think some of the bigger concerns around his game aren’t from his age or lack of maturity. Allow me to explain.
Sewell shows a lot of upside and promise as an excellent offensive tackle in the league. He is, after all, the only sophomore in history to win the Outland Trophy. Regardless, Sewell showed raw tendencies on tape when he played in 2019. He leaned too much into some of his run blocks, for example, giving up some of his balance. That’s why he’d end up on his feet against stronger pass rushers. His plant was a little bit raw because of his lean. I thought he could recognize concepts and assignments better.
All of these things that I named are fixable – but I didn’t get the chance to see if Sewell had worked and improved on that over the last year. I have to project his growth in that area. Then, I have to assume he will be ready to play after sitting for well over a year with no real contact. That’s a lot to project.
With the latest concerns that Isaiah Wilson brought to life regarding being mature enough to handle the money and the league, Penei Sewell will bring that concern to some NFL teams. It’s going to happen. Obviously, no one in the league thinks that it will prevent him from being picked high. He’s just not the generational talent that people have in media have made him out to be.