The 2021 NFL Draft features a lot of impact players at various positions. However, when there is a buzz about a once-in-a-generation offensive tackle, scouts and general managers of teams needing offensive lineman take notice. The last time there was this much buzz regarding an offensive lineman was when Joe Thomas was selected by the Cleveland Browns. Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell has the same high-level reputation as Thomas. However, Sewell is not alone in that discussion as Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater is equally as impressive.
Sewell looks like he could be a pro bowl offensive lineman right away. Yes, Sewell has the strength to succeed at the next level. However, he also possesses proper footwork for an offensive lineman. He has quick feet and great agility for a lineman his size. He doesn’t just block one defensive player per play. He uses top-notch football instincts and IQ to look for the next defender to block. He will quickly become a quarterback’s best friend. He can also create big gaps for running backs. He is the ultimate pass and run protector. He doesn’t just succeed at pass protection or run protection. Sewell does it all. He uses his eyes to identify main pass rush threats and quickly springs into action to take two or three defensive players out of a play. He is just there for every single block. It’s rare you see Sewell miss a block. His agility is noticeable as is his ability to pancake defenders. Sewell consistently blocked Auburn’s Derrick Brown who was selected seventh overall by the Carolina Panthers. Sewell’s hand technique is solid and once he gets his hands on a defensive player, the play is over. The defenders have very little chance to slip past Sewell once he gets his hands on them. He just needs to improve on finishing blocks and not being too quick to block the next defender.
Slater is almost as good as Sewell. It may not seem fair that he came into the draft overshadowed by Sewell but that was the case. Slater possesses quick feet and good football instincts like Sewell. He took on one of the best defensive ends in college football, former Ohio State Buckeye Chase Young who was selected by the Washington Football Team with the fourth overall pick in 2020. His hand technique and footwork allow him to win against edge rushers. Will Slater also block multiple defensive players on each play? Slater is good at finishing his blocks. He has the strength and quickness to take on any edge threat with relative ease. Slater has versatility and played both offensive tackle positions. There is some talk that Slater looks more like a guard than a tackle but he could still be an offensive tackle at the next level.
Sewell and Slater must work hard on being able to pick up on zone blitzes. They need to make sure they are aware of the positioning of linebackers. This will be critical to their development.
Sewell and Slater will be off the board with top 15 picks. The Cincinnati Bengals will select Sewell with the fourth overall pick in the first round. The Los Angeles Chargers will select Slater with the 13th overall pick.
We will be back next week with another edition of NFL Draft Profiles.