It is becoming more and more likely standout offensive tackle Penei Sewell is on the board for the Denver Broncos’ ninth overall selection in the 2021 NFL draft.
If, and it is a big if, the Denver Broncos remain locked in at the ninth overall selection they may have an elite talent fall into their laps.
During the season, most fans would not have imagined a player like Penei Sewell could be an option at the top of the draft.
As the draft process has moved along, information suggests that Sewell, not a quarterback or cornerback, may be in play for general manager George Paton.
As fellow 2021 draft prospect, offensive tackle Rashawn Slater moves up the draft board, Sewell seems to be losing a bit of steam with no fault of his own.
With offensive skill position players, quarterbacks, and Slater in the mix to be drafted early, Sewell continues to look like the “odd man out”.
The buzz around the NFL is that four quarterbacks will go in the top five, and maybe five in the top eight if another team strikes a deal for their future signal-caller.
Alabama teammates, wide receivers Jaylen Waddell and DaVonta Smith, and top prospect LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase are likely to land in the top 10 as the Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, and Cincinnati Bengals could all use dynamic pass catchers.
Kyle Pitts is a unicorn playing tight end. Pitts is in discussion to be the best prospect in the draft.
With all of those players, including quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Wilson, in play at the top of the draft, Sewell seems to be right there for the Broncos with the ninth overall selection.
I believe Paton’s plan is to move back in the draft to accumulate talent, in part because I believed Sewell would be selected.
Now, how the draft plays out does not, in any way, diminish Sewell’s outlook as a player. The information suggesting other players being selected ahead of him does not scream a “red flag”, it screams opportunity.
Sewell has been phenomenal during his young career. He has dominated in the Pac-12, providing his quarterbacks with time and the run game with gaping wholes in the run game.
His constant presence provides the offense a luxury of utilizing other players in a variety of ways as Sewell will take care of his assignment more than nine out of 10 times.
And to think, Sewell is only 20 years old at the time of the draft. One can assume, he should only get better.
Couple Sewell’s youth with offensive line coach Mike Munchak and the possibilities are endless.
Many would question the selection, “why would the team draft a left tackle with Garett Bolles on the roster”?
First, if you believe in drafting the best player available (BPA), Sewell will most certainly be that. On most draft boards, Sewell sits anywhere from the second-best prospect to the eighth or ninth-best prospect on the low-end.
If you are afforded the second-best prospect in the draft at the ninth selection, the value is just too much to pass up.
So, the second phase of this is where would you play Sewell with Bolles entrenched on the left side?
Sewell could easily slot into the right tackle position as a long-term fixture, or an immediate starter. He is already preparing to play on the right side, so his transition may not be as difficult as one may believe.
Though Ja’Wuan James is listed to start on the right side, he has not played regularly since 2018. Couple his lack of time on the field with his extensive injury history, and it is safe to assume James will not play the full 17-game schedule.
Additionally, the Broncos dead cap hit for James is the same if he plays or doesn’t play. Meaning, the team can move on from him knowing its cap situation will remain stagnant.
According to Spotrac, James comes with a cap hit of $13 million for 2021 and a dead cap hit of $14 million. But the team would save $10 million in cash. Those cash savings could be appealing to use for upcoming contracts with Courtland Sutton, Dalton Risner, and Bradley Chubb.
Furthermore, it does not seem like the coaching staff and players believe in James which suggests he may not be in the team’s plans past this year anyhow.
If James is not in the plans moving forward, why not grab the premier talent at a premier position.
Additionally, Sewell could play inside this year if there is an injury to either guard Graham Glasgow or Risner.
In the end, adding Sewell could provide an upper-echelon offensive line for years to come. The addition of Sewell would give the Broncos not only the best offensive line in the AFC West but potentially a top-3 offensive line in the game.
Imagine an offensive line for the next several years consisting of:
Left Tackle – Garett Bolles
Left Gaurd – Dalton Risner
Center – Lloyd Cushenberry
Right Gaurd – Graham Glasgow/Netane Muti
Right Tackle – Penei Sewell
It would be in Paton’s best interest to truly consider Sewell with the ninth overall selection if he were to fall. I assume the conversation is happening as we speak.
Denver fans should prepare for Sewell to be there on April 29th as the Broncos are on the clock.
As the game is still won upfront, having a top-tier offensive line will help any team’s offense and especially its quarterback. Drew Lock would have all of the necessary pieces to produce and would be out of any excuses. If Lock doesn’t work, the team has everything their next option would be to win.