Prior to the NFL draft, new Lions GM Brad Holmes said he wanted players who loved the game of football.
Well he’s one-of-one so far after drafting offensive lineman Penei Sewell (Oregon) with the seventh overall pick on Thursday night.
“It’s a way of life for me, not just a game,’’ Sewell said on a Zoom call shortly after his name was called.
The 20-year-old said the Lions didn’t show too much interest in him until later in the process and then they wanted to get to know him as a person.
He was visibly excited and ready to get to work.
“The fit is awesome, the way coach (Dan) Campbell kind of approaches the game is the way I like to come – real physical each and every day, get better that way,’’ said Sewell who started 20 of the 21 games he played for the Ducks. He opted out of the 2020 season.
He’s familiar with some of the offensive lineme including Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow and Tyrell Crosby who was at Oregon during his time there.
“To be a part of that room and to be able to join them is a blessing,’’ Sewell said. That’s a lot of knowledge and a lot of years in that room, coming in I’m going to soak it all up and be a sponge.’’
When the Lions made the pick, a TV camera picked up the celebration in the Lions war room at Allen Park. You saw plenty of hugging and jumping around in the Lions war room with Holmes, Campbell, owner Sheila Ford Hamp and others.
Sewell, who grew up in American Samoa, started his first game at Oregon when he was just 17 years old. His young age could be a factor moving forward when he’ll be negotiating his second contract when he’s just 23.
“To be honest I haven’t even started yet, that’s how I feel there’s a lot to do, there’s a lot to be done and the sky’s the limit,’’ Sewell said. “I’m ready to tap into the potential and ready to go to work to fulfill the dream.’’
At 6-foot-5 and 331 pounds, he also made a little history. According to this NFL draft profile, the last time a 20-year old offensive lineman was drafted in the top 10 was Tyron Smith in 2011. Needless to say, that worked out for the Dallas Cowboys. Sewell is not Smith. He’s much thicker, yet somehow is able to move just as quickly.
Plenty of speculation had him going to Cincinnati with the fifth overall pick, but the Bengals chose WR Ja’Marr Chase.
The Lions have five more picks in the next two days, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Round 2: No. 41
Round 3: No. 72
Round 3: No. 101 (from Rams)
Round 4: No. 112
Round 5: No. 153