With the first three picks likely being all quarterbacks, the draft essentially starts with the Falcons, and there are many ways Terry Fontenot can go about the fourth overall pick. There have been countless rumors from established and credible reporters that Atlanta could be interested in Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Kyle Pitts, and multiple trade down scenarios. There really is no way to differentiate between these reports, and the NFL is notorious for teams using the media as a tool to use against their opponents. The Patriots used it as a motivational tool, and other teams conspire against one another in the draft, essentially a human-involved chess match. Most times, when there’s smoke, there’s fire. Sometimes it’s not always that way in the NFL, and if we look where everyone else isn’t, what do we see? Penei Sewell.
The only thing that points to the Falcons being interested was the report from D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that stated Atlanta would be sending members of their front office to watch Sewell at Oregon’s Pro Day, and also had a virtual meeting with him.
It is purely speculative, but I don’t understand the lack of media interest. Is it because it isn’t a sexy position like quarterback or a flashy tight end? The former Oregon Duck is 6’4” and 330-pounds from Malaeimi, American Samoa, could be the best player in the draft. He lit up his pro day, posting an elite RAS of 9.32 and measured in the upper percentile of nearly every statistic. His foot speed and agility are real on film and in this three-cone time, which only 12 guys have ever matched at his size — per @MathBomb.
Some people graded Rashawn Slater higher than Sewell, to which I laugh at. Sure, the tackle out of Northwestern is as pro-ready as any in this class, but Sewell’s ceiling is astronomical compared to his counterpart due to his rare athleticism. Some people point to his shorter-than-ideal arms, but there are countless — Joe Thomas, Joe Staley, and Jason Peters — great offensive tackles who shared this trait.
The fact is, the young man is 20 years old and hasn’t reached anywhere close to his peak. He mauls people in the run game, both off the line and in space. His agility comes to light when he pulls or reaches and makes incredibly swift movements to gain leverage. His pass protection is his “weakness,” which is just not as great as his run blocking — allowing just one sack over 1,376 snaps. It would be on the franchise who drafts him to develop and maximize his physical gifts by refining his technique. The Falcons offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford is a well-respected developer in offensive linemen’s realms, most recently at Lousiville with Mekhi Becton.
To me, it really is hard to pick between Kyle Pitts and Penei Sewell as the pseudo-fourth overall pick, but I lean towards the trenches in these moments. Pitts could certainly become a Hall of Famer, but Sewell can play guard right now and make an All-Pro team or two before Jake Matthews’ tenure ends, where he could potentially do the same thing at left tackle. Of course, the Falcons brass will do their due diligence, but why isn’t it being talked about so freely as any of the quarterbacks, Pitts, and trading down has been? It could be nothing, and it probably is nothing. Yet, there is a valid question to be raised as to why there isn’t credible interest other than a meeting and attendance at his pro day because the talent and potential are as high as any in this draft.