Brad Holmes not deterred by rookie tackle Penei Sewell’s ‘hiccups’ in preseason

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Penei Sewell might have been the most universally beloved Detroit Lions first-round draft pick since at least Calvin Johnson back in 2007. It was hard to find many Lions fans who didn’t think Sewell, the No. 7 overall pick, was a great choice.

That bullish confidence in Sewell has been shaken by a lackluster performance in the preseason. Sewell struggled in pass protection against both Buffalo and Indianapolis. He had his issues in training camp with the quickness and diversity of NFL pass rushers like Julian Okwara and Jashon Cornell, too.

The man who drafted Sewell out of Oregon, Lions GM Brad Holmes, is not worried at all. He brushed aside any notion that he’s got buyer’s remorse on Sewell or that the big right tackle won’t be a great NFL player.

“I believe that he will be ready for Week 1 and I think he’s ready now,” Holmes said of Sewell during his press conference on Thursday. “Yeah, I mean, he’s going through the normal process that a rookie would go through, regardless of where he’s drafted. That’s a tough position to play out there on that island and he’s sat out for a year. So what he’s done, and I know it’s magnified by what may be a hiccup here or there, but there’s so much of the good stuff that maybe kind of hidden when you really kind of deep dive the film, little subtle nuances that is going to make a big difference.”

Sewell opted out of the 2020 college season and played just 20 games for the Ducks in three seasons, though he was dominant enough as a sophomore to win the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman. The 20-year-old is also switching from left tackle to right tackle.

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The rust in his game has been evident, something Holmes alluded to in his press conference. But Sewell has also posted some impressive reps against significantly higher-level competition than he ever saw in college, and Holmes sees those, too.