2021 NFL Draft: Why Penei Sewell could be Falcons' first-round pick 

Taking a closer look at why Penei Sewell could be the Falcons' first-round pick 


Editor's note: This is the second of 10 prospect profiles on players who could be the Falcons' first-round pick.

While tackle isn't necessarily one of the Falcons' biggest positional needs at this moment, Sewell is widely viewed as the best offensive lineman in this year's draft class. The acquisition of the former Oregon standout would immediately upgrade Atlanta's offensive line.

The 6-foot-6, 325-pound prospect is considered a "rare breed" at his position because of his size and athleticism. Sewell opted out of the 2020 season to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

At Oregon, Sewell started as a true freshman in 2018. He then went on to become a consensus All-American during his sophomore season and won the Outland Trophy as the top interior lineman in the nation in 2019.

Why he fits with the Falcons

The Falcons allowed 41 sacks on Matt Ryan last year and struggled to run the ball efficiently for a third consecutive season. One of Arthur Smith's biggest priorities in his first season as head coach will be to improve those areas and a player like Sewell could help.

With the amount of pass-catching weapons Ryan has at his disposal in Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst, shoring up the pocket for Atlanta's signal-caller is imperative.

The Falcons have finished in the bottom half of the league in rushing offense since the 2018 season where they ranked No. 27. In 2019, Atlanta finished No. 30 in this area and No. 27 in 2020.

Now that Smith will be installing his new offensive scheme and calling the plays, Sewell has traits that align with what the Falcons' offense is expected to embody under Smith's leadership. Toughness, athleticism and power are all qualities Sewell displays consistently.

Although Sewell is viewed as a starting caliber left tackle in the NFL, he can play both sides. The Falcons return three starters along the offensive line from last season: Jake Matthews, Kaleb McGary and Chris Lindstrom. Matt Hennessy also started two games at center last season in place of an injured Alex Mack.

If the Falcons were to select Sewell, they would be adding a player who can join a position group looking to take the next step and he could certainly help.

Expert Analysis:

"Rare-breed tackle with good size and the elite foot quickness to make the most challenging move blocks the game has to offer. He's an explosive athlete who is better at moving forward than backward at this point, and his tape shows an ability to single-handedly spring touchdown runs (both long and short) with "wow" blocks. He possesses average balance and core strength, but he has trouble protecting his edges when rushers get into his frame. Improvements in technique and strength should be expected, though. While block-finishing needs to be upgraded, his initial snap quickness gives him the ability to take early leads in positioning as both a run and pass blocker. Sewell could take a giant step forward in both departments if he can control the action with better hand dominance. His flashes are exceptional, and his ceiling is substantial. However, questions about play strength and maturity due to his age/inexperience create a little more uncertainty than we usually see with high-end tackle prospects." - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

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