Professional Football Hall of Fame Player Anthony Muñoz approved Oregon tackle Penei Sewell before the 2021 NFL Draft.
So why didn’t the Bengals follow through on that endorsement? That’s a legitimate question after Cincinnati selected LSU catcher Ja’Marr Chase with the No. 5 overall pick on Thursday.
As a result, Chase and Sewell will face each other for the rest of their careers. Sewell spoke to Sporting News as part of a partnership with USAA before the draft and heard Muñoz’s endorsement.
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“I can’t let that go to my head and be complacent,” Sewell said. “I listened to it, it put a smile on my face and created another motivation. When one of the best of all time in the position says that about me, it gives me the confidence in my mind that I can do my job to the best of my ability. My skill. “
Sewell, who allowed just one sack in two seasons at Oregon, was selected by the Lions at No. Seventh.
Sewell opted out of the 2020 college football season, but that didn’t affect his draft status. He is one of the safest first-round picks and Detroit’s fourth offensive line pick in the past seven years.
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“The offensive line is a unique position,” Sewell said. “Everyone has different things that work for them. For me, it was about going through the process and seeing if things work for me and see if it fits for me.”
Sewell seemed like the logical choice for the Bengals knowing that quarterback Joe Burrow had 32 sacks and suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2020.
Instead, Cincinnati chose Burrow’s favorite target at LSU. Chase caught 84 passes for 1,780 yards (21.2 receiving yards) and 20 touchdowns in 2020. It’s a power move for Burrow to get Chase in Cincinnati, and it could work.
Burrow still needs more protection. Cincinnati tackled the offensive line with Riley Reiff in free agency and still has 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams at tackle, and will likely add depth on Days 2 and 3 of the draft.
Reiff was Detroit’s first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. In 2021, the Lions selected a solid offensive lineman to build around new quarterback Jared Goff under first-year coach Dan Campbell. Detroit was expected to have a catcher in most of the simulated drafts. However, taking Sewell made more sense.
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The role reversal is interesting, and the pick will be questioned if Cincinnati can’t better protect Burrow under third-year coach Zac Taylor in 2021. Did the Lions take advantage of the Bengals passing Sewell?
That’s something to keep in mind in the short term.
If Sewell is who he thinks Muñoz is, then it could become a long-term question that keeps popping up in Cincinnati.