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Carolina Panthers

Penei Sewell to doubters: 'Put on the tape'

Penei Sewell

CHARLOTTE – After trading for quarterback Sam Darnold Monday, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said the move didn't rule out any particular direction the team might take with the eighth overall pick in this year's draft.

And the way things are falling, that includes the possibility of one of the things Darnold could use the most.

With the combination of declarations, intentions, and moves made to get quarterbacks in the top three picks, it becomes at least possible that the left tackle many think is the best in this draft — Oregon's Penei Sewell — could now be in the conversation for the Panthers at eight.

Some might prefer Northwestern's Rashawn Slater at the top of a deep group of tackles (a reasonable, if somewhat contrarian position), but Sewell's confident about where he sees himself in the order.

"That's their own opinion. Just go put on the tape," Sewell said Monday. "Everybody just go ahead and watch what I do. Nobody can do what I do in this draft in the offensive tackle rooms. I bring something totally different to the table. And I think people know that.

"But again, people will say whatever they want to say and all I have to say is, 'Put on the tape and watch me work.'"

When they watch that tape, they will see a prospect of enormous dimension and possibility.

Sewell opted out of last season, but he won the Outland Trophy as college football's top interior lineman in 2019. He's still just 20 years old (he won't turn 21 until October), and is already a physical specimen.

He measured in at 6-4 7/8 and 331 pounds at Oregon's pro day, with 33 1/4-inch arms. With that massive frame, he ran a 5.09-second 40-yard dash (faster than Tom Brady), and cranked out 30 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press.

It's an unusual combination of traits, and he mentioned San Francisco left tackle Trent Williams as his favorite player at the moment.

"The way his athleticism and power goes hand in hand is very interesting and exciting to watch," Sewell said.

It's worth noting that Williams just signed a six-year, $138 million contract, which in itself makes him a good football role model. But Sewell might have been talking about himself a bit as well, in that description.

"I like to play real physical," he said. "I like to use my body type to my advantage and to really get up under people's chin and really showcase my mentality also, to go along with my physicality, that I'm coming off the ball every play with violent intentions and that nothing less is coming from that."

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah is one of those who prefers Slater, while pointing out that as good as Sewell is at the moment, he's still a work in progress based on 2019 tape (when, again, he was 19).

"He's explosive, but he still needs to add some strength," Jeremiah said. "In other words, you see him just drive off the ball. You'll see, man, he's quick, he's dynamic with how quick he can get out of his stance. He covers up speed rushers no problem. But in pass protection, sometimes you'll see guys kind of tug and pull him and move him around a little bit.

"He just needs to get a little bit stronger. But he's a young kid at that point in time."

In his year off from football, Sewell said he worked with longtime NFL assistant Paul Alexander, along with former Falcons left tackle Sam Baker, polishing his form.

"I've learned so many different types of little techniques that come along with this game," Sewell said. "I've got with the NFL people, players that played before or coaches that coached in the league for a long time and soaking up the knowledge that they have for me.

"It was just something that I really benefited from this time off. This whole time I've been working on that and being a sponge and also just every day, day in and day out, knowing that I opted out and was sitting out through this time, the next time I have an opportunity to step between those lines, I'm going to make the most of it and that I'm coming with everything that I have. And I'm not coming up short."

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