Lions mocked to land top offensive lineman in first round

Penei Sewell #58 of the Oregon Ducks (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Penei Sewell #58 of the Oregon Ducks (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

There’s been a long-held belief in the NFL that truly good team-building starts in the trenches. That addressing team needs from the inside out, starting along both the offensive and defensive lines, is how to properly build a winner. And make no mistake, the 5-11 Detroit Lions are rebuilding.

That philosophy is something former Lions general manager Bob Quinn certainly believed in. And he proved that by using two of his first top draft picks in Detroit on offensive linemen. Those selections resulted in left tackle Taylor Decker and center Frank Ragnow‘s presence on the team, both of whom are considered key foundational pieces the current regime in the Motor City is now building upon.

Tonight, new general manager Brad Holmes will make his first draft selection for the Lions and set the course for the franchise for the foreseeable future. And there’s been much speculation as to which direction Holmes and the organization with go with the seventh overall draft pick.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times compiled draft predictions from NFL beat writers across the nation In a collective mock of the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. Dave Birkett of Detroit Free Press went with Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell as the Lions’ top pick.

"“This pick probably comes down to a receiver or offensive lineman. This is a deep receiver class. Sewell would start immediately at right tackle, and along with Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow would provide solid protection for Jared Goff.”"

Birkett’s selection of Sewell certainly falls in line with the idea that team-building starts in the trenches. The rookie many consider to be the top offensive lineman in this draft class would instantly slide in as the starting right tackle for Detroit, replacing Tyrell Crosby, who started 11 games for the Lions last season.

Ragnow, Decker, and Sewell along with second-year guard Jonah Jackson and 2020 free agent signing Halapoulivaati Vaitai would represent one of the top starting offensive lines in the NFL this upcoming season. Especially if the latter two can step up their level of play this season.

This offensive line would also seemingly improve both the pass protection for new starting quarterback Jared Goff and the rushing attack with second-year running back D’Andre Swift in the backfield.

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The Detroit Lions’ biggest areas of need, at wide receiver and linebacker, will still need to be addressed. And Detroit only possesses a total of six draft picks going into tonight’s annual collegiate selection event. But their top four picks fall within the first three rounds, which means Brad Holmes and the Lions still have the opportunity to fill those voids with potential starters on day two of the draft on Friday night.