Lions offensive line coach Hank Fraley compares Penei Sewell to Hall of Famer

Hank Fraley spent time toward the end of his playing career on the same line as a Hall of Famer, and Penei Sewell reminds him of that guy.
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Through three NFL seasons, Detroit Lions right tackle Penei Sewell is on an early track to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's of course too early to make a firm declaration, but health-permitting the 23-year old two-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro will have a bust in Canton someday.

Hank Fraley played center for 10 years (2001-2010) in the NFL, with the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams. He has now become one of the top offensive line coaches in the league, and that would be the case even if he didn't have the high-level pupils he does on Detroit.

Fraley played four years (2006-2009) with the Browns, starting every game in his first three seasons there. He shared an offensive line in Cleveland with a Hall of Famer who famously did not miss a single snap until he suffered a torn triceps during what would be his final season.

Hank Fraley gives Penei Sewell some Hall of Fame praise

Fraley was among the Lions' assistant coaches who spoke to the media on Tuesday. Via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, he praised Sewell (who wouldn't) while offering a comparison to the Hall of Fame offensive tackle he played with in Cleveland.

"He reminds me a lot of Joe Thomas, just how he prepares, how he takes care of himself, his mental mind makeup and going out there on that daily grind to become a good player or great player like Joe," Fraley said. "So that’s what I get to see, that daily competition within himself and with everybody else out here. It doesn’t stop."

Thomas was once the NFL's highest-paid offensive tackle, as Sewell is now via the big contract he signed this offseason. Fraley wouldn't declare Sewell will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer like Thomas was, but he did note how the Lions' captain has not changed since signing his new deal.

"It definitely didn’t change him in the bad way," Fraley said. "The great thing about himself, he stays grounded and humbled. He definitely earned it. I’m so happy for him and his family for that, but he’s still hungry as he was before he got that contract."

It's still amazing to realize Sewell will only turn 24 during the coming season. He has come to embrace his role as a leader and a tone setter for the Lions, along with being the best in the league at his position. His being rewarded as all of those things was always inevitable, and the Lions didn't wait to get it done.