This isn’t about Penei Sewell, I repeat, this is not about Penei Sewell.
This also isn’t a scouting report on the Oregon tackle. I like him as a prospect, I think he’ll be a fine player at the next level, will he be a generational talent? I hate using that phrase so readily, it’s thrown around too much in draft circles these days. He’s a fine talent, and he’ll make a team very happy. However, that team should not be the New York Jets.
The simple fact here is that he will go in the top 5. If he lasts to the Bengals selection at #5, they’re running that selection up to the podium, or at least calling it in from a socially acceptable distance. They’re doing that because they need a left tackle to protect Joe Burrow, they can’t afford another injury like we saw in 2020.
So why would the Jets not take Sewell with the #2 pick overall? Let me explain my logic here.
The Jets do not need a left tackle. I’ve seen people suggest moving Becton to right tackle and starting Sewell on the blindside. There are three reasons why I don’t like that idea.
- Becton is coming off a fine rookie season, yeah he had some struggles and in the end he allowed 7 sacks, but for a rookie he did extremely well on a line that chopped and changed every other game. He was graded highly by PFF and passed the eye test consistently. He’s only going to get better.
- If LaFleur brings a Shanahan style offense to the Jets, then you simply can’t have a 369lb tackle playing on the right side of the line. The success of the system is largely dependent on an off-tackle running game, which means your tackles need to be very athletic and move horizontally with ease. Now Becton moves well for a big man, but you only need to look at the 49’ers right tackle this season, Mike McGlinchey who’s a 315lb tackle that moves well to see that Becton is unsuited to that role. You do not take a RT with a top 5 pick.
- The third and final reason is that the Jets have George Fant, a highly athletic 322lb tackle that moves extremely well. Now the Gase system didn’t really fit Fant’s style of play very well and we really didn’t utilise his athletic ability enough. Take a look at Bent’s superb scouting report to see what the Seahawks did with Fant and I fully expect him to have a much better season in a system that suits him down to the ground. Fant is the exact kind of tackle that works in a Shanahan style offense.
The above is enough for me to pass on Sewell in favour of either a QB or a playmaking WR, or a move down to pick up more selections.
However, if you need more reason to pass on a tackle in the top 5, then I have a few more thoughts.
The 2021 NFL Draft is absolutely loaded with tackle talent. This may be the best tackle class I’ve seen in a long time. Sewell, Darrisaw, Vera-Tucker, Slater, Leatherwood are all likely to go in the first round. Then you have Cosmi, Eisenberg, Mayfield, Smith, Jenkins, Little etc etc. If you want to upgrade your offensive tackle position, you can do it in the late first, second round, you don’t need to spend a top 5 pick on it.
Personally, I’d stick with our tackles. I don’t think that’s where our issues are. You can comfortably go into a season with Becton and Fant as your starting tackles and be a good team. I truly believe that. The upgrade needed on this line is more at the guard position, and fortunately, there are plenty of guards in this draft too, and that’s where that Seattle pick or our 2nd round pick comes into play.
I then took a look at the top 100 tackles in the league in 2020. Only four were taken in the top 5 picks of the draft and 28 were taken in the first round. The average mean of the pick for a first-round tackle is around 15, and remember we’re only talking about the top-rated tackles in football here.
The value in taking a tackle at #2 for the Jets is non-existent. I know Joe Douglas has said that you win in the trenches and I agree with him. Which is why I think when he says that, he’s thinking of upgrading those guard positions. The Jets were significantly better at tackle than they were at guard.
I also think that George Fant is getting a tough time here. People keep talking about Sam and how we need to be patient with him and how this new system is going to suit him, and that’s why we should take Sewell.
Well, you can’t look at the merits of the system change and tell us to be patient with Sam who was statistically the worst QB in the league last year, and not do the same for Fant who was an average to above-average starter in a system that didn’t suit him.
The choice for me is clear, the Jets have three options depending on their evaluation:
- You decide to move on from Sam, you trade him for picks and draft either Zach Wilson or Justin Fields. For what it’s worth, personally, this is my preferred option.
- You decide to stick with Sam and you surround him with playmakers. You decide it’s not worth the risk in trading down and missing out on your #1 playmakers and you take him. Whether that’s Smith, Chase or someone else.
- You decide to stick with Sam and you get a team who’s high on Fields/Wilson to bite and get a haul. That #2 is a very valuable pick and there are teams in this draft who will rate either Wilson or Fields as a franchise guy. You then use those picks to surround Sam with talent.
Again, this is not to dismiss Sewell who’s a fine player. I’m sure he’ll be a good player at the next level, but taking a tackle in the top 5 in this draft, in my opinion, is the wrong choice for the Jets.