Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
With Decker on the shelf due to a finger injury, does moving Sewell to the left side make sense?
Cross your fingers that Taylor Decker, the Detroit Lions starting left tackle, isn’t out for long with a reported finger injury of his own.
After using their seventh overall pick to draft Penei Sewell in the 2021 NFL Draft to put the finishing touches on their offensive line, the Lions have to build the plane in the air before their regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Shuffling pieces along the offensive line was a hallmark of the Matt Patricia era with the guards rotating in and out of the game, but once Sewell was drafted under the new regime, many considered Detroit’s offensive line to be officially solidified—and one of the best up-and-coming units on paper in the league.
And with a single injury to the team’s left tackle, the offensive line is suddenly in disarray.
Reports suggest Sewell will move from right tackle to left tackle—his natural position he played at Oregon—to make his NFL debut. But after spending the offseason making the transition to right tackle, many talking heads and Lions fans are wondering out loud whether or not shifting Sewell to the other side is right for his development both in the short term and long term.
This leads us to today’s Question of the Day…
Do you think Detroit should move Penei Sewell to LT after Taylor Decker’s injury?
With the news of Decker’s impending absence on Sunday, the Lions are faced with the tough challenge of figuring out the best possible offensive line combination on the fly.
On Decker, here are the three alternative lineups Campbell laid out:
1. Start Nelson at left tackle.
2. Move Sewell to left tackle, start Nelson at right tackle.
3. Move Vaitai to one of the tackle spots and start Logan Stenberg at right guard.
Which would you prefer?
— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) September 10, 2021
Lions head coach Dan Campbell made mention of three alternative lineups for Detroit’s offensive line on Friday morning. The options included replacing Decker with Matt Nelson at left tackle, moving Sewell from right to left tackle while starting Nelson at right tackle, or kicking Halapoulivaati Vaitai out to a tackle spot and placing Logan Stenberg as Vaitai’s replacement at right guard.
Many still believe Sewell’s best position long-term is left tackle, but after spending an entire offseason learning the other side of the offensive line, it’s reasonable to wonder if the Lions should stick to the development plan Sewell was on before Decker’s injury. From the preseason, it’s clear how much Sewell is going to be a work in progress playing a position he hasn’t played since high school, so getting him the reps at the position he’s projected to play is paramount.
Of the options laid out by Campbell earlier, I think moving Sewell to the left side is the best move the Lions can make not only for his future, but in the right here, right now.
Plenty of fans have accepted that this iteration of Lions football won’t be the winningest team in the league. With that in mind, Sewell lining up at left tackle and across from premier pass rusher Nick Bosa shouldn’t be something concerning to fans already rooting for draft position. Sewell having a strong showing at his natural position could be just the kind of confidence boost Sewell could use to begin his NFL career. If he struggles against Bosa and Co., this coaching staff seems like the exact group of leaders who could help Sewell learn from his mistakes and improve.
Improvements are key for this rebuilding franchise, and in order for Detroit’s offense to stand a chance on Sunday, they need their best lineup on the field. If that means Sewell playing left tackle, so be it.