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Patience has long been running thin with the Detroit Lions.
Nearly surpassing the Cleveland Browns as infamous franchises responsible for a conveyor belt of failed quarterbacks and losing seasons, the Lions hold hope that every lottery pick results in a step in the right direction. Or a respite from failure.
This year’s No. 7 pick belonged to Detroit, selecting offensive tackle Penei Sewell out of Oregon.
Expectations were high for the consensus best lineman going from the 2021 draft class. After an offseason sample size full of missteps and losing to edge rushers, Lions fans are growing concerned over whether their first-look at their first-rounder was a Sewell getting acclimated to the league, or a pick that ultimately went for bust.
Detroit Lions General Manager Brad Holmes addressed the bustling bust rumors, and said the rookie’s development is on track for a starter’s role.
“I believe that he will be ready for Week 1 and I think he’s ready now,” assured Holmes, a first-year GM for the Lions.
Holmes inspected the preseason tape and confidently assessed that the same Sewell from Eugene, OR is playing on the Lions’ offensive line — also chalking up the slow start to some rust.
“Yeah, I mean, he’s going through the normal process that a rookie would go through, regardless of where he’s drafted,” added Holmes. “That’s a tough position to play out there on that island and he’s sat out for a year. So what he’s done, and I know it’s magnified by what may be a hiccup here or there, but there’s so much of the good stuff that maybe kind of hidden when you really kind of deep dive the film, little subtle nuances that is going to make a big difference.”
Despite the Lions’ return to uncertainty at quarterback with the loss of Matthew Stafford, the team hopes that Sewell can help shore up the O-line to allow former Rams QB Jared Goff to find his groove.
With running back D’Andre Swift aiming for a big sophomore season after a promising rookie campaign, his production, alongside Goff’s, throughout the season may be a direct gauge of whether Penei’s rust has been shaken off, or is slated to make the lineman a project over a sure-fire starter.
It could also serve as an extension of the organization’s struggles to both retain and develop high-level talent.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela