Lions G.M. Brad Holmes downplays first-round pick Penei Sewell’s rough preseason

One of the most consistent observations from Lions preseason games was that rookie right tackle Penei Sewell did not play well. Sewell was consistently beaten by pass rushers and did not look ready to be an NFL starter.

But Lions General Manager Brad Holmes, who selected Sewell with the seventh overall pick, says Sewell will be just fine as the Lions’ starter when they take the field in Week One against the 49ers.

“I believe that he will be ready for Week 1 and I think he’s ready now,” Holmes said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “Yeah, I mean, he’s going through the normal process that a rookie would go through, regardless of where he’s drafted. 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.”

Sewell is only 20 years old and only played a season and a half of college football: He was injured for half of his freshman year in 2018, won the Outland Trophy as the best lineman in college football in 2019, then opted out in 2020 before declaring for the draft in 2021. So he clearly is not a finished product and has a lot of room to improve. But if the Lions are going to put him in the starting lineup from the start of his rookie year, they need him to look a lot better in the regular season than he looked in the preseason.