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Detroit Lions rookie Penei Sewell on moving from left to right tackle: ‘It is not that easy’

For years now, the NFL has considered left tackles more important than right tackles. Most quarterbacks are right-handed, which makes the left tackle the blind-side protector of the most important player on the team. 

In recent seasons, though, more and more teams have been willing to let their best pass rusher come off the left side of the defensive line, which has raised the importance of right tackles. All of that brings us to the Detroit Lions, who selected former Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell with the No. 8 overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft. 

The Lions have Taylor Decker entrenched as their left tackle at the moment, so they’ll be moving Sewell across the line to the right side. It’s obviously a bit of an adjustment for a player who opted out of the 2020 season spent his first two years at Oregon playing on the left. 

“It is not that easy,” Sewell said Thursday, per the Detroit Free Press. “Man, it’s a whole different feel. Again, it’s like, let’s say I’m right-handed so I’ve been writing right-handed my whole life, and then one day you’re just asked to write your full name left-handed at full speed, the same speed that you write with your right hand. So yeah, it’s a little bit of an adjustment.”

That seems like a pretty good analogy. I’ve been writing left-handed my entire life and when I broke my thumb in college, I tried to use my right hand, and it did not go well at all. That said, there are plenty of NFL players that have made the switch from one side of the line to the other. It just takes some getting used to. So far, Lions coach Dan Campbell seems happy with Sewell’s progress.

“He looks like a rookie,” Campbell said. “But he’s a big human being. He looks like what you would think he would look like. Man, he’s got talent, he’s hungry, he’s aggressive. Man, let’s just center back, calm down, watch how everybody does it. Watch the flow, watch your footwork here, take your steps, watch the cadence, listen to these things. Even in three days, you see him improving already. That’s all you can ask for right now. It’s good to have him here and to be with those guys, it’s exactly what you want.”

The Lions are obviously a ways away from competing in the NFC North, let alone the conference at large or for a Super Bowl, so Sewell will have plenty of time to develop and get used to his new position.