DETROIT, Mich. — With the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft the Detroit Lions drafted the best available player.
His name was Penei Sewell and immediately expectations were through the roof for the Lions rookie offensive tackle.
However, in Sunday's season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, he showed why.
"It was big to be the first one in my family to be in the NFL and just to have this platform and really represent my name," Sewell told the media after Sunday's 41-33 loss.
After training all off-season at right tackle, Sewell was moved to left tackle just days before kickoff after an injury to Taylor Decker.
The challenge was steep as he got the start across from NFL Pro Bowl edge rusher, Nick Bosa.
"You can see the star players have one more step on the others that I've faced through the preseason," Sewell added after the game, "so you really have to lock in on cadence, get off the ball, set yourself in a perfect position."
The 20-year-old proved to be up to the challenge allowing just two hurries and zero sacks in 81 snaps against Bosa.
The performance earned him outstanding reviews from head coach Dan Campbell.
"It was late in the second [quarter] and I was going to say something on the headset like this kid is playing pretty good but I didn't want to do it because I didn't want to jinx him but from afar, I really felt like he did hold his own."
It's a position Sewell has played for years, including during his outstanding career at Oregon.
"I really felt comfortable out there at left tackle," Sewell said, "there was no other choice, I was going to play it come game time, so I had to be ready."
Pro Football Focus grades every player in the NFL and graded Sewell as the 11th best offensive tackle in the NFL in week one but he's still not satisfied.
"I have to get better on a couple of things, my hands are out of whack and pad level came too high on a couple so I'll go back to the drawing board and get ready for next week."
Still one month away from his 21st birthday, Sewell is enjoying the ride and making his entire family proud while doing it.
"To be able to be in this position man it's a dream come true," Sewell smiled while holding out a lei that his mother gave him after the game, "to see that smile on his [my dad's] face and see him all hyped up, I'd give up anything just for that."
While he's only one game into his NFL career, the future is bright as Sewell hopes to become an anchor for the Detroit Lions franchise moving forward.
"I gotta win every rep, not only for myself but for the team so we can get that dub at the end of the game."