Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell is considered one of the elite prospects heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. His name has floated around the Miami Dolphins, currently holding the sixth overall pick, as a potential target, though pass catchers seem to bump him from ever being anything more than a side-note as a possible pick. News from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Friday, however, could force Miami into a second look at Sewell.
Left tackle is the money position on the offensive line. It is the position where a player is often left alone on an island and asked to protect the blindside of a quarterback. It is the place where a player like Jake Long can be the first-overall selection and sign a $57.75 million contract (pre-rookie wage scale). It is the spot that is the most critical of the five offensive linemen.
Unless you have a left-handed quarterback. Everything flips in this case, with the blindside of the quarterback now the offense’s right, making you need a dominant right tackle. Moving from a left tackle to a right tackle is not as easy as simply lining up in a different position. The stance, the footwork, the schemes are all mirror images. It takes a deliberate effort to break the muscle memory and provide the versatility that can allow a player to fill in on either end of the line of scrimmage.
The Dolphins have that left-handed quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa.
According to Rapoport, Sewell is putting in that effort. Sewell, as Rapoport writes, “is preparing for the possibility that someone with an entrenched [left tackle] drafts him [and] puts him at [right tackle] for a year.” What if a team with a left-handed quarterback were to select Sewell and put him at right tackle, not for a year, but permanently?
Adding Sewell at right tackle and sliding Robert Hunt inside from tackle to guard could answer a lot of questions for Miami’s offensive line. It would allow them to build the line around Tagovailoa and give him a chance to move form a dink-and-dunk quarterback to a passer who can threaten the entire field. The talent in Tagovailoa’s left arm is there. Getting the Draft’s top offensive tackle to block his blindside might be the exact right move for Miami this year.
Sewell doing the work to prove he can be a tackle on either end of the line of scrimmage could force Miami to re-look the Oregon prospect.