The one eyebrow-raising note from Penei Sewell’s pro day ahead of the 2021 NFL draft — arm length — isn’t much of a concern for the Cincinnait Bengals.
Sewell, arguably the nation’s top tackle prospect, measured at 6’4″ and 331 pounds with a blazing-fast 5.09 40-yard dash time and plenty of power.
But as detractors pointed out, his arms measured at just over 33″ despite the other strong measurements.
Luckily for the Bengals, arm-length measurements are an archaic way of evaluating offensive line prospects. Just ask talent evaluator Brandon Thorn, who says 33″ is the baseline for offensive tackle arm length and pointed out some guys who did just fine with that sort of measurement:
This isn’t just picking out the success stories, either. Look at some data compiled by The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr.:
There’s one factor in here most haven’t brought up either when mentioning this measurement debate:
Pollack is back as the line coach (and should have never been permitted to leave in the first place). The Bengals aren’t strangers to drafting guys around Sewell’s arm-length measurement and Pollack is the best teacher and developer of line talent the organization has had in a long, long time.
Because that’s what it comes down to — development of technique. The NFL success stories in the 33″ arm-length range have elite footwork and overall technique that helps them compensate.
Whether Sewell has that on film seems to be a controversial point. But does it matter? Pollack can develop it. And there’s something else to remember:
Sewell is just 20 years old. His monstrous film of him bullying guys in the SEC is from when he was 18 years old. He’s only 20, yet 6’4″ and 331 pounds with good film and testing. That’s the sort of upside you gamble on in the early goings of an opening round.
The fact something like arm length gets nitpicked like this says it all — Sewell is an elite prospect with few issues. This doesn’t mean the Bengals will 100 percent take him, but pairing him with Pollack in front of Joe Burrow sure sounds like a good gamble.