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The 2021 NFL Draft class is being lauded for its playmaking prospects. The incoming group of wide receivers, elite at the top, is also incredibly deep and there is a potential generational pass-catching talent at tight end in Kyle Pitts out of Florida. Teams are also jockeying for pick positioning to grab the top quarterbacks, as the first three or four selections are expected to be signal-callers. Risk is involved in taking any player inside the top 10 of the draft, but there is one elite prospect who appears to be a sure thing. It's not a quarterback or wide receiver; it's offensive lineman Penei Sewell out of Oregon.

In 2019, Sewell became the first Oregon player to win the Outland Trophy, which is awarded each year to the best lineman in the country. According to Oregon's official website, he finished his sophomore campaign as the top-graded offensive lineman in PFF history (since 2014), and led the nation with a PFF run-blocking grade of 95.3 while finishing third in pass-blocking with a grade of 91.1. Sewell proved during his time in Eugene, Oregon that he was talented, consistent and versatile. The University of Oregon says he allowed just one sack over 1,376 snaps in two years!

Recently, Sewell sat down with CBS Sports to discuss his strengths as a prospect, who he would compare himself to and his mindset heading into the NFL. Sewell decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season, as did several of the top prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft. While he hasn't played in a football game in over a year, Sewell told us he was glad he made the decision to opt out since it gave him a jump start on the draft process, as well as a chance for the 20-year-old to figure out who he was as he grew personally and professionally. 

"The experiences that I had and really the lessons I've learned in those six months are really something I don't want to give back," Sewell said. "And to really go through the process that early, I got to find my routine as a professional."

Sewell is young, but he has always had a strong support system built on family values and discipline. That discipline came from family members with military backgrounds, as Sewell had grandpas and uncles who served in the Army and Navy. He applied lessons learned from his role models to how he carried himself as a person, which also included how he played the game of football. Sewell partnered with USAA, official NFL Salute to Service Partner, to share how those close to him forged the man that he is today. 

"The values I've learned from all of them changed me into the man I am today," said Sewell. "One that really stuck out that each and every one of them said was discipline. My great-grandpa told me that it's the foundation of whatever I want to do. Just knowing that, and taking it all to heart." 

It's pretty remarkable to see Sewell's rise as a football player over the past few years. Even at the age of 19, he established himself as one of the best linemen in the game with his attractive frame, willingness to get to the third level and his incredible versatility. But to Sewell, his greatest strength is his football IQ. 

"The knowledge of the game, to be honest," Sewell responded when asked about his greatest strength. "I think my understanding of different angles to get the job done and how I can really observe defensive schemes, how they disguise a look and how they are going to bring it and the overall game. I feel like I'm a student of the game because of my passion behind it. I really love coming in each day, putting in the work -- and also on my own time I love to watch football. Whether that's watching film and breaking down a certain defender or just enjoying a game on TV. So I think that sets me apart from everybody else, how I observe the game and how my knowledge of the game improves every time." 

Where will Sewell land in the draft?

Sewell is considered by pundits to be an elite prospect, but where he falls on draft night is very much in question. Depending on what happens in the top four and if the Atlanta Falcons trade down with a quarterback-needy team, Sewell could fall towards the bottom of the top 10. Two of our CBS Sports NFL writers have Sewell going No. 5 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals, while two others have him falling to the Carolina Panthers at No. 8 overall. The Bengals are an interesting team because they could definitely use an offensive lineman to keep Joe Burrow upright. Burrow wasn't able to finish his rookie campaign due to a serious knee injury he suffered on a sack against Washington in Week 11. But at the same time, the Bengals could also use a wide receiver, and many expect Burrow's former LSU teammate in Ja'Marr Chase to be available at No. 5 overall.

It's certainly a quandary, so we asked Sewell why a team needing both a wide receiver and a tackle should opt for the latter. 

"For me, it's because the quarterback has to be protected at all times," said Sewell. "Yes, a receiver can help out the quarterback in cases, but if the quarterback can't get rid of the ball, then it's just going to look bad on both ends." 

Sewell says there's one player who can help both the quarterback and the wide receiver, and that's a stud offensive lineman. Improving the offensive front and giving the quarterback that kind of confidence to know he has time to throw the football without getting blasted helps everyone on the offense. 

We also asked Sewell how much he cares about hearing his name called early on draft night. He responded by saying that the draft is a celebration, and he wouldn't feel sour if there is a run on quarterbacks at the top of the draft.  

"Na, I would not be mad at all," said Sewell. "Just because that's their moment, quarterbacks get their moment too so I wouldn't want to talk bad about someone else's moment. If quarterbacks go, quarterbacks go and it's not meant for me. Again, I go back to my mom telling me everything happens for a reason and it's part of God's plan. Yes, I believe that I'm a top-three prospect in this draft, but at the end of the day I'll go wherever I go and if a team picks me then that's where I'm meant to go."

Sewell's best position, and who he compares to

Not all players who played left tackle in college come into the NFL and play at that blindside spot right away. Sewell appears to be one of those players who could potentially do that, however. He told us that he's prepared to play at left tackle if the team that selects him asks him to do so. 

"Yes," Sewell said when asked about if he could play on the left side immediately. "I believe that I have the attributes and the ability to really come in and be a plug-and-play guy. Just come in and play wherever, whether it's left tackle, right tackle, guard or center. I'm willing to do what it takes to help the team win, and I'm willing to put my pride to the side of where I think I should play for the team's success. As for me, yes, believing in yourself in a certain position is a huge part of playing in the NFL. But I really just want to win, and whatever that looks like I'm doing whatever it takes. Yes, I believe I can come in and play left tackle for a long time, have a good career. But again, I'm willing to play wherever on the line."

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that Sewell has been training at right tackle as well, in case the team that selects him places him on the right side for his rookie season. Either way, Sewell just wants to contribute however he can. Whether it be in his rookie season or a couple of years down the line, Sewell is going to make a major impact along an offensive front. When asked who he would compare himself to, Sewell chose one of the best left tackles in the NFL. 

"I'd like to say Trent Williams," Sewell said. "I think we both have the same body type and also athleticism. The way he gets out in space, I love watching how he does that and the way in pass pro how he uses different angles and hand techniques whether it's knocking down the inside hand or just kind of hand placement in itself. So I think our game styles are similar."

Sewell is not only willing to play wherever asked along the offensive line, he also wants to become a leader for the franchise that selects him. So, what should NFL teams know about the kind of person and player he will be at the next level?

"I'm passionate," Sewell said. "In anything I do, in everybody around me, I really put my all and my heart into it, and I'm ready to put my body on the line and I'm ready to put my heart on the line so that everybody else around me can get the success that we need to. And I'm coming in every day the same person with the same energy, and to also one day hopefully be a leader for the team. And that goes along with earning the respect of my peers, earning the respect of my coaches and the organization as a whole. So just coming in with those two things, being passionate and later on working my way with that passion to become a leader."

Not only does Sewell have the makings of an elite prospect, but he also appears to have the right mindset entering the NFL draft. He's willing to play in whatever position necessary and desires to be a leader when he earns the respect of his franchise. No matter when Sewell hears his name on draft night, he's more than ready to attack this new challenge with everything he has.