Most know the last name Sewell due to former Oregon offensive tackle and top-five pick Penei. But another Sewell made waves in Eugene over the last couple of years. Oregon LB Noah Sewell possesses an alluring scouting report, but where will he land in the 2023 NFL Draft?
Noah Sewell NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Oregon
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’1 1/2″, 246 pounds
- Arm Length: 31 5/8″
- Hand Size: 10″
Sewell’s college dominance was expected. Not just due to the name on the back of his jersey but because of his high school performance. After spending two years at Desert Hills High School as a quarterback, he transferred to Orem HS. The move proved to be career-altering, with Sewell making the switch to linebacker.
He left Orem with 206 total tackles (28 for loss), 7 1/2 sacks, four interceptions, and four forced fumbles. As a result, Sewell earned a five-star rating and was the No. 1 recruit in Utah, the No. 5 commit in Oregon’s history, and the No. 13 overall player in the 2020 class.
Sewell picked up right where he left off, leading the Ducks in tackles as a true freshman and receiving Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year. 2021 was much of the same, with Sewell earning a first-team All-Pac-12 nod as well as a semifinalist spot for the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker.
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Entering 2022, it seemed Sewell was a shoo-in for the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Yet, after a subpar season under former Georgia DC Dan Lanning’s tutelage, Sewell plummeted down draft boards. However, it’s important to note that Sewell was limited to non-contact practices all season as he dealt with various injuries.
The Oregon LB also answered questions about his decline in production at the NFL Combine, stating, “I was trying to do too much. I felt like I was the only one out there, but in reality, I had teammates with me, and I was putting too much on my shoulders.”
Despite his seeming fall from grace, the Oregon LB is still one of the top prospects in the class. Across his three collegiate seasons, Sewell racked up 215 total tackles, 20.5 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, two INTs, nine PBUs, and three forced fumbles.
Noah Sewell Scouting Report
With his size, Sewell is a bit of a throwback middle linebacker. Had he come out 10-15 years ago, he’d be a lock for the top 20. He moves like a smaller player, lending to his ability to disrupt opposing offenses. And it’s easy to see why many NFL draft pundits took a liking to Sewell early on.
“Men lie, women lie, the tape doesn’t.” At least, I think that’s what Jay-Z said. Either way, let’s turn on the film and discover what NFL franchises can expect from Sewell.
Where Sewell Wins
There is no other place to start this section than with Sewell’s sheer physicality. His size is a conduit for a devastating ability to come downhill, stack and shed blocks, and fill gaps in the run game. Stored power in his hands, a muscular upper body, and a thickly built lower half render Sewell an increasingly rare LB prospect that can take on offensive linemen and win consistently.
The brutality and overwhelming power strength he owns at just 20 years old is utterly ridiculous. If he gets a free shot at the QB or ball carrier, the refs might as well blow the play dead.
In run defense, the Oregon LB can shock offensive linemen with his length and cinder-block hands. Sewell can also disengage blocks and accelerate, dip under overaggressive opponents, and use his physicality to cut off rushing lanes and meet ball carriers in the hole.
Moreover, he has flashed pre-snap recognition skills to set himself and his teammates up for success. Sewell is also a legitimate pass-rushing weapon. He thrives as a blitzer, especially when he has time to gain speed and simply freight train the opposition.
Rushing off the edge on occasion isn’t out of the question either, as he has enough athleticism to threaten the arc with speed and the overwhelming strength to bull rush lighter tackles. That speed also appears in pursuit, where Sewell tracks down rushers with ease.
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While Combine testing numbers shouldn’t be the be-all-end-all, they help quantify what we see on tape. If they don’t match what you saw previously, it’s a reason to rewatch and try to discern why they didn’t add up.
For me, Sewell’s Combine performance wasn’t surprising, as it correlated with what I saw on film. At 6’1″ and 246 pounds, he recorded a 4.64 40-yard dash, 33″ vertical, 9’7″ broad, and 27 bench reps.
While he’s a bit of a throwback linebacker who controls the box with brute force, Sewell is no slouch in other facets. He won’t ever be a Devin White, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, or even a Trenton Simpson in his own class — LBs who fly around the field with blazing speed and can line up in the slot.
But Sewell can match up with most tight ends and running backs in space. Much of his coverage prowess stems from his football IQ, especially in zone. He can read the eyes of QBs and uses his length to muddle passing lanes.
An underrated aspect of Sewell’s scouting report is his durability and mental toughness. He exited early with minor injuries, but he never missed a game in his college career. Additionally, he contributes on special teams, primarily on the field-goal-block unit.
Sewell’s Areas for Improvement
It’s not all sunshine and roses with Sewell. His positives outweigh his negatives, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Firstly, Sewell needs to improve as a tackler. He’s missed more open-field tackles than you would like, especially for his size.
It doesn’t seem to be a technique issue, although Sewell can drop his head and leave his feet early at times. It’s more so due to him over-pursuing angles and coming in out of control rather than balanced. That stems from a general overaggressiveness to Sewell’s game. Now, I’d rather a prospect need to rein in their mentality than try to light a fire under them, but it’s about balance.
Outside of overrunning rushing lanes and pursuit angles, Sewell will bite heavily on play-action or double-moves in coverage. A simple head fake can make him trigger downhill because he’s so eager to lay the wood and make a play.
Additionally, Sewell’s sideline-to-sideline range is above average, but his lateral spryness isn’t. He can’t change directions on a dime, and his lack of fluidity limits his ability in man coverage and overall range. In zone, he can stay locked onto the QB for too long, leading to receivers slipping into open areas behind and to the sides of him.
That lack of spatial awareness is ultimately what drags Sewell down the most. Some prospects have an innate feel in coverage, but the Oregon LB is not one of them. The Ducks did their best to take Sewell out of coverage-first situations, and NFL defenses will likely need to do the same, at least early on.
Current Draft Projection for Oregon LB Noah Sewell
Linebacker is the running back of defense in the NFL draft. It’s a less valuable position, forcing talented players down the board. Yet, a prospect of Sewell’s caliber won’t slip too far. He’s a MIKE linebacker with a physical build you just won’t find in many cycles.
Still, Sewell must clean up his tackling, awareness in coverage, and overaggressiveness. He won’t ever be an elite instinctual or anticipatory defender, but he can supplement that deficiency by reading play development more effectively.
If he doesn’t, NFL offenses are going to chew him up and spit him out. But Sewell plays to one speed, and that’s 100 miles per hour. He’ll make mistakes, but you’ll never have to worry about his buy-in to the team or the system.
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Every team in the league could use a linebacker that can displace take-on blocks, rush off the edge, blitz, and rack up tackles in the middle of the defense. Sewell’s hair-on-fire brand of football will endear him to every defensive coach, as will his first-off-the-bus physique.
The Oregon LB is more than just a bloodline player. Sewell is a defensive catalyst and should be one of the first 3-5 LBs off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft. Also, don’t rule out a full-time position switch to EDGE, as there, Sewell’s limitations in coverage are mitigated, and he’s already proven he can win there.