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noah sewell oregon ducks linebacker

Meet Noah Sewell, the Best Linebacker in College Football

  • Brentley Weissman
  • June 24, 2022
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Oftentimes folks believe you can find a starter-level linebacker talent late in the draft or for cheap in the free agent market, which is true to an extent, but not completely.  It won’t be for Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell.

While you certainly can find starters at linebacker in the mid rounds of the draft, that should not dissuade a team from investing high capital in a linebacker if said linebacker is that good of a prospect. Like running backs, a difference-making linebacker can not only change a team’s defense, but the identity of the football team. Just think about the type of impact players such as Ray Lewis, Patrick Willis, Luke Kuechly and Devin White have all had on their teams once they were drafted. A good linebacker is arguably the best thing a defense can have. I know many will argue they’d rather have a star edge rusher or a lockdown corner but a true difference-making linebacker can have the same if not more of an impact than those two positions. A linebacker who can read and react and come downhill and make plays in the run game, while also possessing the athleticism and instincts to be a playmaker in coverage allows the defense to be scheme agnostic and able to match up against any personnel the offense rolls out with. Additionally, as a captain of the defense, linebackers are relied upon to get the unit in the right spots and ensure the correct call is made on the field. Long story short, just like running backs, linebackers certainly do matter. 

In today’s NFL, the game is all about spacing and match-ups. The rules allow for offenses to have the advantage and team’s lean in on that fact. Offenses are more inclined to spread formation out and move the ball quickly and across the field through the air and on the ground. Because of this, defenses must be able to cover more grass and cover sideline to sideline. As the second line of defense, linebackers in today’s game must be able to run and play well in space and for the most part, it’s the linebackers who possess those qualities that have been drafted high. Player’s such as the aforementioned White, Roquan Smith, Jamin Davis and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah were all highly touted players coming out of college and all of them excelled at playing in space and making plays sideline to sideline. The issue is however that because these players are so athletic, oftentimes they are light and lack physical mass. They give up the ability to come down hill, stack and shed, and bang in the box against the run. In a perfect world you have a linebacker who has the athleticism and fluidity to play in space but one that also has the size, strength and physicality to play downhill, but of course those are few and far between. Luckily for NFL decision makers, one such linebacker will be eligible for the draft in 2023, and his name is Noah Sewell.

For those of you who don’t know, Noah Sewell is indeed the little brother of Detroit Lions star offensive tackle Penei Sewell and New Orleans Saints linebacker Nephi Sewell. Noah Sewell is entering his junior season with the Oregon Ducks and is primed to be one of the first linebackers to hear his name called in April’s NFL Draft should he declare. In two seasons with the Ducks, Sewell has more than lived up to his five-star pedigree. He has amassed 159 total tackles, 6.0 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles. Sewell was named 2020 Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and also was named to the first team All-Pac-12 in 2021. He has quickly become the heart and soul of the Duck defense and one of the biggest playmakers in college football. 

As a prospect, Sewell has everything you covet in a middle linebacker. Sewell possesses outstanding size for the position and is well-built with a muscular upper half and thick lower body. He is a very good athlete with excellent closing burst and good overall speed and change of direction. In the run game, Sewell displays excellent eyes and instincts and an ability to trigger downhill in a hurry. He has rare take-on ability and can displace ensuing blockers with ease as his hands are so powerful. He is a good overall tackler but will occasionally miss tackles as he will come in out of control and not fully come to balance. In the passing game, Sewell shows above-average instincts in zone coverage and has the athleticism to match in man versus tight ends and running backs. He does, however, need to improve his technique in coverage and play more under control as his physicality in coverage leads to penalties. He is an outstanding blitzer and has excellent snap anticipation and the ability to finish at the quarterback.

While Sewell may not be as rangy as White or as good in coverage as JOK, he has more than enough athleticism to excel in today’s NFL. Additionally, it’s just a matter of time before team’s start to zig while defenses zag and slowly go back to the smash mouth style of offense to counter the lighter defenders’ defenses are trotting on the field. Having a player like Sewell who can come downhill, stack and shed, displace blockers at the point of attack, and still make the play allows a defense to be able to defend against anything an offense throws at them. 

As we get closer to the start of the college football season, Noah Sewell will undoubtedly be a player many NFL evaluators focus on. While I love the player, it’ll be important for Sewell to continue to show that he can play well in coverage and that he can play a little less reckless which will go a long way in fixing his issues as a tackler and in man coverage. If Sewell can do that, look for Sewell to be the second member of his family to hear his name called in round one. 


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Brentley Weissman