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2023 IDP Rookie Profile – Noah Sewell LB, Oregon

@Glosser13 brings you the #IDPNerds breakdown of Oregon LB Noah Sewell.

The Player

  • Noah Sewell
  • Oregon
  • LB
  • 6’2″ 253 lbs

High School

Sewell played his high school football in Orem, Utah, where he attended Desert Hills High School and played QB and LB for two seasons. He would transfer to Orem High School for his junior and senior seasons, playing RB and LB. Sewell posted 18 offensive touchdowns while racking up 100+ tackles and 3.5 sacks in his junior season. The Utah native helped lead Orem to a Utah 5A State Championship as a senior. Sewell was named the 2019 Utah Valley Player of the Year. He was recruited heavily by nearly every major FBS school. He ranked as a five-star recruit and the #2 ILB in the 2020 class. 

College 

Sewell had the unfortunate circumstance of his freshman season happening during the height of Covid. He could only play in seven games due to a shortened season, but that did not stop him from leading his team and all Pac-12 freshmen in tackles. Sewell was named to nearly all major outlet’s Freshman All-American teams and Coaches Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year. 

The younger brother of former first-round pick Penei Sewell returned in 2021 to have his best collegiate season statistically. The young LB would lead the Ducks in tackles (114) and finish second in the Pac-12 in the same category. During the 2021 season, Sewell averaged 8.14 tackles per game while recording four sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception. He was named a semifinalist for the Butkus award and earned Coaches and AP All Pac-12 first team. 

The Oregon LB did not quite have the season he envisioned in 2022. He saw a regression in nearly every statistical defensive category as the Ducks moved on from head coach Mario Cristobal. Sewell played the most coverage snaps of his career this season while also producing 18 total pressures as a pass rusher. According to Pro Football Focus, he would finish the season with a 72.6 coverage grade and a 73.5 pass-rush grade. He opted out of the team’s Bowl game to prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft. Sewell had over 200 tackles and seven sacks during his 2.5 seasons in Eugene, Oregon. 

Strengths

Instincts

The biggest strength I see with Sewell is his instincts playing the LB position. He played RB and QB in high school, and you can see his attention to detail while playing defense. He’s a massive body who moves very well and can enforce his will on an offensive player. He understands what an offense is doing and makes sure he is in the best position to make a play. Sewell does this before the offense has a chance to block him out of a play. His football IQ and his natural ability to be a nightmare to deal with as a run defender make him a very enticing player for NFL general managers. 

Sewell’s coverage ability is not particularly where he shines, but this play shows his instincts and football IQ. He understands his role here as he drops into zone coverage. As Sewell sees the play develop, he knows he can pass off the inside receiver to the next LB. Additionally, he knows the safety who is looking as if Cover 1 is dropping.

As a former QB, he realizes the instant read is to throw the slant to the area in which the safety is vacated. Sewell opens his hips to let the QB know that the throwing lane is there and pivots and turns before the ball is released. This is a textbook on using instincts to make a massive play for your defense. One of my favorite things about this play is watching Sewell turn into an RB as soon as he gets the ball in his hands. He trucks a defender, makes a cut, and tries to get upfield to get as many yards as possible. 

High Motor

As a dynasty manager, the high-motor guys at LB are such a big advantage. The type of players who never seem to give up on a play can be the difference between winning or losing a weekly matchup. Sewell has a way of trying to find the ball at all costs until the whistle is blown. He is not the most athletic player at the position, but he rarely struggles to get to the ball. Sewell has a gift for getting ball carriers to the ground with relative ease. 

Sewell returned as one of the top players for the Oregon defense. The Oregon LB was used in ways that didn’t fully fit his skill set in 2022. However, when you watch his 2021 tape, there’s much to like. This play in the 2021 Pac-12 Championship game was one drive after his interception. He takes on the offensive lineman, uses his strong hands to shed him, and finds the ball carrier. In true Sewell fashion, he wraps him up and ensures he finishes the tackle well. This lets the offense know they should think about blocking him before they run another play at him. 

Weaknesses 

In most cases, when watching Sewell over the years in college, he only gets in trouble when he’s genuinely fooled by a misdirection or motion happening pre-snap. The play above is from 2021 against the Washington Huskies. Sewell is unblocked on a slot screen and takes a poor angle forcing him to try and make an arm tackle. He turns what could have been a two-yard gain into a first down. This is a bad play, and they will happen when you play the LB position.

Missed Tackles

Sewell tends to get away with being over-aggressive and still using his strong arms to bring ball carriers down. At the NFL level, he will be coached out of some of the bad pursuit angles with the high level of competition he’ll face routinely. I wouldn’t consider this part of his game ‘weak’ as much as an area for improvement. If he’s going to consistently put up the numbers we saw from him in the 2021 season, he will need to improve on missed tackles. PFF has him credited with 33 missed tackles over his college career and a 15.1% missed tackle rate. 

Overruns Plays

This and missed tackles go hand in hand. There’s just some misdirection and poor technique that lead to these bad plays. Now nobody is playing the position perfectly, and luckily for Sewell, he has good closing speed. He’s enough of an athlete to get away with this in college. Some of these errors come from scheme design. Sewell was asked to play 99 snaps as a slot defender over his past two seasons. This is not something he can’t do, but most would agree in the box as a linebacker or pass rusher would be where he makes the most impact. Some of the best linebackers in the NFL overrun plays, so this isn’t something that will keep him off the field. Repetition and breaking down film at a much higher level should eliminate some bad plays for the Oregon LB. 

Landing Spot 

Sewell brings a lot to the table as a player, and his current projection is a third or fourth-round pick. I think there are some other linebackers in this class that might be more polished. That could drive Sewell’s value down. We all know the NFL draft better than that. Just because you’re the first player off the board at your position doesn’t necessarily make you the best. 

In the third round, teams like New England, Buffalo, and Denver can be in the market for Sewell. The scheme fit in New England would be ideal for him, but fantasy managers might feel differently about that. We all know Bill Belichick’s hatred of fantasy football. Sewell can step in and be a Day 1 starter for any of those teams. This could potentially make him one of the best values in this draft at the LB position. I’m excited to see where he lands in this year’s draft. 

Fantasy Outlook 

The Oregon Ducks’ LB has shown through his play in college he can be a factor as a rookie LB in dynasty leagues. The 2023 LB class is a bit deeper than most expected, so there’s value to be had later in rookie drafts. The depth at DL and LB in this class will surely make the middle rounds of drafts this off-season more interesting. 

Over the past few seasons, we have seen many rookies make waves in dynasty leagues on the IDP side. Sewell is one of the more safe linebackers due to his ability to play successfully at EDGE and in run support if needed. I wouldn’t put too much stock into where he’s drafted, but as long as it’s not in the sixth or seventh round, you should still consider him a valuable IDP in your rookie drafts. 

The Wrap-up 

As we keep moving forward with IDP profiles, the team at Dynasty Nerds hopes you can get all the information you need to be prepared for your rookie drafts. It’s a good practice to start to form your own rankings pre and post-draft to see how players’ values are changed based on landing spot and draft capital.

Now that the NFL season is officially over, be sure to keep an eye out for all the rookie content coming out daily. Feel free to use all the tools and resources available to you as a #NerdHerd member. 

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