Penei Sewell felt the sting before he entered the NFL prospect conversation.  

The Oregon left tackle says he’s on social media, so “to say I don’t ever see (criticism) is a lie.” 

But before his talent and potential were the focus of fan and evaluator scrutiny, Sewell watched his college teammate Justin Herbert go through the wringer. Questions swirled about whether the Oregon gun-slinger, who skews quiet by nature, could adequately lead an NFL locker room.  

“To see the slander Justin Herbert was getting, I even hurt,” Sewell told USA TODAY Sports over Zoom on Thursday. “I was even hurting. I took it personal, too, like, ‘Why y’all even think this and that?’ Then I was like – just wait. Just wait ’til he has his opportunity. Justin Herbert will do Justin Herbert things."