DE Ronnell Lewis (Oklahoma) - Round 4, Pick No. 125
The Detroit Lions continued their run on defensive players and players from Oklahoma in the fourth round by selecting defensive end Ronnell Lewis. The pick came after the Lions traded down in the fourth round with the San Francisco 49ers. Although Lewis is considered a linebacker by most, the Lions plan to use him as a defensive end.
Strengths: Lewis is intriguing as a pass rusher because he’s fast and closes on the ball carrier in a hurry. He plays with a lot of power and aggression and is hard to keep blocked. Is patient enough to stay at home in the run game and not allow a cutback lane. High upside.
Weaknesses: Underdeveloped as a pass rusher. Needs to build counter moves before he can consistently be relied on to get after the passer. Mostly inexperienced dropping back into coverage. Didn’t get along with coaches and had academic issues. Will be a developmental player developmental players coaches have to be patient with.
Possesses an impressive physical/athletic skill set, a "plus" motor and a real passion for the game. I don't think he's ever going to be a top end pass rusher in the NFL. However, as a 6-8 sack guy long term who can help out on special teams and give you all he has play in and play out, I think he warrants a second round type grade.
Lewis is an early-entry junior who will likely be moved back to his more natural position of outside linebacker. He played defensive end his last two years, and his frame bodes well for a move. He was a productive player for the Sooners who could even make the extreme jump from end to outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, considering that rushing the passer is not a key asset in his arsenal. He has fourth- or fifth-round value and should make early contributions on special teams.
Positives: Fluid, smooth athlete with a developing game. Plays with good pad level, displays good quickness and is fast off the edge. Quickly changes direction and shows the ability to run down ballcarriers in pursuit. Occasionally stood up over tackle and displayed skill rushing the passer.
Negatives: Must develop more moves and become quicker disengaging from blocks. Average instincts in space.
What he brings: Lewis has a thick build and exceptional point-of-attack skills. He flashes as a pass rusher with his ability to dial up with power moves. He's still developing in terms of instincts and recognition.
How he fits: On paper this looks like a deep group and a solid rotation. This is a defense that wants to generate most of their pass rush from their front four with no blitzes. However, Kyle Vanden Bosch is 34 years old and Cliff Avril is playing under the franchise tag and if not signed under a long-term deal, could leave in a year and the depth is decent at best. Lewis could be effective as a rotation edge guys especially against the run. This defense had a nine-man DL rotation at times during the 2011 season. If they play some 3-4 fronts, he could move to OLB and they might tinker with the idea of looking at him SAM position in the 4-3.
2009: 23 tackles, 1 sack, 2 FF
2010: 38 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD
2011: 59 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 1 INT
- Lewis brings the pain
- Lewis highlights
- More highlights
- Lewis' combine workout
- Lewis vs. Nebraska (2010)
- Lewis levels somebody in middle school (yes, middle school)
- Lewis released from hospital following concussion in 2011 Fiesta Bowl
- NFL.com's draft profile of Lewis
Outlook for 2012
With all of the talent at defensive end, Lewis may have trouble breaking into the rotation in 2012. He has a lot of raw talent but needs time to develop as a defensive end. That doesn't mean he won't contribute to the Lions in his rookie season, though. Lewis is an excellent special teams player and should be a big contributor to the Lions' coverage units in 2012. With the way he hits, he is very similar to Zack Follett (like the "Pain Train," Lewis also has a cool nickname: "The Hammer"), and I would expect to see him make some highlight-reel plays on special teams this year.