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Romeo Okwara is playing like a top-5 pass rusher

Yeah, for realsies.

NFL: Washington Football Team at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It was three weeks ago to this day that we put together a Romeo Okwara appreciation post. In it, we claimed the Lions edge defender was playing like a top-10 player at his position. At the time, Okwara ranked 10th in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric and was tied for sixth in PFF’s Pass Rush Productivity statistic.

Well, it turns out top 10 may have been an underestimate of his abilities. After three more solid performances out of Okwara, he’s now knocking on the door of being a top-five pass rusher in this league.

Okwara has moved up to seventh in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric—with a 24 percent success rate, same as J.J. Watt. As for PFF, he’s now third in PFF’s pass rush productivity metric among edge defenders with at least 100 pass rushing snaps, only trailing T.J. Watt and Joey Bosa.

Using another PFF metric—simple pressure rate—Okwara still cracks the top five:

If there is one downside to Okwara’s play this year, it’s been his run defending. PFF has his run defense grade at just 49.8 this year, down from 64.5 last year.

While the raw statistics still remain somewhat pedestrian for Okwara—6.0 sacks, 12 QB hits—it’s been a huge year for the 25-year-old defender, and it’s coming just at the right time for him, too. His contract is up at the end of the year, and with the prime of his career still ahead of him, he could be in for a big payday.

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