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Grading the Detroit Lions’ selection of Julian Okwara

This is a big win for the Lions.

Nevada v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions went back to the defensive well with their first third-round pick, and made it a family affair by selecting Romeo Okwara’s brother, edge defender Julian Okwara.

Lions fans have long been clamoring for an edge defender to help with this team’s pass rush, and Okwara was billed as one of the best in this draft class. It makes a great story to join his brother on the Lions defense, but was it the right pick?

Here are my thoughts on Okwara:

Great value

While we can debate how much the media’s perception of a player matches with reality, many had Okwara as Round 2 talent or higher. PFF had Okwara as the 28th overall prospect on their big board, meaning Detroit got first-round talent in the third round.

At worst, the Lions got a top-10 edge in this class. At best, the got a top-five guy all the way in the third round.


Okwara has the size to play as a down defensive lineman and the agility to play as the jack linebacker. Detroit could utilize him all over the defense, unlike his slightly-larger brother, who will likely keep his hand in the dirt.

In other words, the Lions got some pass rushing depth on four-man fronts, and a rotational piece to put at jack linebacker in certain situations.

Can he rush the pass? YES! FINALLY, YES!

While it was disappointing to see Josh Uche go to the Patriots, who jumped the Lions late in the second round, Okwara is a solid consolation prize. He tallied 8.0 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in his junior year, and was on his way to doing it again before breaking his leg his senior year.


Yep, he was a huge need. The Lions had one of the worst pass rush win percentages in the league, and they needed a player much more efficient than how Devon Kennard played last year.


I can’t find a reason to dislike this pick. The only risk is that Okwara is coming off a broken leg, but that isn’t expected to be a long-term issue. There have been some arguments about Okwara’s overall value, but he seems like an ideal scheme fit for the Lions, and his technique and physical presence could make him a Day 1 impact in Detroit. Grade: A-


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