Football is family. That was the the NFL’s slogan not long ago. Even Rob Lowe from St. Elmo’s Fire and a million other things got in on it. Or maybe that was his football story? Or football makes us? I digress. The point is that it was a thing at one point and the Lions truly bought into it.
On Friday night the team drafted Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara to pair with his brother, Romeo Okwara, in an effort to finally create a pass rush in Detroit. So far, it’s producing hilarious results:
While we’re hoping they will have plenty of room for activities, let’s learn more about the young Okwara with some help from our pal Joshua Vowles over at One Foot Down. Here’s what he had to say about the Lions newest defensive end.
What are your thoughts on Okwara’s time at Notre Dame?
“It feels like Julian was stolen from us. Going into the 2019 season, there couldn’t have been more hype for any other Notre Dame player. Julian was primed for a truly outstanding year, and most of the talk was about him breaking Justin Tuck’s sack records. He got off to a bit of a slow start, but if you go back and watch the film, he was getting mauled (held) play after play. Then, the Virginia game happened, and he showed just how truly dominant he can be and his season got back on track. The injury against Duke with 3 games left (plus a bowl) felt like a robbery.
Overall, I really enjoyed his time in South Bend. Since 2017, he was Notre Dame’s most dangerous pass rusher. For a program that has to recruit a little differently for EDGE players, Julian’s athleticism really helped the Irish defensive line to be much better than a lot of other years prior.”
What are his strengths?
“Julian is freaky strong. You’d think with his thinner frame that he might not play with much power, but that’s exactly what he does. His athleticism is incredible, and has a lot of raw skill ready to be developed. What I love most about Okwara though is his attitude. He’s got an edge to him that his brother never had, and can be incredibly intimidating.”
What are his weaknesses?
“He needs more tools in his toolbox as a pass rusher. Power and speed alone aren’t going to make him a good starter in the NFL. He has to use his hands better and continue to work on his footwork. There were times that he disappeared against the run, so getting him to play aggressively against a rush and take on a run block will be needed immediately.”
Julian’s brother Romeo has been a nice surprise for the Lions since coming to Detroit. Does Julian have what it takes to also be a pleasant surprise?
“I think the ceiling is much higher for Julian than Romeo at this point in his career. Romeo was so young (he arrived at ND at age 16) that his development probably took much longer for me to truly compare. I think for a 3rd round pick, Detroit got a 1st round talent. It may not happen overnight for Julian, but I honestly think he will be a guy Lions fans will come to enjoy.”