When the Detroit Lions made a somewhat surprising move, taking running back D’Andre Swift with their second-round pick, general manager Bob Quinn knew he may have blown his shot at Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara.
“Ultimately, after we took Swift, we’re sitting there staring at him, and we’re like, ‘There’s no way,’” Quinn said on 97.1 The Ticket on Tuesday. “‘There’s no way in 32 picks he’s going to be sitting there.’”
Quinn and his staff stayed patient, though. And as the picks continued to show up on the screen, there was no Okwara. Even though there was a run on edge defenders—Yetur Gross-Matos went 38th, Marlon Davidson and Darrell Taylor went 47th and 48th, respectively, A.J. Epenesa went six picks after that—Okwara still remained.
As the second round was coming to a close, Detroit could have traded up to secure Okwara, but they did have contingency plans in place.
“There were a couple other guys that we liked, don’t get me wrong,” Quinn said. “He wasn’t the only guy that we were starting (at). There were probably four or five that we really liked, and we were really crossing our fingers that (they) were going to be there.”
But the Lions didn’t have to settle for second or third or fourth best. They got the guy they wanted, and they didn’t have to spend anything extra to get him.
“It was an easy send of the pick,” Quinn admitted.
The Lions envision Okwara as part of the plan to replace Devon Kennard, who was released this offseason—a decision Quinn called “tough.” Okwara, combined with the offseason addition to Jamie Collins and the hopeful development of second-year edge defender Austin Bryant, are expected to elevate the play of Detroit’s pass rush that generated just 28 sacks (t-29th) last season.