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Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes explains Day 2 picks of Onwuzurike, McNeill, Melifonwu

Confused by the Lions’ picks on Friday? The Lions GM explained his thought process at the end of the night.

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions made three picks on Friday, several of which were big surprises to their eager fans. While some people have praised Detroit for their moves, others are looking for answers after several positions of need went unaddressed.

Late on Friday night/Saturday morning, general manager Brad Holmes explained his thought process with the picks, and why he ultimately picked each player.

Here are the most important quotes from that press conference.

Second-round pick DT Levi Onwuzurike

On what he likes about Levi Onwuzurike:

“He’s a scheme fit. He’s very explosive, very talented. He’s one that I identified early on in the process, I’d say you know back from 2019 when he was still playing and even when he had his opt-out, still just kind of refreshing on his film again last year.”

On nearly trading up to get Onwuzurike:

“He’s been one of my favorite players in the Draft. We did make some attempts to get back up there and then obviously, it didn’t fall through, and then we made some attempts earlier. We made a few attempts to get him, but it’s just sometimes the Draft gods smile on you a little bit and bless you with what you were wanting.”

On his athleticism:

“When I refreshed on his film for the first time last fall during his opt-out and watching basically the whole season on him and that’s when I really, really appreciated his explosiveness and how fast he was. He’s a kid that he can really run for a big man that’s 295 pounds. There’s some plays on tape where he’s just really just chasing down guys to the perimeter and from the backside.

Third-round pick DT Alim McNeill

On his versatility:

“Alim is another one that, you know, for a big nose tackle that’s powerful at the point of attack, he has a lot of upside. He has quickness, he has the ability to do some stuff inside and sub-nickel stuff. So, he has some upside as a rusher as well.”

On his athleticism:

“He seems like a kind of shorter, wider guy, so you’re automatically thinking, ‘OK, he’s your typical two-down anchor nose tackle.’ But then you keep watching him and it’s like, ‘Wait, hold up. This dude’s got some quickness that you don’t usually see from a guy this big and this powerful,’ so he was really fun.”

On taking another DT instead of a more pressing need:

“We get players that we love. We get players that we’re excited about. We don’t say like, ‘OK, we have to get this defensive lineman, we’ve got to get this nose tackle because those are the positions that we need.’ No. We just get football players that we’re really excited about and that we’re hot on.”

On the importance of an interior pass rush:

“Yeah, I think it’s very important.”

“You know, just like you brought up a great point about bringing pressure from the edge, but if you can apply that pressure even quicker on the interior inside, then you can even have more of an impact defensively.”

Third-round pick CB Ifeatu Melifonwu

On how Melifonwu is more than a press corner:

“I remember when scouting his brother years ago, and he’s got the same physical specimen traits for a big, long corner that from the outside it looks like he’s just a press corner, but he’s actually not. How Iffy grew on me in the process is his ability to actually play in off-coverage and actually be able to maneuver, show quickness in a short area, in zone and off-coverage, which usually guys that long and that big aren’t able to do.”

On if he can play safety:

“I do think that he has versatility to do everything. I think he has versatility to play outside, to play back deep and even to play inside in the matchup on big guys. That versatility, he has. But I’ll leave that up to (defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) in terms of where he feels like best fits.”

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