The Detroit Lions have gotten a deal done with another key member of their NFL Draft class, agreeing to sign defensive lineman Julian Okwara to his rookie contract.
Okwara, out of Notre Dame, was the team’s selection with pick No. 63 in the draft. He slipped down the board and the Lions snapped him up to add some depth to their needy pass rush. It’s a huge need filled by Okwara, who will join his brother Romeo Okwara on the same defensive line.
Now that the ink is drying on the contract, the only thing to see is how well Okwara fits in up front.
Julian Okwara Called Lions Draft Steal
Detroit might have been able to steal multiple players along the way as they set out to craft their roster in the draft. Pro Football Focus took a look at naming the biggest steals in the entire draft, and the site credited the Lions with finding a pair this year, more than any other team in the NFL at this point.
The first steal they identified was Okwara, an edge rusher that PFF was extremely high on as the No. 28 overall player on their board Detroit got at pick 63. Here’s what Anthony Treash wrote:
“Although he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 11 this past year, there’s no reason Okwara should have been available in the third round. With his explosiveness off the line, overall athleticism and long arms, Okwara was a first-round talent in this draft. Prior to getting hurt, Okwara was having one of the top seasons in college football at his position by owning an elite 90.4 pass-rush grade.”
From there, the Lions didn’t have to wait long to find their next steal. They traded up to get him in offensive guard Jonah Jackson, a player credited as one of the best pass defending guards in the draft and PFF’s 40th rated player. The Lions scored him with pick 75.
“No one in this draft class has better pass sets than Jonah Jackson. He gets on defensive linemen rapidly and can play anywhere along the interior. While playing for Rutgers and Ohio State the past few years, Jackson logged snaps at every interior position and performed incredibly well in pass protection, recording a pass-blocking grade on true pass sets above the 90th percentile. He’s the best pass-protecting interior lineman in this class.”
Obviously, the Lions hope these players, along with the others they selected, help infuse some much needed talent on their team. If they end up getting better in the years ahead as a result of these players, it will only merely prove the point they were perhaps a bit underrated.
Julian Okwara Stats
Brothers are now teamed up in this scenario, as the Lions currently have Romeo Okwara on their roster to rush the passer up front. Julian is no slouch, however, and will give the Lions some immediate pass rush punch off the edge. The team figures to be in the market for edge players this offseason, but Okwara’s length and ability to disrupt could prove huge, as could the possible comfy fit with the Lions.
During his time with Notre Dame prior to injury, Okwara was very productive for the team. 79 tackles, 15.5 career sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions show a player who can do a lot to blow up a game and disrupt. That’s just what the Lions have needed in a big way.
Those facts could prove him a major steal in the end. Now, Okwara comes into the mix and can get things going in 2020.
READ NEXT: Lions Steal NFL MVP in League Re-Draft