The Detroit Lions picked up Romeo Okwara in the 2020 NFL Draft, and at the time, a common joke was that given his brother Julian Okwara played with the team, the duo would be shacking up together.
So, now that the younger Okwara has settled in, has he officially claimed residence on his older brother’s couch? That’s not exactly the case, even as the duo has remained close. As Okwara told the media, he bought a house right next door to where his brother lives and they’ve remained close in the physical sense, but also plenty of others.
Julian Okwara said he is not living with his brother Romeo — he joked about it after being drafted — but that they do live next door to one another so he's been able to bounce ideas off of him.
Said it's the most time they've spent together in a while
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) August 20, 2020
“This is probably the most time we’ve spent together since high school or whenever he was back home. It was just nice to be back with him and net door really. Having him as a resource on the same football team, doing things together, spending time together.”
Okwara said his brother’s presence has helped him adjust to the NFL, and he’s been one of the veteran players he has relied on most for that transition. It’s special to see the bond the pair has playing out and will be interesting to see how it helps the Lions on the field this year.
Why Julian Okwara Could Become NFL Star
According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Okwara had some questions coming into the draft, but the Lions could offer perhaps the best answer for him becoming one of the truthfully elite players in the league on defense. The reason has everything to do with his brother Romeo Okwara, who is already on the roster in Detroit.
While attention focused elsewhere in the NFC North, the #Lions quietly addressed some key needs in the draft: offensive playmakers, big men and a talented pass rusher with a chance to blossom alongside his brother. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/IRfOALt4O0
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 7, 2020
“Okwara is a guy who when I talked to scouts coming into the draft, some thought would actually go in the first round. He can really bend off the edge, a very talented rush threat,” he said. “There were a lot of questions for him in terms of how much does he love the game, the commitment. He had a ton of interviews, Teams dug into him.”
As it relates to that, the Lions might have the right code as it relates to cracking Okwara, and it’s in the form of his brother.
“Those two are really really close. Romeo is sort of Julian’s mentor. The fact that he will be back with his brother here could help Julian break out in 2020,” Pelissero admitted.
This could mean the perfect situation exists for Okwara to break out in Detroit. That’s just what the Lions could use given their need for pass rush depth up front and a new star on the roster at the position.
Julian Okwara Called Major 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 Julian 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.”
Obviously, the Lions hope that Okwara can infuse some much needed pass rush talent on their team. If they end up getting better in the years ahead as a result of Okwara, it will only merely prove having his brother on the roster was a true plus.
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.
The fact that Okwara is comfortable could only prove to make him a bigger success in Detroit when all is said and done.