The Detroit Lions have been gearing up for the 2023 NFL draft, and their preparations have already led them to several places, most recently the Senior Bowl.
That game provided the team a good roadmap already in terms of the evaluation of several team fits, but with so many players on the field, the scope of such discussions can be wider. Bleacher Report and writer Alex Ballentine identified some of the standout players along with their team fits.
Enter Northwestern defensive tackle Adetomiwa Adebawore. The gritty defender was amongst the most impressive players on the field, and that was something Ballentine was aware of relative to what he was able to do on the field.
“At 6’1″, 284 pounds, he’s undersized at defensive tackle, but he has the length and explosion to work through those shortcomings and become a productive NFL player. His pass-rushing skills he showed at Mobile didn’t necessarily always show up on film,” Ballentine wrote in the piece.
Still, for what the Lions need, Adebawore could be an excellent fit, given his ability to defend the run up front.
“At this point, he’s a plus run defender with high upside as a pass-rusher. That’s a skill set that plenty of teams could use, but the three best fits here are all three teams that struggled to stop the run and need new blood on the inside,” he wrote.
Detroit could be seen as one of those teams given their struggles overall during the 2022 season. While working in Mobile, Adebawore managed to be very impressive on the field, and showed some impressive traits including a solid bull rush.
“Adetomiwa Adebawore drives back the OL. Damn he’s been impressive,” the account tweeted.
In addition to that, Ryan Roberts tweeted about how Adebawore was already looking like a potentially elite run defender.
“There is going to be an interesting conversation about ideal position on the next level but Northwestern DL Adetomiwa Adebawore is a ready made run defender. Just can’t dig him out,” Roberts tweeted.
With a team like Detroit, Adebawore could be an intriguing fit up front to help solve a major defensive need. Already, he looks like that kind of fit according to some.
Adebawore’s Career Stats & Highlights
Thus far in the pre-draft process, lots of the hype for the Lions has centered around the team’s need at defensive tackle. Early in the draft, the team could look to solve that need with a top-end player.
Adebawore, however, wouldn’t cost a first-round pick and could do just the same amount of damage in the trenches. The Northwestern product was sneaky productive in the Big Ten, posting 97 total tackles, 24.5 tackles for-loss, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception in a stout four-year career.
Adebawore would be a find a bit further down the board for the Lions, and a potential answer as it relates to who will clog the running lanes while offering some support as a pass rusher as the highlights show.
Defensive Line Trends as Major Lions’ Need
To hear Adebawore’s name mentioned in the same breath as a possible fit for Detroit is hardly a surprise at this point in time given the team’s expected need for defensive line help.
Detroit’s defense was ranked 32nd in the league last year, and while the team does have some solid young pieces up front in the form of Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill and Justin Houston, another big body with skills could help take the group over the top and make the team elite.
Last season, the Lions struggled with run defense. The team was 29th in the league, and allowed 146.5 yards per-game on the ground. The Lions also surrendered 2,491 yards and 22 touchdowns, which were pretty ugly totals.
A player like Adebawore could help the team get tougher in the middle of the line, which could improve the play of the whole defense. If he could do that while occasionally showing pass rush burst, it would be a benefit for the team.
Mock drafts figure the Lions will get their hands on another lineman early on. If they don’t, though, Adebawore could be an ideal solution just a bit later.