Rising Defender Selected to Become Lions’ 2022 ‘Breakout Star’

Levi Onwuzurike

Getty Levi Onwuzurike during the Lions game against the Steelers.

The Detroit Lions have lots of players they hope can take the next step for them in the 2022 season, and the best ones seem to be on the defensive side of the ball.

With plenty of youth, there are no shortage of players that the Lions hope will turn over a new leaf and get things going, and one of the best answers as it relates to a youngster primed for a big year is defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike.

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It sounds as if Onwuzurike is ready to turn over a new leaf, and the Lions are ready to help him do it. Those facts are getting the player on the radar of some this offseason in terms of someone who will be a major breakout star in 2022.

Such was the case for NFL.com and writer Adam Rank. Recently, Rank took a look at the state of the franchise for the Lions within a new piece, and had Onwuzurike making some major strides.

“The second-year pro showed some flashes as a rookie, but was not healthy for much of the year. Fortunately, it sounds like he’s putting those issues behind him…. Anyhow, I predict there will be a point this season when Onwuzurike ends up being the dude at defensive tackle,” Rank wrote in the piece.

A former second-round pick in 2021, Onwuzurike made only a modest showing on the field last season, but all of that could be set to change this coming year according to Rank.

Onwuzurike Excited to Fit Within New Defense

Meeting with the media on Wednesday, May 11, Onwuzurike discussed some of his preparations for a new season, his second year in the league. A big focus he revealed was adding some muscle, and that move could help him in preparation for Detroit’s new defense, which could be more tailored to his attacking ways within the trenches.

“Levi Onwuzurike said he increased his muscle mass this offseason and is really looking forward to Detroit’s new attacking scheme upfront on defense,” Twentyman tweeted.

Onwuzurike’s excitement about such a move for the defense is telling, and could be very exciting for the Lions themselves. His ability to pressure the pocket and get after it could prove vital for the Lions, and his grit could be welcome for that group. Onwuzurike feels like the perfect fit to get up field and make some plays, and if he is stronger, that could aid him well in his pursuit.

As offseason health projects go, this could be a big one to remember for Detroit. It sounds as if Onwuzurike feels comfortable and ready for 2022, and that’s great news for a Lions’ defensive line the team hopes can be resurgent.

Onwuzurike Stats & Highlights

The Lions needed some major help in the trenches and Onwurzurike can theoretically provide it for now and in the future as well. He collected 95 tackles in his time in college to go with 16 tackles for-loss and 7 sacks. Onwurzurike opted out of the 2020 season, but he showed well in 2019 when he last played. Teams looking to draft Onwuzurike were likely looking at his ability to be physical and tough in the trenches and develop into a great player in the middle.

In Detroit, Onwuzurike has started to show some signs of coming into his own on the field. Thus far this season, he has collected 9 total tackles and showed some of the burst he did in college when he secured his first sack on Thanksgiving Day:

In time, the Lions hope that Onwuzurike develops into a force. That could play out as early as 2022 with some of the changes both for the player and the defense he figures to be starring in. Some even see the next step being taken this coming season.

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