Surprising Defender Projected to Lead Lions in Sacks During 2022

Romeo Okwara

Getty Romeo Okwara dives for a sack of Kyler Murray in 2020.

The Detroit Lions are hoping they can get after the quarterback in much better fashion during the 2022 season, and invested significant money into making sure that is the case.

While it might take Aidan Hutchinson a little bit of time to learn the ropes and get his career going, already, the Lions could have a pair of veterans that are prepared to pick up the slack and do some damage for the team in the pocket.

Recently, ESPN along with the help of their analytics department and writer Seth Walder, took a look at projecting the top 50 expected pass rushers during the 2022 season. As expected, the Lions were not represented within the top 10, but they were decently represented overall.

Walder had a pair of the team’s veteran players in Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris poised to do damage this year. Okwara was picked to be the 13th best pass rusher in the league, while Charles Harris was pegged to be 47th.

Okwara has been projected to put up 7.8 sacks during the 2022 season. That might not be far off considering he has been a 10 sack player for the Lions before, having posted that mark during the 2020 season.

Harris, on the other hand, was picked to put up 5.5 sacks this year. That would represent a small downturn for him being he put up 7.5 during the 2021 season.

Obviously, the Lions would love if they could get this production from Okwara specifically. After an ACL injury, Detroit’s pass rush flatlined during 2021. That’s no disrespect to Harris, who had a career year on the field.

Regardless, the hope is there for Okwara to be a huge piece for the Lions this year. As of now, many see that primed to be the case from a statistical standpoint.

Okwara Needs to Get Healthy to Help Lions

Before any thoughts for Okwara can shift to what will happen this season, the pass rusher has to prove he is healthy first and foremost.

Entering camp this year, Okwara had to start the season on the PUP list. This was due to the fact that he is still recovering from the offseason ACL surgery which he sustained after getting hurt early in the 2021 season. For the Lions, it has to be mildly concerning that he was not ready to start camp.

If there’s been one pass rusher these past few seasons for the Lions that has stepped up as a whole, it’s Okwara, who came alive at the right time for Detroit in 2020. As a whole that season, Okwara managed to collect the most sacks of any Lions player with 10, and also collected the most tackles in one season of his career with 44.

Lions fans have to hope Okwara can have this result on the field this year, because it would make their entire defense that much more deadly.

Harris Primed for Another Major 2022 Season

Harris, on the other hand, would seem like a much more sure bet to put up numbers at this point for the Lions being he did so easily during the 2021 year.

Last season, Harris stepped up and was the leading pass rusher for Detroit while collecting 7.5 sacks. At times, he was the only player who was capable of getting to the quarterback consistently for the team. As a result, he was rewarded with a new offseason contract.

Getting ready for the year, it would seem Harris has a great chance to repeat as one of the leading sack collectors for the Lions. He should have the opportunity to make more plays if Hutchinson eats double teams and opens lanes up all over the field.

Add it up and the Lions could have a new dynamic duo in Okwara and Harris for this coming season.

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