Lions' Giovanni Manu Refuses 'To Get Outworked'

Lions rookie Giovanni Manu is out to prove that he belongs in the NFL.
Giovanni Manu
Giovanni Manu / Junfu Han, USA TODAY NETWORK
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The Detroit Lions surprised many fans and pundits alike when they traded up to draft University of British Columbia product Giovanni Manu in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft (No. 126 overall). 

Manu, an extremely raw prospect who has never played a down of football in the United States, was the first International Player Pathway program participant selected in this past April’s draft. 

Manu was born and raised on the South Pacific island of Tonga, which is a short plane ride away from Samoa, the hometown of fellow Lions offensive lineman Penei Sewell. At 11 years old, Manu and his two siblings, along with their mother, moved to the Vancouver, Canada, area.  

Manu – a rugby player in Tonga – suited up for five seasons at the University of British Columbia. The 6-foot-7, 352-pounder was a relative unknown before impressing the masses at his pro day, during which he ran a 4.96 40-yard dash and posted a 33.5-inch vertical.

The Lions, believing the immense-sized lineman is loaded with untapped potential, proceeded to trade a third-rounder in next year’s draft to acquire the proud Polynesian. 

Manu – whose family and humble beginnings in Tonga serve as his motivation as a football player – is committed to making sure that Detroit gets a good return on its investment in him. 

“One thing about me is I refuse to get outworked by my peers and my opponents,” Manu told reporters Friday at Lions rookie minicamp. “That’s one thing I carry myself, because the way I look at it is, if someone outworks me, it stops me from feeding my family and my family means everything to me. So, if you’re stopping me from feeding my family, that’s just going to add more fuel to my fire. So, that’s just the way I approach this.” 

Manu, who is expected to be cross-trained to play both guard and offensive tackle, joins a talented Lions offensive line that includes Sewell, an All-Pro tackle, and a pair of Pro Bowlers in center Frank Ragnow and guard Kevin Zeitler. Detroit assistant general manager Ray Agnew believes that learning from the likes of those proven offensive linemen, including veteran left tackle Taylor Decker, will only make Manu better in the long haul.   

“What a talented young man,” Agnew said Friday about Manu. “Here’s a guy that, he’s got a ways to go as a football player but what better place to come in and learn how to be an offensive tackle in the National Football League than playing behind Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker. I mean, he's got time to learn — being coached by Hank Fraley. So, excited about this young man, and it’s more than just his athletic ability. If you meet this young man, he is an outstanding human being first of all. He’s not entitled. He’s appreciative of everything.” 

Agnew is among the many in the Lions organization that believe Manu has the ability to turn into a solid pro. 

“He’s a Lion. He’s a Lions football player,” Agnew said. “He’s built the way we want. He’s the type of player, he’s wired right. I mean, this kid is going to work his butt off.

“Very excited about that young man. Can’t wait to see where he’s going to go in his career. He’s got some development to do, but he’s got a chance to be a really good player in the National Football League.”

Vito Chirco


Vito has covered the NFL and the Detroit Lions for the past five years.  Has extensive reporting history of college athletics, the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Mercy Athletics.  Chirco's work include NFL columns, analyzing potential Detroit Lions prospects coming out of college, NFL draft coverage and analysis of events occurring in the NFL.  Extensive broadcasting experience including hosting a Detroit Tigers podcast and co-hosting a Detroit Lions NFL podcast since 2019.