The Lions have found their stand-up EDGE rusher of the present and long-term future.
Detroit general manager Bob Quinn waited until the third pick in the third round (No. 67 overall) to find his man in Notre Dame product Julian Okwara.
Okwara -- the younger brother of Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara -- started the first nine games of the 2019 campaign before suffering a season-ending, left fibula injury in Week 11 at Duke.
He ended his final season with the Irish with 18 tackles, six tackles for loss, four sacks, seven QB hurries, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
He comes into the NFL with more than competent pass-rushing skills, but still needs to refine his skill set as a run defender.
The Athletic's Dane Brugler shares the sentiment.
According to Brugler,
"Okwara screams off the edge with the speed that makes quarterbacks uncomfortable, using that same athleticism to drop and make plays away from the line of scrimmage. He often appears aimless in his rush plan with erratic hands and too many 'almost' plays on his tape. Overall, Okwara is an inconsistent run defender with strength and consistency questions, but he is an exceptional athlete with a projectable body, projecting as a high risk, high reward pass rusher.”
If healthy -- which Okwara has said is the case -- he can make an immediate impact on Detroit's pass rush.
Quinn, for one, believes the 22-year-old possesses "a tremendous skillset."
"(He's an) outside linebacker, pass rusher, highly athletic kid, long, violent (and) had an injury this year that he recovered from," Quinn said. "So, we feel great with that recovery, and really expect him to do great things with his brother."
He's got a great opportunity to play a lot of meaningful snaps from day one, and to top it off, he does have his brother to play alongside.
"It’s awesome. I’ve always dreamed about this, so it’s definitely a dream come true," Okwara said about being teammates with his brother. "I’m pretty much speechless."
If his ability as a pass rusher in college translates to the NFL, he will be a high value third-round selection for Quinn & Co.
Okwara has all the necessary intangibles to make it happen. And if he does, it will go a long way toward validating Quinn's 2020 draft haul as arguably his best since taking over as Lions general manager in 2016.