Breaking Down Julian Okwara's NFL Debut
In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions and general manager Bob Quinn nabbed EDGE rusher Julian Okwara in the early third round with the No. 67 overall pick.
With the Lions obviously needing pass rushers, the younger Okwara brother -- his brother Romeo also plays on the Lions -- was widely viewed as a steal where he was selected.
Due to a broken fibula his senior season at Notre Dame, he dropped a little further in the draft than most draft analysts assumed he would.
Despite having plenty of work to do playing against the run, Okwara flourishes in the pass-rush department.
Over his last two seasons in college, Okwara had the highest percent (19 percent) of quarterback pressures per pass-rush attempt, according to Pro Football Focus.
His overall length, strength and athleticism give him an amazing amount of potential.
However, his usage in Week 1 was marginal.
On defense, he only played a total of seven snaps for the Lions -- mostly coming in the fourth quarter on obvious passing downs.
Six of his seven plays were rushing the quarterback, and he actually lined up in multiple spots on the left side.
He stood up on the edge as a JACK backer, a few as more of a traditional defensive end and he even played a down in the 5-tech defensive tackle spot.
In terms of how he played, he was somewhat productive.
On the Lions' only sack, Okwara was on the field, and playing inside with his hand in the dirt.
On another play, he had a good shot at taking Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky down for a sack, but Trubisky avoided him and rolled out to complete a pass to Jimmy Graham down to the half-yard line.
According to PFF, Okwara was credited with a total of two pressures, and he had the highest pass-rush productivity metric for any rookie EDGE or defensive linemen in the NFL -- albeit a very small sample size.
That rating was also the highest on the Lions.
Now, the Lions need to be able to get to the opponent's signal-caller.
Hopefully, Okwara can provide that extra boost, and continue his pace pressuring the quarterback in an expanded role as the season progresses.
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