Detroit Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara is a classic example of a player who puts out a great highlight film, but is less impressive when you look at his “full body of work.”
If you turn on his highlights, you and probably some other team in the NFL will fall in love with his speed, power and arsenal of pass-rush moves off the edge.
I conjecture that at his age and with his sack total, some team -- possibly the Giants (which ironically is where his career started) -- will break the bank for him in free agency.
If he returns to the Lions at a fair price, great. But, I would not count on it.
He is showing what he needs to show to get grossly overpaid in a contract year.
At 25 years old, he is as good as gone.
Next to touchdowns, sacks are the most glamorous thing in the NFL.
Somebody is going to make him one of the highest -- if not the highest -- paid defensive ends in the game, for a player, who in reality, is a situational and rotational pass-rusher and is not an every-down defensive end due to his size and leaner-looking frame.
My biggest concern is his rollercoaster sack totals the past three seasons:
2020: Nine games played, seven sacks
2019: 14 GP, 1.5 sacks
2018: 15 GP, 7.5 sacks
My second biggest concern is the inconsistency I've seen on his game film, in regard to his overall play this season and last.
At the end of the Washington game last week, Okwara looked like he was possessed, coming off the edge.
Against Green Bay in Week 2, however, he all but disappeared.
In the beginning of the Jacksonville game in Week 6, he looked like he was shot out of a cannon.
However, against Minnesota a couple weeks ago, outside of that blocked punt, once again, he was pretty much nowhere to be found. That is who he is: an inconsistent player.
At times, he looks phenomenal, and at other times, he is not a factor.
He clearly has the ability, but his motor sputters too much for my taste.
(2019 game film evaluated): 9/8 vs. AZ, 9/15 LAC, 9/22 vs. PHI, 10/14 vs. GB, 10/27 vs. NYG, 11/3 vs. OAK, 11/10 vs. CHI and 11/17 vs. DAL.
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#95 Romeo Okwara - 6-foot-4, 263 pounds (backup)
2019 Grade: B (Good player, but not elite; he's good enough to win with, however)
A super active pass-rusher, with long arms, who looks the part. But, was very inconsistent in all areas. Battles at the point. Can lock out, and extend to create separation. Showed he has the pure and raw power to bull the left tackle, right back into the quarterback. Has that in him. Can bend the edge. Inconsistent in showing that power. Got held up on the edge countless times. Can spin back, has a head-fake move and has good enough speed and hand usage to win at the backdoor. Sometimes, lines up inside. Looks to work and slip into a gap and create pressure. Has some wow moments, and then, disappears.
Against the run, he occasionally fights to come off blocks and move laterally down the line to get in position. Locked up, and held up on the edge too often. Reached in, and caused a fumble. Can chase down in space. Showed he has it in him and that he has some dynamic play-making ability. It just didn’t come out often enough. Can make some noise off the edge as a pass-rusher. Needs to be taken seriously.
(2020 game film evaluated): 9/13 vs. CHI, 9/20 vs. GB, 10/18 vs. JAX, 11/8 vs. MIN and 11/15 vs. WSH.
Grade: B- (Good player, but not elite; he's good enough to win with, however)
Situational pass-rush specialist, with lean frame, speed, power, moves and good technique, but tightness in his hips and an inconsistent motor. Flashes greatness, but then, disappears at times. Plays with his hand in the dirt most of the time, but at times, the Lions will line him up standing up, where he is not nearly as effective. Best when lined up wide. He can pack a punch at the point of attack for his weight, and he's very good at using his hands to create separation against tackles when he is “on.” Good extension. Absolutely has the necessary speed and burst to bend the edge and to win through the backdoor, which is his pass-rush of choice. Does have capability of stunting inside to shoot through gaps to explode up into the pocket. Brings flexibility by lining up outside at both left defensive end and right DE and occasionally inside at defensive tackle in obvious passing situations. Does show trouble trying to adjust quickly in space or in the pocket. Active, but once he is tied up, tends to stay tied up if he cannot win right away. Does not play with the same speed or power every play.
Against the run, he does show the ability to fight laterally and somewhat productively. Willing to run and chase, if necessary. Good tackler. Despite the increase in sack numbers this year, I do not feel as impressed with him as I was last year. I believe while his sack numbers are up, his overall level of play and intensity have decreased this season.
Unless the price is really right (which it will not be), it is time to move on and to look to Vikings free-agent DE Ifeadi Odenigbo to replace Okwara.
The reason the Lions are 4-5 to begin with is because they have one too many guys that give a 4-5 effort on the field, with Okwara being one of them.
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