Notre Dame football: Detroit Lions draft Julian Okwara

Julian Okwara (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Julian Okwara (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Former Notre Dame edge rusher Julian Okwara was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft with the 67th overall pick.

Julian Okwara was the first former Notre Dame defensive player to hear his name called in the 2020 NFL Draft when the Detroit Lions selected him in the third round of the draft with the 67th overall selection.

While Okwara was not selected as high as his late first round, early second-round projection that most draft analysts had for him, he did end up going to a Detroit Lions team where some had predicted he would go prior to the draft.

This was a feel-good pick by the Detroit Lions as it will unite Julian Okwara with his older brother and fellow former Notre Dame alumni, Romeo Okwara. Watching Okwara and his family react to the news that he would be playing on the same defensive line as his older brother was a truly magical moment.

After suffering a leg injury in the November 10th game against Duke last year, Okwara was unable to participate in many of the NFL Combine events. He impressed NFL scouts with his interviews as well as his impressive showing in the bench press event, where he put up 27 repetitions of 225-pounds, exhibiting excellent strength, something some scouts had questioned ahead of the NFL Combine.

Okwara, a pure speed rusher, had hoped to put his elite speed as an edge rusher on full display during Notre Dame’s Pro Day in March, However, that event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That may have been a leading factor for Okwara’s slip in the draft.

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With a strong skill set and incredible athleticism, Okwara is likely to push to become a starter along the Detroit defensive line from day one. Given what he showed during his time with the Irish, it is likely the Lions landed a steal in Okwara that should pay dividends for years to come.