Notre Dame Football: How does Julian Okwara fit with the Lions?

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

Notre Dame football’s Julian Okwara was selected by the Detroit Lions in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft. Here’s how he fits their team:

Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara will be making the quick drive from South Bend to Detroit to start his professional career with the Lions.

There he will have the chance to learn under one of the best defensive minds in the NFL in head coach Matt Patricia. That should certainly help Okwara’s early development and hopefully set him up for a long career.

He will also be playing alongside a (very) familiar face in his older brother and former Notre Dame football player Romeo Okwara. Having his brother there with him should ease the transition for Julian. It could also raise the level of competition in the defensive line group because few things compare to a sibling rivalry.

Given the nature of his position, with frequent player rotations, Julian Okwara should have an opportunity to contribute right away. The Lion’s projected depth chart on ESPN has Julian as second-string behind his older brother – meaning he would see a significant number of snaps.

Detroit selected another defensive end, Jashon Cornell, from Ohio State, in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. Cornell is a bigger-bodied defensive lineman who occasionally lined up at defensive tackle for the Buckeyes. So he probably won’t be competing with Okwara for playing time.

The Lions defense only tallied 28 sacks during the 2019 regular season. That was tied for the second-lowest sack total in the NFL. Detroit also allowed their opponents to convert on 43.9 percent of third downs. That was the fifth-worst mark in the league.

The Lion’s could definitely use Okwara’s help improving in both of those areas. I think over the next couple of seasons he can make some impact plays and help Detroit’s defense move closer towards the middle of the pack in the NFL.

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Some Irish fans were a bit disappointed with Okwara’s production in 2019, but he has proved during his time at Notre Dame that he can be an impact player for a defense.