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Lions land pass-rush help, draft 'dominant' disruptor Julian Okwara

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions finally found some pass-rush help in the third round of the NFL Draft, selecting Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara with the 67th pick on Friday. 

Julian is brother of current Lions defender Romeo Okwara.

"It’s awesome," Julian said about the opportunity to play with his brother. "I’ve always dreamed about this, so it’s definitely a dream come true. I’m pretty much speechless. I’m still kind of letting it marinate, think about it tonight and probably will wake up tomorrow and really let it set in."

Notre Dame defensive lineman Julian Okwara (42) will be joining his brother Romeo on the Lions.

Okwara had been trending toward being a top-50 selection prior to breaking his leg in the middle of last season. Recovering from that injury prevented him from fully participating at the scouting combine in February, but he still did the bench press, where he impressively put the bar up 27 times, despite having longer than average arms.

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Before the injury, the 6-foot-4, 252-pound Okwara had five sacks in nine games. More importantly, he generated pressure on the quarterback 32 times on 202 pass-rushing snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. 

"I’m good to go," Okwara said when asked about his leg. "I’m ready for the season, ready to get things going and ready to get to work, really.”

The Lions have badly struggled to pressure the passer the past two seasons, ranking near the bottom of the league in pressure rate. Free-agent addition Trey Flowers led the team with seven sacks in 2019, tied with linebacker Devon Kennard, who was released earlier this offseason. No other Lions player had more than two. 

Okwara is ready to help flip that script.

"They’re getting a pass rusher, great defensive end, someone who wreaks havoc in the backfield," he said. "I’m a dominant player. I love to win games. I’m looking forward to bringing a championship to Detroit.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers