Detroit Lions: Romeo Okwara to be used various ways in 2021


The Detroit Lions are expected to use newly signed defensive end/edge rusher Romeo Okwara in various ways within DC Aaron Glenn’s defensive scheme.

I’m beyond thrilled that the Detroit Lions chose to retain their top pass-rusher from a year ago.  Romeo Okwara recently signed a three-year deal worth $39-million to remain with the Lions.

Certainly, rejoining the organization that provided a player with their first real opportunity at the professional level creates some appeal when deciding whether to stay or go in free agency, but when said franchise is just a year removed from also drafting their younger brother helps make a players’ decision a bit easier.

This is exactly why I became somewhat shocked star defensive end J.J. Watt decided to sign in Arizona rather than Pittsburgh, where he’d be able to play with both of his brothers Derek and T.J.

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We’re just a year removed from the Detroit Lions, spending a third-round (67th overall) on edge rusher Julian Okwara, and now the organization has locked up Romeo for three more years without breaking the bank.

The franchise tag for a defensive end had been set at $16-million per Over The Cap, and that’s far too rich for a player like Okwara after providing the organization with mixed results over the past three seasons.

In 2018, Okwara broke out with 7.5 sacks but took a giant step back in 2019, only producing 1.5 sacks in 14 games.  The 25-year old re-emerged with a tremendous 2020 season leading the team with ten sacks while producing a top-five pressure rate among all edge-rushers, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).

Okwara enjoyed a plethora of success last season in Matt Patricia’s helpless scheme nearly on his own.  Okwara had been forced to fight through double-teams after Trey Flowers was shut down due to injury, and the reluctant-to-blitz Patricia didn’t precisely help Okwara by sending extra bodies to generate pressure.

How will the Detroit Lions use Romeo Okwara in 2021?

The Detroit Lions are expected to line Okwara up in numerous positions during the 2021 season under newly appointed defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn.

Glenn will enjoy moving both of the Okwara brothers and Flowers around, trying to confuse opposing offenses.  Unlike Matt Patricia’s scheme that saw Flowers planted in a 9 or 5-technique depending on the defensive front over the left tackle and Okwara primarily mirroring that over the right tackle, expect Glenn to move both players around.

I expect Flowers and Okwara to line up in that Patricia-like form in sub-packages on third-and-long to go, but expect to see both players without their hand in the dirt far more often in ’21 than we’ve seen in the past.

Flowers will primarily be found in a 5-technique, but I do expect to see him utilized in multiple ways.

Hopefully, Da’Shawn Hand remains healthy and effective to anchor the 5-technique opposite Flowers, allowing the Lions to load up Romeo in a wide 9-technique proving the rush on the same side Flowers is lined up.

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The Lions will be wise to mix things up far more than they have in the past, and I’m excited to see the different looks they throw out there in 2021.