2nd Round: Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington
In the second round, the Detroit Lions grabbed another Pac-12 product in defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike. Onwuzurike was a disruptive force at nose tackle for the Huskies. He is violent at the point of attack with an incredible get off the line. He didn’t have great production at Washington due to a combination of scheme and some raw technique. Once he gets his hand usage and leverage improved, he can become a disruptive one-gap defensive tackle.
Onwuzurike probably won’t start to kick off the season, but he should be expected to get plenty of playing time. Expect Onwuzurike to rotate in as a 3 technique defensive tackle behind Michael Brockers and Trey Flowers.
Expect Onwuzurike to play a lot, especially on passing downs, as he is the best pass rusher of any defensive tackle on the roster. On those passing downs, he could even line up at the nose to allow for more pass rushers on the field. Onwuzurike will be a great rotation piece this year with the potential to become a disruptive force in the middle of the defense.
3rd Round: Alim McNeill, DT, NC State
The Lions doubled down on the defensive line in the 3rd round with Alim McNeill out of NC State. Despite technically playing the same position, both players will have different roles. McNeill is a mountain of a man at 317 lbs who will lineup at nose tackle.
He is speedy for a man his size with incredible strength (he squats 640 lbs and benches 445). He still needs to work on shedding blocks and having secondary moves. In college, he was able to get by just using his quickness and punch, but in the NFL, he will need a wide variety of moves to be successful.
Despite being taken later than Onwuzurike, expect McNeil to start at nose tackle in between Flowers and Brockers. He should start over John Penisini as he is a much better fit for the new one-gap scheme. Penisni will still play but expect him more of a situational run stuffer. McNeill should be a solid starter from day 1 who can grow into so much more.