On Tuesday afternoon, the Detroit Lions signed center Ryan McCollum off of the Houston Texans practice squad, perhaps signaling standout center Frank Ragnow may miss extended time after suffering a turf toe in Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears.
This is after the Detroit Lions have already lost Jeff Okudah for the season, plus they are without their only proven and top pass-catcher, Tyrell Williams. He is currently on injured reserve with a concussion. Oh, and the Lions have been without starting left tackle Taylor Decker through the first four contests, and he’s expected to remain unavailable for the time being.
The Detroit Lions were also without their high-priced pass-rusher, Trey Flowers, Sunday in Chicago, who is dealing with a shoulder issue. After losing the elder Okwara for the remainder of the season, it leaves the already vulnerable Detroit defense in shambles.
According to ESPN, the Detroit Lions currently own the leagues’ worst pass-rush so far in 2021. Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn will have a tough time replacing Okwara’s team-leading ten sacks from a season ago.
The 26-year old Okwara totaled one sack and 16 total pressures this season and finished his injury-shortened season with a 74.1 overall grade courtesy of Pro Football Focus (PFF).
The Detroit Lions will look throughout their roster to fill the massive void left behind by Romeo Okwara.
First up, no other than Romeo’s brother, Julian Okwara.
The Detroit Lions used the 67th in the 2020 NFL Draft on Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara. Ready or not, the 23-year old will now be pressed into duty after seeing his brother fall to injury.
After struggling as a rookie, the younger Okwara has earned a stellar 89.5 overall grade from PFF, but that only includes 26 total defensive snaps spread out between three games. Julian Okwara did not play a down in Detroit’s Week One matchup with the San Francisco 49ers.
So far in Julian Okwara’s young career, his kryptonite has been defending the run. In just eight snaps, he’s earned a 75.7 grade defending the run, making two tackles and one assist but has also missed two tackles, which is becoming an issue. I mean, tackling while playing defense is somewhat of a necessity.
The Detroit Lions are also expected to lean on Austin Bryant to help fill Romeo’s void.
Austin Bryant has totaled 57 total defensive snaps thus far in 2021. Bryant also struggles in the tackling department having a 25% whiff rate missing tackles in a small sample size. Bryant has notched one sack and three pressures so far this season.
Charles Harris is the most likely candidate to be inserted into the Detorit Lions starting lineup moving forward. Harris has amassed three sacks and 11 pressures in 138 defensive snaps. The issue becomes if the Detroit Lions are forced to play without Romeo and Flowers.
The future is now; the three young edge rushers I just mentioned will have the opportunity to show this Lions coaching staff what they’ve got. No roster spot on a rebuilding team is a guarantee, but this trio has an opportunity to cement their fate during the remainder of the season.
Expect to see a revolving door at the position as Aaron Glenn rotates the teams’ edge rushers moving forward unless someone can seize the opportunity to be a three-down player.