It’s not unrealistic to say that the Detroit Lions now have the best d-line in the NFC North, and it could get better with improvement from Romeo Okwara.
In order for the Detroit Lions to complete their quest back to playoff relevance, their defense needs to get back to the elite level it was at earlier this decade. When making the playoffs in 2011, 2014 and 2016, the Detroit defense was able to be fearsome all throughout the NFC North, specifically up front.
In past years, the success of the Lions’ defensive line has directly translated into team success and postseason appearances. From the fearsome defensive tackle duo of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley to defensive ends like Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Ezekiel Ansah using speed off the edge, former years have taught us that an elite defensive line in Detroit produces results.
Despite the lack of the big names listed above, it’s not crazy to expect the defensive line for Detroit to get back to that elite level this season, or at least the best defensive line in the NFC North.
With Damon Harrison playing his first full-year in Detroit, the addition of former Patriot Trey Flowers and former Alabama linemen A’Shawn Robinson and Da’Shawn Hand, the Lions are putting together a deep group of talented pass rushers.
But perhaps the one Detroit Lion pass rusher whose improvement can bring the Detroit Lions to an elite level is that of Romeo Okwara. After previously being waived by the New York Giants, Okwara became a rotation player with the Lions before starting the final 14 games for Detroit.
Okwara was a pleasant surprise when it comes to his production, leading the team with 7.5 sacks and earning a contract extension earlier this offseason. With him primarily rushing off the right side in head coach Matt Patricia’s defense, the Lions defense was able to steadily improve into a top-10 unit by the end of the year.
Okwara is trying to make himself a more versatile contributor in that defense this upcoming season, as Patricia continues to tweak his defensive scheme. When it comes to becoming more versatile, Okwara is all-in on changing for the betterment of the team. Here’s what he told DetroitLions.com about how his versatility helped him last season.
"“Any system, I try to be versatile – whatever position I’m put at on the field. Obviously, it worked out in my favor in this defense. I need to learn the position and expand the different techniques that Coach Patricia teaches. I picked it up pretty quickly. That’s why I was able to come in and learn. I’m still learning. Right now I’m honing those specific techniques and growing in the defense.”"
With the mindset towards to working hard and willingness to change, Detroit Lions’ fans should expect to see Romeo Okwara improve and potentially hit double-digit sacks this upcoming season in an ever-changing defense.