7 Senior Bowl prospects the Lions should watch on defense

Marvin Wilson, Florida State Seminoles (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Marvin Wilson, Florida State Seminoles (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Levi Onwuzurike, Washington Huskies
Levi Onwuzurike, Washington Huskies  (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

Levi Onwuzurike, DT – Washington

The pandemic has thrown a lot of curveballs into the 2021 draft process. Not least the fact many players haven’t even strapped on the pads on gameday since the 2019 season. Levi Onwuzurike, the defensive tackle from Washington, was a 2020 opt-out but he could make himself a lot of money in Mobile this week.

Onwuzurike might be the player I’m most excited to watch this week. In fact, both he and the next defensive tackle listed are going to be high on my watch list, especially given the need for the Lions and the limited depth of the draft class at interior defensive line.

You could argue he has spent longer than any previous prospect preparing for draft season, so it will be interesting to see how he looks versus players who have played a full (or part) season. Will there be elements of rust? Will his body be fresher? How much one-on-one work will he have done? Lots of questions …

In terms of body composition and measurements, Onwuzurike is a leaner defensive tackle. He isn’t quite Aaron Donald, but he definitely is closer to a “body beautiful” specimen compared to most interior defensive linemen.

At 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, he is definitely built for an aggressive one-gap scheme and might struggle outside of three-technique (3T) at the NFL level.

Other than maybe Christian Barmore from Alabama, Onwuzurike is probably the best interior penetrator in the class. He has a super explosive first step, and you often see him jolt IOL back with his punch off the line especially when heads up versus a guard or center that makes him effective versus the run where he can stack and shed as needed.

Whilst the tools are there, he never quite put it together at Washington. And for a man with his explosiveness and hand power, I’d like to see some finesse in his pash rush toolkit. I’m hopeful that’s been a technique focus during his time away from the game and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a more advanced hand fighting skillset this week.

Personally, I think he could be a perfect fit for the Lions early on day two. With Da’Shawn Hand unable to stay on the field, or flash the potential he showed as a rookie, the Lions don’t really have anyone they can trust to disrupt from the inside. Onwuzurike can potentially be that guy and with a good defensive line coach he could end up being a steal.