Did the Detroit Lions get the building blocks they need?

Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Levi Onwuzurike, Washington (Photo by Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)
Levi Onwuzurike, Washington (Photo by Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports) /

The defense doesn’t rest

Day two of the draft and I’m feeling marginally better. Perhaps it was the selection of Penei Sewell that did it. My daughter comes down to check my temperature again and calls me a hermit and a castaway.

I tell her everything is fine, I’ll probably be good to go by the end of the draft. She gets a quirky smirk on her face and tosses me a Wilson volleyball with a bloody handprint on it.

What the heck? Has the apocalypse started during a draft weekend when I’m under the weather? I suppose if Mad Max and his boys come down to the mancave, I’ll deal with it. Until then it’s time for the second round.

It isn’t long before the Lions are on the clock and make their first selection of day two. Brad Holmes stays old school and continues to fortify their line. This time it’s on defense as defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike out of Washington is the choice.

Despite some who are whining about the need for weapons, there is no success in football, on offense or defense, without controlling the line of scrimmage. Even if the Lions added an all-world receiver or two, that means nothing if Jared Goff is on the turf before he can throw.

Lions fans should also be very aware of how poorly Matt Patricia’s don’t stop anyone at the line of scrimmage or pressure the quarterback defense worked. Adding players that can make a difference on the line of scrimmage matters.

In the case of Levi Onwuzurike, a disrupter is what Detroit got. Onwuzurike has an amazing first step. His combination of quickness and strength as well as heavy hands will give him the opportunity to live in the opponent’s backfield.

I wasn’t crazy about how Washington used Onwuzurike as a nose tackle putting him in a position to consistently face double-teams. Onwuzurike is better and will be more productive as a one-gap penetrator. My feeling is that with all of Dan Campbell’s talk about putting his players in a position to succeed, I believe the Lions will use Onwuzurike as the one gap penetrator he is.

After a little rest and a small snack, the Lions are back on the clock in the third round. What direction will Brad Holmes go now?

The pick is in and the Lions continue to work the trenches as they select North Carolina State nose tackle Alim McNeill. This should virtually confirm that Onwuzurike will be used as a penetrating 3-4 end or a pocket pushing tackle in a 4-3 front.

As for McNeill, this guy is an athlete. He was a 260-pound power-hitting outfielder in high school. He is now a 6 foot 1-inch 320-pound roadblock to opposing offenses.

McNeill is powerful and has the ability to re-set the line of scrimmage. He can push the pocket a little on passing downs, but his real value lies in his ability to move up and down the line of scrimmage causing pileups that leave opposing runners with no place to go.

Equally as important is that McNeill is almost never off his feet. offensive linemen around him may end up on the ground but McNeill simply doesn’t. He plays to the whistle with a high motor. This isn’t a flashy pick, but it would also seem to solidify the notion that defensive coordinator Aaron Glen will probably lean towards a 3-4 base defense.

At this point, I’m feeling pretty good about the draft so far and almost forget about the extra third-round pick the Lions received from the Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade.

Brad Holmes seems to understand the Lions’ weaknesses and certainly has to realize that he won’t be able to plug all the holes in one offseason. With the pick acquired from the Rams, the Lions select Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu.

Melifonwu is a big, physical cornerback who could even be moved over to safety. On surface value, I’ll go with the notion that Melifonwu will be cornerback depth.

Melifonwu’s long arms give him the opportunity to break up passes and he doesn’t hesitate to come up and support the run game. At Syracuse, he was more of a physical corner than a play-maker. Some think Melifonwu is underrated, but regardless he is a very solid pick with upside.

So far the 2021 draft has produced little I can complain about. With the blood-smirched volleyball staring at me I roll to get some rest and prepare for the final day of the draft.