All the negatives about the Detroit Lions' pass rush so far this season are out there, and pretty well-worn by now. 18 of their 23 sacks have come in three games, and other than Aidan Hutchinson (5.5 sacks) and Alim McNeill (five sacks) the rush from the front line has been basically non-existent.
Turns out relying to any extent on anything from Charles Harris and Romeo Okwara was a bad idea. Second-year man Josh Paschal has an excuse, as this Sunday will be just his 17th NFL game, and there's a chance he's ready to emerge. Julian Okwara, despite having two sacks in six games to outdo Harris and his older brother, can't seem to get more chances.
So it's fair to assume edge rusher will be a position of some need for the Lions heading into the 2024 NFL Draft. Even if Paschal does turn a corner down the stretch this season and James Houston plays again this season, adding a pass rusher with an early pick stands to be on the radar.
Detroit Lions add Big Ten edge rusher in new 2024 mock draft
In his latest 2024 mock draft, Dane Brugler of The Athletic (subscription required) has the Lions taking Ohio State edge rusher JT Tuimoloau at No. 27 overall.
"The Lions rank near the bottom of the NFL in pressure rate and sacks, and they must continue to build on the defensive line," Tuimoloau isn’t going to win the corner with pure speed, but he has heavy hands and diversifies his attack with leverage and timing to affect the backfield."
The Lions, according to Pro Football Reference anyway, are actually sixth in pressure rate this season (24.8 percent). But Brugler's point about needing to keep building on the defensive line stands.
Tuimoloau was named a All-Big Ten First Team selection this year by coaches and media. He has 34 total tackles and six tackles for loss this season heading into the postseason, with four sacks, five quarterback hits, a forced fumble and two pass breakups.
Tuimoloau has 11 sacks and 21 tackles for loss in three seasons as a Buckeye. At 6-foot-4 and 277 pounds, he has long arms and athleticism (two interceptions in 2022) to win 1-on-1 matchups.
Tuimoloau's sack numbers in college don't leap off the page, but he has been a disruptive all-around force and appears to have some polish as a pass rusher. It's easy to think the Lions have some interest in him, and for whatever it's worth general manager Brad Holmes was on-site for the Ohio State-Michigan game last weekend.