Detroit Lions Offseason Hype Overrated? Levi Onwuzurike, Julian Okwara, & Ifeatu Melifonwu Cut?

Lions Nation Unite
Over the past few years, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes has significantly improved Detroit’s roster by adding new talent, mainly through the draft. This offseason, Holmes brought in experienced players to strengthen the secondary. With the additions and emerging talent on defense, some veterans may not make the team’s final roster.

Here are three players whose jobs are in jeopardy.

Safety Ifeatu Melifonwu
Melifonwu’s pro career has been derailed by injuries. In his first two seasons, he has only participated in 50% (17 out of 34) of the games, with five starts.

Tracy Walker III, who missed most of last season with an Achilles’ injury, will be back and is expected to start at safety alongside Kerby Joseph, who had four interceptions and was a standout in his rookie year. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who played safety for NFC champion Philadelphia in 2022, will also get significant playing time.

Additionally, Brian Branch, considered one of the best college safeties in 2023, was selected in the second round by Detroit.

OLB Julian Okwara
The younger Okwara brother has missed significant playing time in Detroit because of injuries. He has played almost 60% of games during his three-year tenure in the Motor City, but his stats aren’t impressive (47 tackles, seven sacks, 10 tackles for loss in 29 games).

By contrast, in just seven games in 2022, outside linebacker James Houston, a breakout star, had eight sacks and seven tackles for a loss. As a result, Houston is likely to move ahead of the former Norte Dame star on the depth chart.

Additionally, the return of outside linebacker Charles Harris from a knee injury may further decrease Okwara’s chances of making the roster. Harris proved to be a strong player for the Lions in 2021, with 7.5 sacks in his first season in Detroit.

Romeo Okwara, the older of the Okwara brothers, has recovered from his Achilles injury and is expected to play a crucial role in the pass rush. Romeo could be one of the reasons why his younger brother is not with the team in 2023.

Defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike
The defensive lineman selected in the second round of the 2021 draft did not play in 2022 due to a back injury. Onwuzurike started the season on injured reserve and underwent a back procedure toward the end of the season, ending his season.

Although he has been permitted to start running again, he needs clearance to resume football-related activities. Onwuzurike will face stiff competition in camp from Josh Paschal and Brodric Martin, among others.

On Thursday, Lions head coach Dan Campbell said he is hopeful Onwuzurike will be available for training camp, but it will be a challenge for the third-year pro to secure a roster spot.
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