Lions draft DT Levi Onwuzurike in second round

From what we know of Lions head coach Dan Campbell, it seems pretty obvious from a short Zoom conversation, that second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike is his kind of player.

If he hasn’t chewed on kneecaps, he may have come close.

The Lions selected Onwuzurike, a 6-3, 290-pound defensive tackle from Washington, with the 41st overall pick on Friday night.

Meet the Lions’ newest defensive tackle.

“I like f’ing people up. I like to get off the line and just put my helmet or my hands on an offensive lineman and f’ up an offensive scheme, pretty much. I like pushing ’em back 2, 3 yards and just making ’em feel like shit,’’ Onwuzurike said on a Zoom call describing his style of play. (Note, he did not say f’ing he used the full word and did not apologize.)

Got that?

He is ready to go with the Lions. “I’ll hop on the field right now if I have to,’’ Onwuzurike said.

The defensive tackle said he and Campbell talked a lot during the pre-draft process including at the Senior Bowl.

Because he played in the Pac-12, he has played against right tackle Penei Sewell from Oregon, the Lions first-round draft pick.

“He’s an elite player, he’s a dog for sure. He was the first tackle out, first O-lineman out. He deserves all that — one of the quickest players I’ve ever played against, very balanced, very big, but he also has an athletic build, he’s almost like a tight end at the tackle position. He’s elite, we’re going to make shit happen up in Detroit,’’ Onwuzurike said of Sewell.

Onwuzurike only had 7 career sacks in college so he’s been working on his pass-rush skills.

“Everything I practiced on in the offseason from bend to pad level to everything. At the end of the day it’s about production, it’s about putting pressure on that quarterback and making that happen so your other players can succeed as well,’’ Onwuzurike said. “I’ll work to take that next step.”

The scouting report on Onwuzurike from Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline said: “Onwuzurike showed the ability to be a game changer at Washington, occupying blocks, penetrating the line of scrimmage, and even getting out in space to make plays. He comes with a large upside, but must finish his game to grab hold of the starting job in the NFL.”

The Lions remaining draft picks:

Round 3: No. 72

Round 3: No. 101 (from Rams)

Round 4: No. 112

Round 5: No. 153

Lions draft OL Penei Sewell with 7th-overall pick

Prior to the NFL draft, new Lions GM Brad Holmes said he wanted players who loved the game of football.

Well he’s one-of-one so far after drafting offensive lineman Penei Sewell (Oregon) with the seventh overall pick on Thursday night.

“It’s a way of life for me, not  just a game,’’ Sewell said on a Zoom call shortly after his name was called.

The 20-year-old said the Lions didn’t show too much interest in him until later in the process and then they wanted to get to know him as a person.

He was visibly excited and ready to get to work.

“The fit is awesome, the way coach (Dan) Campbell  kind of approaches the game is the way I like to come – real physical each and every day, get better that way,’’ said Sewell who started 20 of the 21 games he played for the Ducks. He opted out of the 2020 season.

He’s familiar with some of the offensive lineme including Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow and Tyrell Crosby who was at Oregon during his time there.

“To be a part of that room and to be able to join them is a blessing,’’ Sewell said. That’s a lot of knowledge and a lot of years in that room, coming in I’m going to soak it all up and be a sponge.’’

When the Lions made the pick, a TV camera picked up the celebration in the Lions war room at Allen Park. You saw plenty of hugging and jumping around in the Lions war room with Holmes, Campbell, owner Sheila Ford Hamp and others.

Sewell, who grew up in American Samoa, started his first game at Oregon when he was just 17 years old. His young age could be a factor moving forward when he’ll be negotiating his second contract when he’s just 23.

“To be honest I haven’t even started yet, that’s how I feel there’s a lot to  do, there’s a lot to be done and the sky’s the limit,’’ Sewell said. “I’m ready to tap into the potential and ready to go to work to fulfill the dream.’’

At 6-foot-5 and 331 pounds, he also made a little history. According to this NFL draft profile, the last time a 20-year old offensive lineman was drafted in the top 10 was Tyron Smith in 2011. Needless to say, that worked out for the Dallas Cowboys. Sewell is not Smith. He’s much thicker, yet somehow is able to move just as quickly.

Plenty of speculation had him going to Cincinnati with the fifth overall pick, but the Bengals chose WR Ja’Marr Chase.

The Lions have five more picks in the next two days, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Round 2: No. 41

Round 3: No. 72

Round 3: No. 101 (from Rams)

Round 4: No. 112

Round 5: No. 153

Lions brass excited about the hiring of GM Brad Holmes

Owner Sheila Ford Hamp couldn’t hide her excitement about new Lions general manager Brad Holmes as she was introducing him on Tuesday during a virtual press conference.

“Just wait, you’ll see,’’ Hamp said repeatedly.

Team president Rod Wood explained how he trusts his first impressions. Within two or three minutes of the first interview with Holmes (which was virtual), Wood wrote a note to himself, “This is the guy.”

Holmes, 41, has worked his way up in the NFL.

In fact, he noted the last time he was at the Lions practice facility was when he was interviewing for a PR intern position. That was around 2003.

Instead he took the same job with the St. Louis Rams and worked his way up through the scouting ranks. He spent 18 seasons with the Rams, most recently as director of college scouting. He brings his knowledge of the 2021 draft class to Detroit.

Hamp was right, Holmes seems to have the right attitude to get the Lions back to the playoffs and not just get there, but also win. 

“Everything is about the team, bottom line,’’ he said. His delivery guaranteed those are not empty words. 

He was quite clear about the intangible he wants to see in every player. That would be passion. Holmes said there is no margin for error. Passion is of utmost importance when it comes to intangibles.

“We will build a winning and inspired culture… There will be no ego in this process,’’ Holmes said.

He’s not looking at a five-year plan. He’s looking to put a winning team on the field in the fall.

It’s hard not to like this guy just from watching this one virtual press conference.

Now he has to put some muscle behind his words and make the best decisions. He will be involved in the next big hire – the head coach.

Hamp, Wood, Chris Spielman (special assistant to Hamp) and Mike Disner (vice president of football operations) were in on all of the interviews. They talked to a dozen GM candidates.

When they debriefed after the initial Holmes interview, it wasn’t just Rod Wood who knew he was The Guy. It was unanimous.

It could be the dawn of a new era for the Lions franchise which hasn’t won a playoff game since Jan. 5, 1992.

Or it could be just another Lions’ GM hire.

I’d bet on the former. 

Just a gut feeling.