The Lions'struggling rookie' has been identified as a breakout candidate for 2022.
The Detroit Lions have had a strong draft class since 2021, and most of their players have made an immediate impact, boosting the team's hopes for the future.
While everyone has contributed to the team's success, there is no doubt that some players have done more than a few others to help accelerate their development.
Defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike is one such player who may be lagging behind but is poised for a brighter future.
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Bleacher Report and writer Kristopher Knox recently looked at some struggling rookies who have the potential to break out in the 2022 season.
Onwuzurike made the list because of the potential he brings to a Detroit defense that has struggled mightily so far in 2021.
As Knox stated, the Lions defense is in desperate need of more talent, and as they do, Onwuzurike may be in a position to demonstrate more of his abilities to the team in order to assist the franchise.
Onwuzurike will be on the field more in 2022, according to Knox, and will be able to be a more disruptive force for the team.
Onwuzurike hasn't been bad; he just needs a little more time to develop after a slow start to training camp and the preseason due to injury concerns and getting back up to speed.
The Lions are already seeing signs that a turnaround is on the way late in 2021.
Though the defensive lineman has had a slow start to the season, there are signs he is improving as the season progresses. Since Week 11, Onwuzurike has piled up 9 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 pass defense.
His best recent play was a sack against Chicago on Thanksgiving Day.
The play occurred at a crucial point in the fourth quarter, when Detroit was attempting to halt Chicago's offensive momentum.
On second down, Onwuzurike broke through the line and caught Andy Dalton. Here's how it went down:
Despite the fact that the Lions did not win the game, Onwuzurike's sack was a major highlight of the day.
It's been an up and down season for the rookie, who has been sidelined for injury recovery since the start of training camp.
Seeing hard work pay off so late in the season is huge for the Lions and Onwuzurike's future, and it could boost his confidence significantly.
The Lions were in desperate need of trench help, and Onwurzurike could theoretically provide it now and in the future.
During his college career, he had 95 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and seven sacks.
Onwurzurike declined to play in the 2020 season, but he had a strong showing in 2019.
Teams scouting Onwuzurike were likely looking for a player who could be physical and tough in the trenches while also developing into a great middle linebacker.
Onwuzurike has started to show signs of coming into his own on the field in Detroit.
He has 9 total tackles so far this season and has shown some of the burst he had in college.
The Lions hope that Onwuzurike can continue to improve over time.
That's exactly what some, including those at Bleacher Report, are predicting for the future.