Jarran Reed is gone. Poona Ford is good and going to be with the Seahawks for a long time. But Levi Onwuzurike needs to play next to him. The interior of the Seattle defensive line is clearly a key to stopping the run but they need to supply interior pressure as well. Reed did this. Ford might not be able. But Onwuzurike could.
Levi Onwuzurike opted out of the 2020 season, just as many college football players did last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Onwuzurike’s last year in college in 2019, he had 6 tackles for loss and 2 sacks in 12 games. In his sophomore year of 2018, he had 6.5 tackles and 3 sacks. And the abilities Onwuzurike has – nimble feet and strong upper body – should translate better to the NFL than maybe it even did in college.
Did I mention that Onwuzurike played college football at the University of Washington? He did. And the Seahawks need to take him in the second round and keep him playing football in Seattle for the next several years.
Seahawks should replace Jarran Reed with Levi Onwuzurike
Onwuzurike didn’t play out of position at U-Dub as a defensive tackle. He is 6’3″ and 300 pounds and played where he should have. But his skill set might not have been used to his greatest abilities because the Huskies defensive scheme didn’t need to use him in any other way than what they did, which was to plug the middle and get occasional pressure on the quarterback.
We should remember that while Jarran Reed did supply interior pressure during his time with the Seahawks that when Reed was in college at Alabama he had just one sack in each of his junior and senior seasons. Reed’s game translated better to what the Seahawks needed on an NFL level and so will Onwuzurike’s.
Reed and Onwuzurike are basically the same size with Reed being just slightly bigger. But both are fairly athletic and both have light feet which makes them tougher to block, especially when an opposing quarterback drops back to pass. Onwuzurike had Pro Football Focus’s highest grade among interior pass rushers in the PAC-12 in 2019. He can chase down quarterbacks and will be better in the NFL.
Like nearly every player coming from college to the NFL, Onwuzurike will need to work on his core strength and he shouldn’t be expected to start week one of his rookie season. But the Seahawks wouldn’t need him to. He needs to be ready to supply depth and maybe start in 2022. If Seattle smartly takes Onwuzurike in this year’s draft then Onwuzurike should team with Poona Ford to wreak havoc for seasons to come in Seattle.