Detroit Lions reunite brothers, pick Notre Dame DE Julian Okwara in NFL Draft's third round

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Julian Okwara and Romeo Okwara will finally be teammates.

The Detroit Lions decided to pair the brothers together by selecting former Notre Dame defensive end Julian Okwara in the third round of the NFL Draft on Friday night.

Okwara's older brother Romeo, who went undrafted in 2016, signed with the Lions in 2018. Romeo Okwara recorded 28 tackles as a defensive end in Detroit last season.

The Okwaras, who lived in Lagos, Nigeria as young children, were never teammates at Notre Dame or Charlotte (N.C.) Ardrey Kell. Julian Okwara enrolled at Notre Dame months after Romeo Okwara signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants.

Julian Okwara said at the NFL Scouting Combine that it would be awesome to play with his older brother.

"I actually messed around with him the other day and was telling him I’m moving in and I’m not going to be the one paying rent," Julian Okwara said. "I told him I’ll sleep on the couch a little bit and let him build me a room or something like that."

Julian Okwara, selected with pick No. 67, is the fifth defensive end to be drafted during head coach Brian Kelly's tenure. He became the first picked since 2017 when the Los Angeles Chargers selected Isaac Rochell in the seventh round and the highest selected since the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Stephon Tuitt in 2014 (round two, pick 46).

Okwara finished his Notre Dame career with 77 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks and 35 quarterback hurries in 45 games with 21 starts. Okwara's senior season was cut four games short with a broken left fibula against Duke in early November. That limited his season total to 18 tackles, six tackles for a loss, four sacks and seven hurries.

The 6-foot-4, 252-pound Okwara was unable to complete the testing portion of the NFL Scouting Combine as he was still recovering from his broken leg.

Okwara showed his NFL potential in his junior season when he recorded 38 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and 21 hurries.

Okwara joined the Irish as a four-star recruit in the 2016 class. Rivals ranked him as the No. 18 weakside defensive end that year. 247Sports slated him No. 25 at the position.

Defensive end Julian Okwara finished his Notre Dame career with 77 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks and 35 quarterback hurries in 45 games.