The Detroit Lions are loaded on the defensive line, at least if you believe their general manager Bob Quinn. This story by our sister site, “Pride of Detroit”, has more on that. The reality is that the line could be loaded, but it’s far from a proven commodity. According to the same article, only one of their 13 lineman is over the age of 27, and that’s proven defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
That’s good and bad news for former Eastern Michigan Eagles standout Pat O’Connor, the Lions 7th round pick. To understand what kind of chance he has to make the roster and contribute, let’s look at his journey to the Lions camp.
O’Connor was impressive when he was on the field for the Eagles, unfortunately he had some injury problems. It was doubtful that he would get drafted until he had a standout performance at the Michigan pro day. That’s a testament to just how impressive he was, because there were 11 Wolverines selected in the draft.
Generally, a guy from the MAC that is struggling to make an NFL roster is missing something. Maybe he isn’t quite tall enough, or lacks the foot speed. The only question mark for me with O’Connor are the injuries. He is 6’4 and 275 pounds, which is the ideal size for an NFL defensive end, and can move. His stats at Eastern reflect that. 20 sacks and 34 tackles for a loss in 36 games. I am not going to pretend to know all the intricacies of Illinois football, or even pretend that I care. Recruiting isn’t really my thing. However, what is interesting to me is that he and 3rd round pick Kenny Golladay, his high school teammate, didn’t end up at power 5 schools. Both are physically impressive, and have shown the talent.
It’s precisely because of this impressive physical presence that O’Connor has the opportunity to make the squad. With the style the Lions employ, if he makes the squad, you’ll almost certainly see him in the game on Sundays.