Brad Holmes, the general manager of the Detroit Lions through two draft seasons, hasn’t been afraid to take a chance on players who have a history of injuries. Particularly in the second round, that is true.
DL Levi Onwuzurike was chosen by Holmes and the Lions in 2021 from Washington. Josh Paschal of Kentucky was the DE this year. Both had received questionable health reports from their colleges before to being drafted.
Onwuzurike suffered from a persistent back condition, while Paschal missed the Senior Bowl and the conclusion of his senior season due to a groin ailment. Paschal also missed the most of a season while battling cancer on his foot.
The wounds have persisted. Ineffective as a rookie, Onwuzurike has only been able to exercise with protective gear once so far in 2022 before reinjuring himself. Although he is listed on the 53-man roster, head coach Dan Campbell said that due to his “snail’s pace” recuperation, he is unlikely to participate in Week 1.
Paschal, who is on the reserve/PUP list, is unable to participate in his rookie training camp or preseason. The date of his comeback to the field after undergoing surgery for a torn core muscle is unknown.
Holmes was questioned about if the Lions’ process for evaluating injuries with the second-round picks was inadequate during his press conference on Thursday.
“I believe that everything is, particularly when it comes to medicine, where it is always case-by-case. Levi (Onwuzurike) was dealing with a situation that we were aware of and were aware of, so you’re going back with him, Holmes said.
Therefore, he was actually able to accomplish more than he was planning to last year. But you just don’t have that crystal ball quite yet, so he still has to deal with it, which is sad.
Holmes then went on to discuss Paschal. And with Josh Paschal, we were aware of the situation and knew he had to deal with it even though we had a plan in place and have no issues with it. Therefore, it’s not that we’re blaming ourselves or saying, “Oh, we overlooked this or that,” it’s just that these were things for which we had planned.
Of course, Holmes has selected other injured players besides the second-round picks. The Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, who will be out for at least four weeks while he recovers from knee surgery in January, was the prize of his first-round trade.
Despite not being fully recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of Virginia Tech’s last collegiate season, fifth-round tight end James Mitchell is expected to participate in Week 1.
In the event that Onwuzurike and Paschal both fail to materialize in 2022, Holmes will have to consider this issue more carefully in the following draft cycle. Getting nothing out of two top-45 picks due to previous injuries would be a very negative look for Holmes,
even though the Lions are still in the rebuilding process and aren’t usually predicted to compete for the playoffs this year.