Washington Huskies defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike enters the 2021 NFL draft after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. The 2019 All-Pac-12 First Team defender remains an appealing early-round prospect who will be an attractive option for teams that are looking for a big and physical presence in the interior of their defensive line that eats up blocks and paves the way for his second-level defenders to make plays.
Onwuzurike was a three-star recruit out of Allen High School in Allen Texas who received 26 scholarship offers from several big-time programs like Georgia, Michigan, and Oregon before choosing Washington. He totaled 53 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss during his final high school season and was ranked the No. 101 prospect in the nation by Scout.com.
Onwuzurike redshirted his freshman season before seeing significant action in 2017 as a redshirt freshman. He played in 12 of 13 games and ended the year as an Academic All-Pac-12 second-teamer. He was elevated to the starting lineup in 2018 when he logged four starts (played in all 13 games). Onwuzurike broke out in 2019 when he started 12 of 13 games played and finished the year as a First Team All-Pac-12 defender. He ended the 2019 season with 45 tackles, six tackles for loss, and two sacks, bringing his career totals as a Huskie to 95 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and seven sacks.
Physically, Onwuzurike is a legitimate 6-3, 290 pounds. He has long arms and his weight is evenly distributed between his upper and lower body. He’s powerful at the point of attack and is rarely moved off of his mark by opposing offensive linemen.
Athletically, Onwuzurike flashes some ability as a penetrator, but he’s more of a big-bodied physical presence a guy who will live in opposing backfields. He’s coordinated and maintains his balance through contact, and his hands are active and powerful off the snap. He doesn’t have the kind of twitchy juice that is en vogue for top-end interior defenders right now, but he checks the necessary boxes to project success on the NFL level.
Against the run, Onwuzurike profiles as a quality 4-3 defensive tackle who will attract double teams because of his power and ability to stack and shed in one-on-one situations. He clogs running lanes and is an asset to his teammates, even if he isn’t filling up the box score himself. Onwuzurike is a reliable tackler when in position to finish, but he isn’t going to rack up solo stops or tackles for loss in the NFL.
Against the pass, Onwuzurike is more of a clean-up pass-rusher than a player who will effect the passing game on his own. He plays with good leverage and has enough power to collapse the pocket, but he won’t be drafted because of what he brings on passing downs.
Overall, Onwuzurike is a well-rounded defender with starter’s upside because of his projection as an asset on running downs. He’ll do his job; he isn’t going to get bullied by his opponent and he’ll make it a challenge for running backs headed in his direction. The holes won’t be there. But for as much value as that has, the NFL is a pass-first league, and Onwuzurike isn’t a player who is going to make a massive impact in that area. That, combined with his lack of tape in 2020 and his limited action at the Senior Bowl, will result in a likely mid-to-late Day-2 value, which is right where he should come off the board.
GRADE: 7.2 (third round)