Lions UDFA profile: Illinois LB Isaac Darkangelo
One of the undrafted free agent rookies hoping to make some noise in the upcoming Lions rookie minicamp is linebacker Isaac Darkangelo. The Illinois LB signed with Detroit after not hearing his name called in the 2023 NFL draft.
Darkangelo does have some things to offer the Lions. A Detroit native (Central Catholic HS), Darkangelo’s highlights from Illinois can easily be mistaken for Malcolm Rodriguez, the Lions’ sixth-rounder from a year ago who saw considerable playing time as a rookie.
Like Rodriguez, Darkangelo is short and compactly built at a hair over 6′ and 227 muscular pounds. He’s got outstanding instincts and tackling power in run defense. An Academic All-American, his play processing is one step ahead of many peers, and he’s got an outstanding initial burst to the ball.
Also like “Rodrigo,” he’s got the underdog card to play. Darkangelo began his career at D-II Northern Michigan. He transferred to the Illini as a preferred walk-on. He emerged as Illinois’ leading tackler and defensive spirit animal in 2022. Much like Rodriguez, he’s much better moving forward and attacking than trailing after receiving targets in space, and Darkangelo will need to fit through the traffic trash better if he’s to stick in Detroit.
The Lions do have a need for a depth LB who can excel on special teams. That’s likely Darkangelo’s shot at making it through the summer in Detroit.