Report: Saints to virtually interview big-time DT prospect Levi Onwuzurike

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John Sigler
·2 min read
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The Draft Network’s Justin Melo reports that the New Orleans Saints are doubling back to speak with Washington Huskies draft prospect Levi Onwuzurike, one of the top defensive tackles in this year’s class. Melo adds that every team met with Onwuzurike at the Senior Bowl in January, so this would be New Orleans’ second chat with the Huskies standout.

It’s easy to see why they’re interested. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 283 pounds, Onwuzurike created 95 tackles (47 solo, 16 tackles for loss) in 34 games with Washington before opting out of his senior year to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. While it’s early and draft boards are taking shape across the league, he’s a viable first-round prospect, as is N.C. State’s Alim McNeill, who Melo reported New Orleans also plans to interview.

Big changes are on the way for the Saints defensive line, so looking at high-profile options in the draft makes sense. Sheldon Rankins is a free agent, and Malcom Brown could be a salary cap casualty. Rankins played the second-most snaps among Saints defensive tackles last year (472) while Brown placed third-most (390). If New Orleans loses both players, they’d be left with David Onyemata (666) and a combination of Shy Tuttle, Malcolm Roach, Ryan Glasgow, and Jalen Dalton (639 combined snaps) under contract.

Onyemata is a force and that group has some promising youngsters, but adding a blue-chip prospect like Onwuzurike would help build some confidence. He logged a career pressure rate of 14.2% at Washington, per Pro Football Focus; for context, Onyemata led the Saints defensive tackles with a 7.3% pressure rate in 2020. So remember his name on draft day.