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Notes: Detroit Lions’ defensive line ranked middle-of-the-pack

The Lions’ defensive line is still considered below average, but their ceiling could be higher.

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

We all know the Detroit Lions’ perceived strength right now is their offensive line. With three first-round picks scheduled to start along the front five, anything less than a top-10 performance out of that unit would be a disappointment.

But what about the defensive line? The Lions have poured a lot of resources into that this offseason. They handed Romeo Okwara a big new contract. They traded for veteran Michael Brockers. Then they went out and drafted Levi Onwuzurike in the second round and Alim McNeill in the third round. That’s not quite as many resources pumped into the defensive line, but it’s clear they’re trying to make a big improvement from a disappointing performance last year.

And at least one outlet believes they may have made significant progress. According to friend-of-the-podcast Brett Whitefield, the Lions have the 19th-best defensive line headed into training camp.

“If the interior group holds up, the defensive line unit as a whole could be on the rise,” Whitefield wrote for FTN Fantasy.

PFF wasn’t quite as optimistic. In their offseason rankings, the Lions placed 24th.

“Detroit’s defensive line unit finished the 2020 season ranked 30th in PFF grade, ahead of only the Vikings and Texans,” PFF’s Ben Linsey noted. “Several offseason additions on the interior — such as Michael Brockers, Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill — along with the return of a healthy Trey Flowers should improve matters in 2021, but the Lions still have a ways to go to get back to average.”

How much the Lions improve in their defensive front could have a major impact on how things go on that side of the ball. Fail to get to the quarterback, and it could be another long season for the Lions.

  • To all of you Tweeters and Facebookers, the Lions are hiring a social media manager:

  • Lions general manager Brad Holmes spoke with DetroitLions.com about how it was important to him to “maximize that strength” of an already-strong offensive line this offseason.