If the 2022 Detroit Lions are going to dramatically improve, they are going to need their young players to take a big step in development this upcoming season. Last year, the Lions relied heavily on rookies—more than any other team—and with an extremely modest free agency this offseason, Detroit will be bringing back a lot of those young players to play another significant role in 2022.
We’ve talked a lot about the Year 2 jump for Detroit’s 2021 rookie class, but now PFF is throwing their hat into the ring. On Tuesday, PFF’s Michael Renner ranked 15 players who are second-year breakdown candidates “who could become stars.”
Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill made Renner’s list at number 10.
“McNeil was another very young draft pick coming out of NC State and didn’t turn 21 until a couple of weeks after he was drafted,” Renner noted. “That isn’t a minor detail for the rigors of holding up to double teams in the NFL. Even so, McNeill still held his own for a 60.1 overall grade on 422 snaps as a rookie.
“His inclusion comes primarily from what he put on tape in Weeks 17 and 18 last season. McNeill earned two of his three highest single-game grades of the year in those contests (75.8 and 79.5 overall) while playing 65 snaps between the two.”
Renner isn’t the only one expecting a lot more production from McNeill this year. Detroit’s coaching staff has praised the defensive tackle since he arrived in Detroit, and they believe he is one of the players who will benefit from the defense’s change in scheme and philosophy.
“Last year once we got him here, we were like, ‘Man, this guy has got really good feet and moves well,’” coach Dan Campbell said back in June. “Then just watching his transformation through the year and watching him grow, it’s been good. I think some of the things that we are doing defensively, a little bit more of this attack, we’re going serve him well because he’s got a quick first step. He’s got real good feet and he is powerful.”
Campbell also said he considers McNeill a core of the team.
- Long snapper Scott Daly seems pretty miffed at his Madden 23 rating (as a tight end):
I guess playing tight end in high school didn’t help with my madden ranking this year https://t.co/iKgMXOzvD9— Scott Daly (@sdaly61) July 18, 2022
- Speaking of Madden ratings, here are Lions players debating which one of them should have the highest speed rating on the video game series. A lot of love for a wide receiver not named Jameson Williams:
And here’s Williams correctly predicting his speed score:
- Not a big surprise at all, but the Lions finished last in the NFL in ticket revenue last year.
- The Lions allowed some season ticket members to tour the Lions facility this week. SandmanLions—of slowlights fame—shared these photos of weight room accomplishments from the team. It gives a neat insight both into which players impressed and what metrics the Lions analytics team seems to prioritize.
Got to see these today in Allen Park. Weight room records for this year. pic.twitter.com/GEM98DzQbI— SandmanLions (@Sandman7773) July 18, 2022
- As part of our continuing celebration of Barry Sanders’ 54th birthday, here’s a throwback to an interesting article from our frenemies at Windy City Gridiron. Author Jack M Silverstein talks of a time Barry Sanders crushed his Chicago Bears so hard on Thanksgiving that he couldn’t help but be inspired by the GOAT’s performance.
- Richard Silva of The Detroit News has a nice article detailing the budding, young talent in the tight end room behind T.J. Hockenson.