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Lions news: Detroit dominates ESPN’s All-Youngster roster

Detroit Lions players made up 18% of ESPN’s list of the best NFL players under 24 years old.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

Youth is the name of the game in the NFL. General managers chase young players for their roster because they’re both cheaper and improve the stock and long-term health of their franchise.

That’s clearly the strategy Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes has been following since taking over the team in 2021. He built up draft capital, shed the books of pricey veterans, and since then, the Lions have been one of the youngest teams in football.

According to a recent ESPN piece from Matt Miller and Matt Bowen, the Lions have also done an incredible job finding talented young players. The ESPN duo created a 22-player roster of the best NFL talent under 24 years old, as well as a second-team.

In total, the Lions had four players make the list: tight end Sam LaPorta, right tackle Penei Sewell (ESPN puts him at left tackle to fit Darnell Wright on the team), edge defender Aidan Hutchinson and linebacker Jack Campbell. To be clear, all four of those players were first-team selections, meaning Detroit accounted for four of 22 players—or 18 percent of the entire list.

What’s even more promising is there are a few Lions players that very well could have made the list. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs is only 21 years old, and his statistical output is actually very close to that of ESPN’s selection: Bijan Robinson.

Note: Robinson has played 496 snaps, Gibbs has played 379.

Jahmyr Gibbs: 109 carries, 566 yards (5.2 YPC), 5 TDs; 41 catches 278 yards
Bijan Robinson: 141 carries, 703 yards (5.0 YPC), 3 TDs; 32 catches, 240 yards, 3 TDs

The list also does not include 22-year-old Brian Branch, who has 51 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six passes defended, and a pick six in his rookie season. Players like Alim McNeill (23 yards old), Jameson Williams (22), Kerby Joseph (23), and Josh Paschal (23) all figure to be central figures in this team’s future and have flashed the ability to be not just good, but great.

In short, the future remains very bright for this squad. Check out ESPN’s full squad of under-24 players here.

  • You want another sign this year is different? Per MLive, the Lions’ current 2.5-game lead in the NFC North is the franchise’s biggest in December in nearly 70 years:

  • Despite Thursday’s struggles, the Lions offensive line is still kicking a lot of butt this season:

  • Once again, officiating has become a huge topic in the NFL. I thought this conversation between Rich Eisen and former NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino was enlightening:

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.