Lions’ 2021 Draft Class Rises to Receive Perfect Grade Following Season

Penei Sewell

Getty Penei Sewell runs on the field before his debut with the Lions.

The bedrock of any successful NFL team is always the draft, and to that end, it might not be a shock if the Detroit Lions start winning soon.

Last season, the team’s draft was rated quite elite even though Brad Holmes didn’t yet have much of a track record. He revealed his presence in a big way with the moves he made, and now, those decisions are receiving plenty of love.

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Pro Football Focus and writer Michael Renner took a fresh look at regrading last year’s class and found that things only got better for the team on the grade sheet. Last season, PFF gave the Lions an A- for their work. That rises to an A after what the Lions were able to do on the field this season.

As Renner wrote, “no team got more snaps out of its rookie class than the Lions.” That work paid off in the form of Penei Sewell and Amon-Ra St. Brown, players that Renner admitted would be a “stud” and “reliable slot” for the team respectively. As he admitted, though, there are still question marks the team will have.

Historically, Lions draft class grades drop like a rock immediately, but not in this case. It’s further proof that the team may have turned over the proper new leaf when it comes to drafting under their new regime.

Lions’ 2021 Draft Rated High After Season

Detroit’s class played a leading role in their season, and while the Lions stumbled to a 3-13-1 finish, the experience the team got on the field was the most important thing to note. It isn’t a stretch to say the rookies played the biggest role on the team most of the year, which was a great development for the Detroit cause.

After the season concluded, folks began to take note of the fact that the Lions might just have one of the best draft classes in the league. That concept has been popularized and took the love to yet another level within a piece a few months back.

Rating every class in the league, the site managed to give the Lions one of the highest grades at an A- and they came in fourth position overall against their competition. Writer Gennaro Filice took a look at breaking down all of Detroit’s selections and he admitted to being impressed with the work the team did even in spite of the many ups and downs rookie players face. As he wrote in the piece, “with Year 1 in the books, Detroit’s new regime deserves a hearty slap on the back for the rookie class as a whole.”

From Amon-Ra St. Brown’s impressive 912 yards and 5 touchdown finish to Alim McNeill collecting 2 sacks and 39 tackles to the 16 starts by Penei Sewell at tackle, the class was phenomenal top to bottom and offers the team a nice chance at forming a bedrock for the future, especially combined with what most believe is a sensational 2022 class coming in.

Lions 2021 NFL Draft Recap

Detroit came into the draft and was wide open for the most part after selecting Sewell in the 2021 NFL Draft and even after Onwuzurike in the second-round. In the third-round, the Lions selected defensive lineman McNeill and cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu. Day three, the Lions picked St.Brown, a wideout, and Barnes, a linebacker. Finally, the team closed out their draft by grabbing Jefferson, a running back, in the seventh-round. Sewell’s addition feels huge given what the team needs, as are the defensive fill-ins at key spots.

No matter whether it was offense or defense, the Lions seemed to fill their needs very confidently as the weekend rolled on. The class had good balance, and it also managed to gain a few more upgrades with the undrafted free agent class, bolstered by Jerry Jacobs and AJ Parker.

The team’s first few drafts with a new regime seems to be off to a good start in the minds of many league experts. Seeing the work this group did on the field for 2021 gives hope for the team’s future, and the grades just keep climbing.

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