Numbers Show How Lions Trusted Rookie Class During Week 1

Penei Sewell

Getty Penei Sewell blocks for the Lions vs. the 49ers in Week 1 of the 2021 season.

The Detroit Lions battled and lost during a close game in Week 1, but the most interesting part of that reality might revolve around the team they actually put on the field.

Coming into the 2021 season, it was understood that the Lions would have one of the youngest rosters in the game. That proved to be the case during the San Francisco 49ers, as the Lions rolled out tons of rookies and gave them plenty of in-game action.

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After Week 1, Pro Football Focus writer Michael Renner revealed that the Lions were a top three team in the league in terms of rookie snaps. As Renner pointed out, the team had a total of 217 snaps from their rookies. While that was 100 less snaps than the New York Jets had and 51 less than the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was still an eye-opening total.

The number also may not take into account other young players that played big roles as well, such as wideouts like Trinity Benson, Quintez Cephus and Khalif Raymond, defenders like Tracy Walker, Will Harris and Amani Oruwariye in addition to weapons like D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson. While these players don’t represent rookies, they are young players who have talent for the roster to build around.


Lions Have Very Young 2021 NFL Roster

More often than not, when the Lions revealed a signing or a trade this past offseason, it’s been for a younger player with upside. As the team gets set to start another year on the field, the numbers behind this are becoming quite stark and hard to ignore in terms of the young culture the team is trying to build.

As Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com pointed out on Twitter recently, the Lions suddenly decreased their roster age in a big way. Their team’s average age is hovering at just over 24 years old. The number of players who are age 30 or above has been slashed down dramatically, and things have been turned over halfway in terms of who has stayed and gone from last season.

If it was change that Lions fans wanted from the past, they have received it from the new regime in a big way considering these facts. This season, as Week 1 showed, the Lions can prepare to see a ton of run from their rookie class, so watching to see how they improve and grow should be fun.


Examining Lions’ Rookie Standouts From Week 1

The lions saw a ton of rookie players play a huge role for them in the first week of the season. Perhaps the biggest contributor was offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who looked like he was prepared to become one of the league’s next great things along the team’s offensive front. From there, the Lions saw some nice snaps from rookie wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown, who would finish with 23 yards on 2 receptions in the game. Rookie defensive lineman Alim McNeill played a big role up front and was able to finish with 2 tackles on the day. Linebacker Derrick Barnes and cornerback A.J. Parker finished with 1 tackle each. While he didn’t show on the stat sheet, rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu nearly picked off a pass and would finish with 12 snaps on the day. He could see a quick bump in time. Rookie defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike and running back Jermar Jefferson did not play, so these totals could be expanded in the future.

Detroit’s rookie class is charged with setting the foundation for the franchise’s new-look coaching staff. As this stat shows, they will be given plenty of chances to show they can get that done this year.

READ NEXT: Grading the Lions for Week 1 Loss


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