The Detroit Lions have the goal of getting bigger, more physical and more athletic and managed to do that in a big way with their first selection of the third-round.
N.C. State defensive lineman Alim McNeill was the selection of the Lions at pick 72, and he brings with him the ability to be an absolute unicorn up front. Big, physical and yet deft, McNeill has experience playing both offense and defense, though he played primarily on the defensive side of the ball in college. He also played baseball, pointing to his overall athleticism for a big guy.
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Now, he will be counted on to beef up Detroit’s needy defensive front, and many believe he can do just that. Coming into the draft process, McNeill was a favorite of Pro Football Focus, who referred to him as one of the better defensive line prospects around.
— Barstool Pack (@BarstoolPack) May 1, 2021
“One of my favorite players in this class, a guy that’s not being talked about enough. He’s a nose guard for the Wolfpack. He wears number 29. He is a former linebacker and running back in high school. He was a legitimate monster at running back in high school, had offers from Alabama amongst other blue blood programs. Goes to NC State and absolutely dominates. One of the highest run defense rates in the country, one of the highest pass rush win rates in the country. This guy is a legitimate inside line prospect who can win early in the snap as a pass rusher.”
In Detroit, he will be counted on to plug the middle of the line and generate some push toward the pocket to fix the trouble the Lions have in the trenches.
McNeill’s Freakish Interception
So just how athletic is McNeill? It’s not everyday a defensive lineman can grab an interception and rumble effortlessly into the end zone for a touchdown, but that’s just what he managed to do playing for the Wolfpack in his college career.
Here’s a look at the video of the pick:
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) October 10, 2020
Wondering what McNeill looks like as a running back? Wonder no more. Here he is trucking players in high school and looking very powerful in the process.
320 lb Alim McNeill is DT2 in the NFL Draft
He also played RB in High School
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) May 1, 2021
Speaking after his selection, McNeill explained that the transition to lineman wasn’t that dramatic.
“It wasn’t that hard of a transition. After a week of college football and camp I caught on pretty quick. Being able to make moves over guards that I was a lot quicker than kind of gave me an edge in games,” he said.
McNeill’s Stats and Highlights
While playing for N.C. State, McNeill collected 77 tackles, 17.5 tackles for-loss, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 5 passes defended. He also scored 1 touchdown in his career. Obviously, those are the type of numbers that point to a guy who can move around and make a lot of plays along a front, which is just what he will be asked to do with the Lions and their very needy defensive line.
Here’s a look at some highlights of McNeill:
The Lions are hoping the athleticism that is shown in these clips shines through to help him become a star at the next level.