Lions Rookie Lineman Named Potential Late-Round Surprise for 2021

Alim McNeill

Getty Alim McNeill grabs a break during Lions camp in 2021.

Alim McNeill has been the early talk of training camp for the Detroit Lions, and the rookie lineman continues to impress with not only his play but his preparation.

McNeill is putting his best foot forward so far at Lions camp, and folks are beginning to take notice around the league of what the youngster has been doing thus far and what it could mean in terms of his future in the league.

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Recently, Pro Football Focus took a look at identifying late-round rookies who could surprise during the 2021 season. Writer Anthony Treash selected McNeill as such a player to watch form the Lions perspective, and wrote that he believes McNeill could be in line for a potential starting role with the team in 2021.

McNeill was a fourth-round pick for the Lions, and a player the team reportedly liked enough to trade up for into the draft. If he were to start, it might not be that big of a surprise given the intense needs the defense has for help in the trenches for 2021.


Defensive Line Rotation Could Favor Alim McNeill Cracking Roster

The Lions have changed a lot about their defense heading toward the 2021 season. Aaron Glenn wants to run a 3-4 look, which means there should be ample opportunities for players to step up in the middle of the line and create a role for themselves. This offseason, the team added Levi Onwuzurike, Michael Brockers and McNeill to the mix up front. They also maintained quality holdovers from 2020 like John Penisini and Nick Williams. Now, the biggest intrigue revolves around who will be able to assert themselves for what role. Given the need for young players to not only push the pocket but clog running lanes, McNeill could have an inside track given his ability to do both of these things impressively for the Lions.

Camp work as well as how McNeill shows in the preseason will tell the tale of where his career leads early this season, but thus far, the early returns seem to be positive for the young lineman in Detroit.


McNeill’s College Stats and Highlights

Entering his first season in the NFL, McNeill is bringing production with him to the big league. 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 no matter what role he plays.

Here’s a look at some highlights of McNeill:


Alim McNeill || Matchup Nightmare || Official Highlights || "Social Distancing"Alim McNeill has a good motor and a really powerful first move. It was really fun watching his tape and I can't wait to see how he performs this year. Follow me on Twitter @GioNFLDraft My Website: thescorecrow.com2020-05-16T16:00:00Z

The Lions are hoping the athleticism that is shown in these clips shines through to help him become a star at the next level. With his play and his positive mindset showing through, it’s more than possible that can become the case in the end.

Many might not be that surprised if it ends up happening for McNeill quickly in Detroit.

READ NEXT: Lions Sign Former Fourth-Round Pick to Final Roster Spot


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