The Detroit Lions have made a move to get their 2021 draft class under contract, and the first shoe has dropped in the form of a defender.
On Thursday night, the Lions signed defensive tackle Alim McNeill to his rookie contract. The deal was a four-year contract that included a $1,090,312 signing bonus. Word of the contract was leaked by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.
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According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, McNeill will be making some decent money his first few years in the league, and McNeill was able to max out his rookie deal.
The hope for the Lions is he blossoms into a star up front for their defense, and it’s clear by getting him in the mix first they are hopeful this will happen.
McNeill Was Called ‘Legitimate Monster’
What are the Lions getting with McNeill? 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.
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.
“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 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. Now, he’s coming into the mix and will be the first player who gets signed to do so.