Which Detroit Lions rookie taken after Penei Sewell will make his presence known in 2021?
The Detroit Lions roster is in a place right now where they could realistically get a lot of contributions out of their rookies. Whether it be the seven players they took in the 2021 NFL Draft or any of their 13 undrafted rookies , Detroit could use some help, and those 20 players will get their shot this season.
We all know that of the lot, Penei Sewell has the most potential. He has a direct line to the starting lineup as the team’s right tackle, and he was the first non-skill position player taken in this year’s class. His 2021 impact is a given.
But for the other 19 rookies currently on the roster, it’s hard to know exactly what their role will be in 2021. Plenty of them will make the roster. Some will have a role on offense or defense. Others will be special teamers—and the rest will likely spend 2021 on the practice squad or with some other team.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Aside from Penei Sewell, which Lions rookie will have the biggest 2021 impact?
My answer: Alim McNeill.
The Lions’ third-round pick has a pretty easy path to a significant role on defense. While he’ll have to beat out John Penisini for the nose tackle job, I don’t believe it will be much of a challenge for him. Detroit is going to want the ability to one-gap and pass rush from their nose, and Penisini is a classic two-gapping run stuffer.
McNeill’s short-area quickness is going to pop in training camp, and he’s pretty darn good at stopping the run, too. As Penisini showed last year, it’s entirely possible for a nose tackle to look comfortable out there right away, and I expect McNeill to get plenty of playing time in 2021.
If I were to pick a second player, it would probably be Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was not only a steal for the Lions, but very well could be Detroit’s leading candidate for the slot receiver job.