The moment you will see below is just after the Eagles traded down in the third round and selected DT Milton Williams, one pick after the Lions selected McNeill.
— Eagles Nation (@PHLEaglesNation) May 1, 2021
When Lions GM Brad Holmes first saw that video, he got a chuckle out of it.
“Somebody mentioned that there was something that came out about us selecting Alim,” he said with a laugh. “I had no idea and then I saw the video the next day. But he’s another one that we’re just extremely thrilled to land. … But yeah, it was kind of amusing when I saw the video.”
During his rookie season, McNeill did not have the impact he hoped he would have as he had just 39 tackles (3 for loss) and two sacks, so he made some offseason changes and he is poised to make some noise in 2022.
Becoming a leader
We already know that Alim McNeill is big (6-2, 325) and we certainly know he is strong (he pretty much owns the weight room in Allen Park), but according to Lions defensive line coach Todd Wash, he has also emerged as a leader on the team.
“He's one of the leaders in the room. He's definitely the biggest guy in the room, but he's one of the leaders in the room, he and (veteran Michael Brockers),” Wash said. “And you're seeing a transition of him, of taking the room over, which is what we want.”
After not living up this his own expectations during his rookie season, McNeill decided to help his own cause by becoming “more professional” during the offseason.
“Rookie year, everything is thrown at you so fast, it's kind of hard to soak everything up,” McNeill said earlier this month. “So I helped myself this offseason by becoming more of a professional, taking things more serious — my eating habits, sleep, all that type of stuff. That's helped me progress to where I am now. I'm nowhere near where I want to be, but we're getting there.”
All of that hard work has paid off as McNeill said he is already feeling the difference.
“Day 2, I was like, ‘OK, now I feel a lot different,'” he said. “I was really explosive, I'm hydrated, very attentive out there. I definitely feel a lot different.”
Detroit Lions DL Alim McNeill is about to be a BIG problem
The Lions are making some adjustments for the 2022 season and Alim McNeill is about to be a big problem for the rest of the NFL.
“Obviously, he can do a lot of different things. But this is really going to get him one-on-one with some centers, you're going to be able to seem more athleticism,” Wash said.
“He has really good play strength. We've seen that. He doesn't get knocked off the ball. We want to see him continue to develop as a pass rusher. When some turns and protections, where he gets one-on-one, this scheme allows him to be on an edge and show his athleticism. So I think the pass rush is really what we're going to see out of Mac.”
When Wash refers to the scheme allowing McNeil to “be on edge” he is not referring to the edge of the defensive line but on the edge of the opposing center. By doing this, when the Lions are in a four-man front, McNeil will be able to use his speed to get by the center and to the quarterback, rather than lining up directly across from the center.
“When I was in the zero (directly across from the center) last year, you have to stay on that center. You can't really just sideswipe him and let him go, can't let him get up to the backers and stuff. With this, I'm just able to get off the ball and do what I do,” McNeill said. “Obviously, this is the NFL — everybody is fast and strong — but just to be able to have that little bit of advantage to play on the edge, it's gonna work out great.”
Folks, look for Alim McNeill to make a big splash in 2022 for the Detroit Lions.