Detroit Lions DL Alim McNeill ranked as ‘breakout player' for 2022
We are less than two weeks away from the start of Detroit Lions training camp (rookies actually report in just five days and veterans in eight) and the excitement continues to build for what could be a fun season.
In order for the Lions to take a big leap forward from their 3-13-1 record from a year ago, they are going to need some of their younger players to have a breakout season.
One young player who will have to elevate his game in 2022 is second-year defensive lineman, Alim McNeill.
Earlier in the offseason, Lions DL coach Todd Wash has the following to say about McNeill.
“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.”
Alim McNeill is poised to have a breakout season for the Detroit Lions
According to ESPN writer Mike Renner, Alim McNeill is the No. 10 ranked breakout player for the 2022 season.
Here is what Renner has to say about McNeill:
McNeil was another very young draft pick coming out of NC State and didn't turn 21 until a couple of weeks after he was drafted. That isn't a minor detail for the rigors of holding up to double teams in the NFL. Even so, McNeill still held his own for a 60.1 overall grade on 422 snaps as a rookie.
His inclusion comes primarily from what he put on tape in Weeks 17 and 18 last season. McNeill earned two of his three highest single-game grades of the year in those contests (75.8 and 79.5 overall) while playing 65 snaps between the two.
Despite being two years younger and drafted a round later than Levi Onwuzurike, whom Detroit selected at No. 41, McNeill considerably out-graded his defensive tackle counterpart. That means he should be getting every opportunity to break out in 2022 on a much-improved Lions defensive line.
Nation, are you buying all of this Alim McNeill hype heading into the 2022 season, or do you think we should pump the brakes a bit? Personally, I expect great things.