The Detroit Lions put the finishing touches on their 2021 NFL Draft class just over a week ago, and since, there’s been plenty of debate about what kind of players the team will be getting.
When the new class gets on the field, what can be expected from the players? On both sides of the ball there are plenty of studs coming in, and plenty of chances for the Lions to get players who will impact their team in several different ways.
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So what can be expected from Detroit’s new class? Here’s a look at some superlatives that could help folks make sense of what could be yet to come from this group.
Most Likely to Succeed: Penei Sewell, Offensive Tackle
It doesn’t seem like a stretch to say that Sewell is the most pro-ready of any of the players the Lions drafted, and that comes not only thanks to his play, but his ability to carry himself. From day one, Sewell is going to be put in a good position to have success at the next level, and it will not be a shock to see him having that success in a fast way with the team. It’s tough to think of another first-round pick in Detroit that was so set up to succeed in his first season in the league.
Most Likely to Surprise in First Year: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Wide Receiver
St. Brown lasted until the fourth-round of the draft, but it’s likely the wideout couldn’t have found a better spot to play given the needs the Lions have at wide receiver. As a result, it could be anticipated that St. Brown comes into the mix and plays a big starters role early on for the Lions. Many might not understand what he brings to the mix, but the good news is, St. Brown should have a good chance to show it to the team right away. Detroit didn’t select St. Brown early, so he might be overlooked. That will only set folks up to be more surprised who see him play a big role for the team right off the bat.
Most Likely to Be Productive: Levi Onwuzurike, Defensive Tackle
It won’t be a stretch to see Onwuzurike in the rotation early and pushing folks back up front for the team. The Lions had a need at defensive tackle, and in Onwuzurike, they managed to get a player who is physical and tough that will bring the right mindset from day one. It would be tough to think that such a player won’t be a key part of the rotation for the Lions and their defense. Onwuzurike seems to fit the part in terms of the nasty lineman the Lions were looking for, and therefore, he figures to be a very solid option for the team.
Most Likely to Disappoint: Alim McNeill, Defensive Tackle
This isn’t to say McNeill will be a bad pro, far from it, actually. Simply put, it’s going to take time for the youngster to get on the field and fight through a depth chart which does have a few other pieces in the mix at this point in time. McNeill could have to fight Onwuzurike for snaps, and that could be tough given the PAC-12 product could be a bit more polished early in his career. McNeill can grow into a solid player, but it could take some time. Fans should temper their expectations for him early on in his rookie season as a result as he transitions to the NFL.
Most Likely to Be a Statistical Beast: Derrick Barnes, Linebacker
Barnes has the chance to come in and play a huge role at a needy linebacker spot. In college, he was a tackling machine and the same could be expected of him once he gets into the NFL. Many won’t know what to expect from Barnes, but the Lions have a chance to get a player who can track folks down with speed and aggression on the second level of the defense. It’s possible Detroit hasn’t had a linebacker with the biggest chance to put up stats since Stephen Tulloch or DeAndre Levy.
Most Likely to Be Forgotten: Jermar Jefferson, Running Back
The Lions released Kerryon Johnson from the roster in an unexpected move, so that might already show they are prepared to give Jefferson a longer look than many might expect from a seventh-round pick. Buried behind the likes of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, it could be tough to remember Jefferson, so he will have to fight every day to keep his name in the forefront of everyone’s mind. If he can make some plays this will happen.
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