T Twentyman: Lions getting solid contributions from rookie class

“When I was at New Orleans, we had some pretty good crop of young guys, but this group is something else,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said Tuesday.

"They’re all contributing, and they really have come up big in critical moments for us and that’s not always the case with that many young guys.

“We’re fortunate to have them. It shows that they’re developing, their teammates trust them, the coaches, we trust them to put them in those situations and they’re very much a part of why we’re winning. They are, so they’re doing well.”

Last half is on Alim McNeil:


Lions third-year defensive lineman Alim McNeill had the goal coming into this season to play more on the opponent side of the line of scrimmage. It’s been well documented how he transformed his body this offseason, losing weight and adding quickness in hopes of accomplishing that goal.

Through 11 weeks of football McNeill is playing the best football of his career. He’s the sixth highest graded interior defender by Pro Football Focus and already has a career-high 5.0 sacks with seven games remaining.

“He’s playing big right now,” Campbell said of McNeill. "He’s having a really, really good season and I thought he really showed up (Sunday) night. And he played physical. I thought he won his one-on-ones.

“He’s winning these one-on-ones right now with violence and he’s able to shed the block and he’s really – he’s giving us some interior rush right now. And that’s all technique, effort and he’s maximizing his ability right now. So, he is a vital part of what we are and what we can be on defense. I mean, he is, he’s playing at a high level.”

McNeill has also notched career highs in tackles for loss (6) and quarterback hits (9) so far this season.

“That’s the only way you can have success in this league is playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage,” McNeill said this week. “If you’re playing at the line of scrimmage or behind it, it’s not going to do you any good. The goal was to create and wreak havoc on the offensive line the best we can.”

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McNeil has really turned into a consistent force at DT. The Lions need to go get another legit starting level DT in the offseason to pair with McNeil. Then we can use the patchwork vets as depth. But I bet McNeil could shine even more with someone taking some pressure off him (so could Hutch)

I think McNeil is your 3t he been really good there , Benito has been pretty good as the Run stoping NT. We do need another DT to rotate with these guys.

Def need to add a piece or two for sure

Leonard Williams, Chris Jones, Danielle Hunter, Jerome Baker, Grover Stewart

its a solid DE/DT FA class and we can pick up a piece in the draft

There’s all the talk of the Core 4 of Goff, Sewell, St. Brown and Hutchinson and needing to lock those guys up long term. Well, I think McNeil is making that a Core 5. All guys at premium positions. That’s the core you build around.

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