3. DL Alim McNeill
McNeill made Pro Football Focus’ 2021 All-Rookie Team, with the site’s second-highest grade for a rookie interior defensive lineman. He also earned PFF’s second-best run defense grade for a rookie interior defensive lineman credited with at least 100 run-defense snaps. He also showed flashes as a pass rusher, with two sacks, eight pressures and five hurries (via Pro Football Reference).
McNeill looks like a future mainstay for the Lions’ defensive line. More playing time is in store for 2022.
2. CB Amani Oruwariye
In a certain light, Oruwariye became was Jeff Okudah was already supposed to in 2021–the Lions’ No. 1 cornerback. Despite missing the last three games of the season with a broken thumb, he finished third in the league with six interceptions while adding 11 passes defensed with a 74.1 passer rating allowed in his coverage.
Oruwariye has already started to get notice as a rising star. Another offseason, training camp and preseason working with defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn (assuming he doesn’t get a head coaching job) and defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant will only bring more refinement of his game and, possibly, even better things in 2022.