On Pro Football Focus’ list of most improved players for the 2021 season, the Detroit Lions’ player who got the nod is not surprising.
The Detroit Lions didn’t win a lot of games during the 2021 season, but they had some players emerge, breakout, bounce back…or whatever adjective feels appropriate for better production. Some were surely noticed more than others.
Say what you will about Pro Football Focus’ grading system, but it can provide insight into how good or bad a player was within a game, in certain situations or for a whole season. In offseason mode now, they’ve made a list of the most improved player from all 32 NFL teams from the 2021 season. The list is of course based on their grades, and improvement from 2020 to the just finished season.
Detroit Lions’ most improved player in 2021, according to PFF, is not surprising
For the Lions, Pro Football Focus probably had an easy time finding the player who’s grade improved the most from 2020.
"Detroit Lions: EDGE Charles HarrisPFF Grade change from 2020 to 2021: 55.7 → 68.3 (+12.6)After years of struggles in Miami and a failed turnaround in 2020 with Atlanta, Harris finally made an impact in the pass-rush with Detroit in 2021. The 2017 first-round pick earned a 78.7 pass-rush grade in 2021, surpassing his previous career-high by double-digit grading points and ranking 19th among qualifying edge defenders. Harris’ revitalized season is a testament to the coaching staff in Detroit."
Harris was in the books as a first-round bust after three seasons with the Dolphins and one with the Falcons, over which he totaled 6.5 sacks. He has some cold streaks in his first season as a Lion, but a four-game sack streak (Week 2-Week 5) and a big performance in the Week 15 win over the Arizona Cardinals far exceeded expectations after he signed a cheap one-year deal last offseason.
As Harris now hits free agency, the Lions have to figure out if 2021 was a one-year flash or if it’s sustainable as he has simply found the perfect match of his skills, scheme and coaching staff. In any case, with the premium on edge rushers, he made himself some money in 2021.