5 most underappreciated Detroit Lions heading into the 2024 season

The Detroit Lions have gained prominence as a team on a national scale, but these five players remain underappreciated heading into the 2024 season.
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4. LB Alex Anzalone

In some way, Anzalone is a huge symbol of the Lions' culture and the changing perception of the team. He followed Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn from New Orleans as a free agent in 2021, as they sought a familiar player to be part of the defense in Detroit. Since then, he has improved as a player each year and asserted himself as a veteran leader. Tom Blair of NFL.com recently named him as the most underappreciated player on the Lions.

"Teammate Alim McNeill described (Anzalone) as the "LeBron" of the Lions' defense while attempting to illustrate how much Anzalone does for Detroit.......if Anzalone were truly fully appreciated, would McNeill feel the need to evangelize that hard? Anzalone paced Detroit in tackles (129) while chipping in three sacks and six passes defensed last season. He's also clearly morphed into a leader for a team cementing itself among the NFL's top contenders."
-Tom Blair, NFL.com

To be frank, Anzalone is not among the absolutely most talented linebackers in the NFL, and he has been called a dirty player. But he is an ideal fit for the Lions, lauded by teammates and coaches for his play and his intangibles.

3. WR Kalif Raymond

Raymond was a fairly prominent piece of the Lions' offense over his first two years with the team, before largely falling by the wayside last year (30 percent offensive snap share). He remained one of the best punt returners in the league though. His Pro Football Focus receiving grade (76.9) was third on the team, and his overall PFF grade (75.4) was top-35 among wide receivers.

Opportunity is theoretically knocking (re-knocking?) for Raymond this year, with the departure of Josh Reynolds. He is not purely a slot receiver (121 snaps lined up outside last year), and Jared Goff has lauded the trust between the two as well as Raymond's importance to the offense.

Raymond won't make all the splashy plays some others in the Detroit offense will. But his importance should not be overlooked.