As he eyes a breakout in his third season, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill is slimmed down and ready to consistently dominate.
After fairy non-descript rookie season in 2021, Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill took a step forward last year. He started all 17 games, and played a healthy 69 percent snap share (782 snaps).
In Week 11 last season against the New York Giants, McNeill set a Pro Football Focus single-game record for a player over 320 pounds with 10 quarterback pressures on Daniel Jones. More performances of that ilk would be nice moving forward, and to that end McNeill changed his offseason routine as he prepared for his third NFL season.
Now, as the Lions have started OTAs, the results of McNeill's offseason changes are visible.
On the "Twentyman In The Huddle" podcast with Lions' team reported Tim Twentyman, McNeill made it clear why he wanted to transform his body this offseason.
"This is what the transformation was for, if I’m really being honest with you, is to be able to rush that passer like I want to,” McNeill said. “That’s really what the transformation was for. Just so I could be a better football player for the Lions, be able to do everything I need to do.”"
Lions DT Alim McNeill is slimmed down and ready to have a breakout season
McNeill has not lost weight, per se. He said he intends to play at his previous 325 pounds. But he said he's down to 13 percent body fat, and thus he'll be more muscular and flexible.
Last week at OTAs, via Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn took note of McNeill's physical transformation. And a change in his mental preparation, which has roots in pure experience.
"You’ve seen his body, also, the way he’s transformed himself, as far as his weight as far, as his habits, the way he studies,” Glenn said last week. “So, to me, I like the fact that he was able to play nose and three. I think we’ll continue to do that. He’s serious about football, man. Like this guy is serious about how he is going to go out there. He’s serious about how he wants to be perceived by everybody also"
Reporters on site at OTAs last week also took note of how much slimmer McNeill looks, and a likely move to playing 3-technique rather than nose tackle as he has done in his first two seasons.
In some sense, the Lions still have a need on the interior defensive line that might be nice to see bolstered before the season starts. But McNeill is doing his part to become the pass-rushing force from the 3-technique spot that's very much needed, as he eyes a big, full-on breakout step in his third season.