'Destructive' Lions' defensive duo earns a major PFF offseason accolade

The Detroit Lions bolstered the spot next to Alim McNeill on their interior defensive line, and Pro Football Focus has taken notice.
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The Detroit Lions fortified their defensive line by signing DJ Reader.

Reader will pair with Alim McNeill up front to make the middle of Detroit's line tougher in 2024, and already, that's just what many are predicting to happen when the season begins. Pro Football Focus and Gordon McGuiness ranked the NFL's best duos at every position, and Detroit's interior pairing had them on the list.

"The Lions, after adding Reader to their defensive front this offseason, have a duo that looks like the NFL’s best on paper heading into the 2024 season."

"Reader ranked 10th at the position with a 75.3 PFF run-defense grade last season. He is a better pass-rusher than he’s given credit for, too, with his 79.1 PFF pass-rushing grade ranking 14th at the position."

"McNeill has a strong case as being the most underrated interior defender in the NFL right now. His 86.8 PFF overall grade ranked eighth at the position last season, and he has improved every year."

As PFF alluded to, McNeill had a breakthrough season in 2023 (five sacks, six tackles for loss, etc.), helping Detroit's run defense finish second in the league (88.8 yards per game). Adding Reader to the mix figures to help the Lions be even better against the run this year.

Alim McNeill envisions 'destruction' paired with DJ Reader

McNeill has already been thinking about joining forces with Reader.

"In my head it just looks like destruction to me. There's no other way I can see it. Every time I close my eyes and visualize it, I see destruction, honestly. Because I've been watching DJ. (Reader) since I was younger. It's crazy I can play with him now. I've been watching DJ for a long time now, him being from Greensboro, watched him through Clemson and Houston and everywhere. It's wild, but I see destruction in my head."

It's clear McNeill has been looking forward to pairing with Reader for some time, and now that the duo is together in the trenches, they might be the best at their position in the league. Hopefully for the Lions, they quickly live up to the offseason hyperbole when the season starts.


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