Detroit Lions get openly disrespected in PFF linebacker rankings

The Lions' linebackers are better than where Pro Football Focus ranked them.

Over the span of a few seasons, the Detroit Lions have gone from lacking one starter-caliber off the ball linebacker to having multiple. Alex Anzalone has improved progressively. Jack Campbell looks set for a big second-year leap this year, and Derrick Barnes made his own jump last year. Malcolm Rodriguez, who started 15 games and had 87 total tackles as a rookie in 2022, would be an unchecked starter on a lot of other teams.

And let's not forget about special teams star Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who was also excellent when called upon to play defensive snaps last season.

Pro Football Focus is continuing to roll out their position group rankings to help get through the slower time on the NFL calendar. Linebacker units were on the docket this week.

Detroit Lions openly disrespected in PFF linebacker rankings

It's not even that the Lions linebackers should have been top-10 in PFF's rankings for this year. But No. 22 is ridiculous.

Here's what PFF writer Gordon McGuiness wrote in concert with that dismal ranking.

'"The rookie learning curve for linebackers is tough, so Jack Campbell's first-year struggles shouldn’t be much of a cause for concern. It’s just a matter of how quickly he can improve in his second season after earning a 75.8 PFF run-defense grade and a 35.3 coverage grade."

"Slotting in next to Campbell, Alex Anzalone is coming off the highest-graded season of his career (69.8) in his seventh NFL campaign."

Campbell's poor coverage grade as a rookie was surely a significant ding to the Lions' place in the overall ranking, and Barnes' coverage grade was not a lot better (53.2; in the bottom-12 at the position). Anzalone's coverage grade (66.1) was top-35 at the position.

All three had top-45 run defense grades, among 84 qualifying linebackers, led by Campbell's 75.8 (21st).

Deep. Talented. Versatile. A lot of teams would love to have all of that in their linebacker group like the Lions do. If Campbell hits that new level this year, they may have a top-10 unit in these same rankings next year.

5 most underappreciated Detroit Lions heading into the 2024 season. 5 most underappreciated Detroit Lions heading into the 2024 season. dark. Next