NFL insiders completely ignore Lions defensive tackles Alim McNeill and DJ Reader

Not being ranked highly is one thing, but ESPN's polling of people who supposedly know things completely ignored the Lions' DT duo.

Look in certain places, and you will find a lot of praise for Detroit Lions' defensive tackle Alim McNeill as he looks to build on last season's breakthrough. Look in those same places, and others, and you'll find similar praise for the addition of DJ Reader next to McNeill on Detroit's interior defensive line. There's the caveat of Reader's health, as he works his way back from a torn quad late last season, but the broader point still stands.

The Lions have the makings of a top-notch defensive tackle duo.

ESPN, as usual this time of the year, is rolling out its positional rankings based on a survey of NFL executives, coaches and scouts. Second on the docket, after running backs on Monday, was defensive tackles on Tuesday (subscription required).

It's a top-10 ranking, followed by a section of honorable mentions and a final section of "others receiving votes." There are 22 names mentioned.

McNeill and Reader are not among them.

NFL "insiders" completely ignore Lions' defensive tackle duo

It's safe to say Reader has had an under the radar career. Pro Football Focus' grades reveal his good work as a run defender and a pass rusher over eight seasons. But he has zero career Pro Bowl selections, though he did receive votes (not in the top-10) in this ESPN survey in each of the two years before this one.

It's also safe to say McNeill is not fully on the national radar just yet. That could change dramatically this year, with another step after last year's breakthrough very possible. He was PFF's eighth-highest graded defensive tackle last season, and he was top-five before a knee injury in Week 13 that cost him the next four games.

So it's not shocking that PFF had both McNeill and Reader top-15 in their ranking of the league's defensive tackles going into this season. The supposed authorities ESPN collected votes from when making their defensive tackle rankings don't come close to agreeing with that. At least in McNeill's case, that sentiment could change a lot come a year from now, for whatever it'll be worth.

Next. 6 Detroit Lions who could be first-time Pro Bowlers in 2024. 6 Detroit Lions who could be first-time Pro Bowlers in 2024. dark