Top 5 breakout candidates for the Detroit Lions in 2023

Heading into a season that's full of expectations and promise, here are five top breakout candidates for the Detroit Lions in 2023.
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Alim McNeill, Detroit Lions

1. DT Alim McNeill

McNeill showed the full extent of what he's capable of against the New York Giants in Week 11 last season. Pro Football Focus credited him with 10 quarterback pressures in that game, which is their site's record for a 320-plus pound player. He also played a key role in the Lions holding Saquon Barkley to 22 rushing yards on 15 carries, and in the general improvement of the Lions' run defense as they won eight of their last 10 games in 2022.

For the season last year, after playing just 37 percent of the Lions' defensive snaps as a rookie, McNeill notably played 782 snaps (69 percent snap share). Now in Year 3, it's time to find consistency and step up his game.

Eyeing a full third-year breakout this year, McNeill changed his offseason routine and worked on his skills as a pass rusher. While he didn't lose a lot of weight, per se, he said he's down to 13 percent body fat and reporters on-site at OTAs noticed the changed in his physique. That has him looking like a 3-technique defensive tackle, rather than be pigeonholed as a nose tackle like he has been in his first two seasons.

The Lions could certainly use a dominant pass-rushing force on the inside, and McNeill seems ready to fill that need.

McNeill only has three career sacks. Having at least twice that total this year alone is definitely within his range of outcomes

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