2021 Detroit Lions rookies have prepared for a landmark jump in their second year

As CEO of his first year at the Detroit Lions, Brad Holmes scored a home run in the 2021 NFL Draft, assembling pieces for his first-class rookie. They have noticed immediate returns from a few players who are already considered part of the core of the team as they continue to rebuild, while others still have a lot to prove.

Today’s question of the day is …

Which rookie Lions 2021 is ready for a breakthrough year in 2022?

Let’s take a look at our options:

  • OT Penei Sewell: He had a fantastic year replacing Taylor Decker with a left tackle and then back to the right side when Decker returned.
  • DT Levi Onwuzurike: To a large extent considered to be the group’s biggest disappointment, but in particular he played through a serious injury that probably limited his 1st year development. He should also benefit from changing the defense of Lviv to a more offensive scheme.
  • DT Alim McNeill: He has played all 17 games. A total of 39 incursions, two sacks and three slips for a loss. He was probably the best internal defender of Lions, but still has a lot more to prove.
  • CB Ifeatu Melifonwu: He missed much of the season with a quad injury but exceeded expectations when he was healthy. It may start in 2022 or be one of the main reserves.
  • WR Amon-Ra St. Brown: Significantly exceeded expectations in Year 1 with 90 receptions on 119 targets, 912 yards on pickup, and a total of six touchdowns. It should still be the starting receiver of Lions slots.
  • LB Derrick Barnes: He showed a lot of promise in the pre-season, but overall he had problems with the rest of the Lions defense. He will likely have ample opportunities to see the pitch in his sophomore year and should benefit from a year’s experience as well as an improved defensive line ahead of him.
  • RB Jermar Jefferson: Haven’t seen much action last year and that could be for Year 2 as well, unless the Lions get a few injuries in the RB position.
  • CB Jerry Jacobs: He was one of the best defensive defenders of the Lions as a free agent who wasn’t torn off and should stick to the team and fight for repetitions in 2022.
  • TE Brock Wright: 12 receptions, 117 yards and two touchdowns in 2021. May remain as TE2 or TE3.
  • K Riley Patterson: I mean, we have to give him a fair shot, right? He stepped in as an undrawn kicker after being cut by the Patriots and Vikings and knocked out 13 of the 14 shots on goal.
  • OL Tommy Kraemer: A marginal player who entered left and right guards due to an injury. 6 games have been played.
  • CB Mark Gilbert: He’s got some work if he wants to join the team and see playtime. He became an active member of the roster after his Steeler exemptions were taken from him in October.

My answer: Levi Onwuzurike.

The Lions didn’t do much to add to their off-season inner defenses and I think that’s because they still really like what they have at McNeill and Onwuzurike.

As we mentioned earlier, Onwuzurike played last year with a back injury, which is probably a big reason why he did not perform as well as expected. As Lions shifted to a more offensive style of passing, he could gain the most because it suits his playstyle. I expect him to make the biggest jump on this sophomore list, but I would also highlight Melifonwu and Derrick Barnes while I expect continued success from Sewell and St. Brown.

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