The 6-foot-2, 320-pound defensive tackle from North Carolina State had 10 sacks in three seasons and earned second-team Associated Press All-America and first-team All-ACC honors during the 2019 season.
“Watching him on film, he seems like a kind of shorter, wider guy, so you’re automatically thinking, ‘OK, he’s your typical two-down anchor nose tackle,'” Lions GM Brad Holmes said on the second day of the NFL draft on April 30.
“But then you keep watching him and it’s like, ‘Wait, hold up. This dude’s got some quickness that you don’t usually see from a guy this big and this powerful,’ so he was really fun.”
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In the Lions’ special virtual session Tuesday night with season-ticket holders, assistant GM Ray Agnew called McNeill a “bad man,” who despite his 320-pound frame is a better pass-rusher than most people expect.
Agnew said McNeill’s primary function will be taking on double teams, allowing Detroit’s middle linebacker to run free and make plays.
McNeill, the first of seven 2021 draft picks to sign a contract, will participate in the team’s rookie mini-camp, which will kick off on Friday.
First-round pick Penei Sewell will miss camp after testing positive for COVID-19.