Alim McNeill can be ‘exceptional,’ 1 of 2 rookie starters on Detroit Lions’ 1st depth chart

Detroit Free Press

Two rookies are among the projected starters on the Detroit Lions‘ first depth chart of the summer.

First-round pick Penei Sewell, who has taken every first-team rep at right tackle during training camp, and third-round nose tackle Alim McNeill were listed as starters on the depth chart put together by the Lions’ media relations department ahead of Friday’s preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills.

McNeill has been one of the most pleasant surprises of camp, playing ahead of John Penisini and showing power, speed and strength.

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“He’s better than I thought when we drafted him, to be honest with you,” defensive line coach Todd Wash said Monday. “I think we would all say that. We knew he was a heck of a run defender, he’s stout at the point, but he’s a lot better athlete than he showed on tape, which for us was unbelievable. He’s not just an A gap to A gap player, so if he continues to get better, we got to keep a thumb on him, and I think he can be an exceptional nose guard in this league in time.”

The Lions listed McNeill as a starter in the middle of their 3-4 defensive line, sandwiched between Michael Brockers and Nick Williams. Alex Anzalone and Jamie Collins are the starting inside linebackers, with Romeo Okwara and Trey Flowers at edge linebacker, and Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye, Tracy Walker and Will Harris are starters in the secondary.

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Offensively, D’Andre Swift is listed as the starting running back ahead of Jamaal Williams, and the Lions have two starting tight ends (T.J. Hockenson and Darren Fells) and two starting receivers (Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman).

Rookie draft picks Levi Onwuzurike, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Derrick Barnes and Jermar Johnson are listed as third- or fourth-string.

Here is the Lions’ full two-deep, as listed by the team:

Offense

WR Tyrell Williams, Quintez Cephus

TE T.J. Hockenson, Alize Mack

LT Taylor Decker, Tyrell Crosby

LG Jonah Jackson, Evan Boehm

C Frank Ragnow, Evan Brown

RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Logan Stenberg

RT Penei Sewell, Matt Nelson

TE Darren Fells, Brock Wright

WR Breshad Perriman, Kalif Raymond

QB Jared Goff, Tim Boyle

RB D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams

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Defense

DE Michael Brockers, Da’Shawn Hand

NT Alim McNeill, John Penisini

DE Nick Williams, Jashon Cornell

OLB Trey Flowers, Charles Harris

ILB Alex Anzalone, Shaun Dion Hamilton

ILB Jamie Collins Sr., Jahlani Tavai

OLB Romeo Okwara, Julian Okwara

CB Jeff Okudah, Quinton Dunbar

CB Amani Oruwariye, Mike Ford

S Tracy Walker, C.J. Moore 3

S Will Harris, Dean Marlowe

Special teams

K Randy Bullock, Matthew Wright

H Jack Fox

P Jack Fox

LS Don Muhlbach, Scott Daly

PR Kalif Raymond, Victor Bolden

KR Kalif Raymond, Victor Bolden

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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