Who is the Detroit Lions most underappreciated player?

SideLion Report

The Detroit Lions could have multiple good candidates, but who does one analyst think is their most underrappreciated player?

Coming off a 3-13-1 season but with hopes for better results this year, the Detroit Lions truly have multiple players who could be considered “underappreciated.” But that’s surely how head coach Dan Campbell likes it, since that will inspire worth ethic and a defiant attitude across the roster.

NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund took on determining the most underrappreciated players in the league. Using an analytics model to determine on-field contribution, with consideration for contract and salary mixed in, she tabbbed the most underappreciated player on each team.

The NFC edition of Frelund’s list came out Thursday. So who made the cut for the Lions?

Detroit Lions: OG Jonah Jackson, Age: 25

APY: $1.19 million (rookie contract); 72nd among guards

The left guard earned a run-blocking grade of 76.4 from PFF last season (ranking 11th of 76 guards). The grade awarded to the Lions’ O-line as a whole last season marked them as average (71.4, ranked 16th). Computer vision shows that Jackson’s run blocking improved significantly over the course of the season while his pass blocking was drastically better when the Lions were able to use more balanced play-calling (not just the pass).

Jonah Jackson is an underappreciated key cog in Lions’ offensive line

A third-round pick out of Ohio State by the Lions’ previous regime in 2020, Jackson started all 16 games as a rookie. He started all 16 games he played last season, but made notable progress. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate, and ultimately got to play in the game as an injury replacement for then-Washington guard Brandon Scherff. He was the first homegrown Lions’ guard to make the Pro Bowl in the Super Bowl era.

Jackson missed Week 15 last season with a back injury, otherwise he likely would have played every offensive snap for the Lions.

On an offensive line that has three first-round picks, and playing between two of them (Taylor Decker and Frank Ragnow), Jackson may never get all the accolades he deserves. But there’s no doubt about his value to the unit, and even on a list of underappreciated players he’s gotten some acknowledgement on a broader scale now.

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