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Evaluating Detroit Lions' 2021 PFF Grades

Here is a look at the Detroit Lions' 2021 highest-and-lowest-graded players, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Detroit Lions' 2021 NFL season is all wrapped up. 

In the first year under general manager Brad Holmes’ guidance, there were plenty of players who surprised and many who also disappointed. 

Pro Football Focus evaluates players all season long, and grades each and every snap for the duration of the NFL season. 

Although it is not an exact science, PFF's grades provide a solid gauge on how well or how poorly players performed this year. 

Let’s take a look at some of the best-and-worst-graded Lions players, according to PFF.

*Minimum 100 snaps

Top-graded Detroit Lions

1. Frank Ragnow -- 86.7

2. Amon-Ra St. Brown -- 79.9

3. Penei Sewell -- 77.4

4. Craig Reynolds -- 76.5

5. Taylor Decker -- 75.3

6. Romeo Okwara -- 73.3

7. Quintez Cephus -- 71.7

8. Jonah Jackson --70.0

9. Jamaal Williams -- 69.8

10. Charles Harris -- 68.7


What stands out the most is the lack of defensive players. Only two made the top-10 list, and Okwara was limited to just four games. On top of that, only a few of these names actually played a majority of the season. So, needless to say, some of the Lions’ best players barely even saw the field. 

The Lions were already lacking in talent to start the season, and losing some of their top players definitely didn’t help. If there was a silver lining, the injuries did provide some younger players an opportunity to gain experience.

For example, it was great to see Sewell and St. Brown excel in their rookie seasons. 

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Lowest-graded Detroit Lions

1. Derrick Barnes -- 29.9

2. Alex Anzalone -- 34.1

3. Michael Brockers -- 40.5

4. Will Harris -- 41.0

5. Levi Onwuzurike -- 43.1

6. Trinity Benson -- 46.9

7. AJ Parker -- 48.3

8. Ryan McCollum -- 49.5

9. Nick Williams -- 50.3

10. Matt Nelson -- 50.8


On the opposite end of the spectrum, the lowest-graded list highlighted many defenders and only a few offensive players. Unfortunately, many of these names saw plenty of playing time. These weren’t necessarily reserves. 

Despite Barnes being a fan favorite of many and the calling of more snaps for the fourth-round rookie, he struggled in pass-defense situations. 

Barnes was actually the second-worst graded off-ball linebacker in the entire NFL for coverage. Only former Lions LB Jahlani Tavai had a worse coverage grade, although Tavai also only played 20 pass-coverage snaps.

It sure looks like Holmes swung and missed on the trade for Benson. The Lions didn’t give up all that much, but Benson’s impact was minimal.

Also, Parker, a slot corner for Detroit this past season, started off the season well, but declined precipitously as the season went on. With his subpar play late in the season, the Lions shouldn’t rule out the possibility of upgrading the position.