With the NFL Draft and most of free agency done, we have a solid idea of what the Detroit Lions’ 2021 roster will look like.
Additionally, we know who the Lions will take on, as the schedule was released May 12.
The Lions underwent a facelift this offseason, essentially hitting the reset button. New leadership was introduced with the hiring of both a new general manager and head coach in Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell, respectively.
All of this and a trade of the franchise quarterback. It’s safe to say the Lions will look much different than the product that was on the field to end last season.
With that said, it’s time to look at who’s underrated, overrated and who could break out for Detroit in 2021.
Most overrated – DE Trey Flowers
Flowers was compensated handsomely prior to the 2019 season by the previous regime. However, he has yet to live up to the high price tag of his contract, and has made little impact in his time with the Lions.
Flowers has played in just 22 games, starting 20 in two seasons with Detroit. During that time, he has amassed 73 tackles and nine sacks.
There is some optimism that Flowers could still turn it around. However, Flowers isn’t getting any younger, and will have to produce at a much higher level.
If Flowers doesn’t produce, he could be heading to free agency as a cap casualty after the season.
Most underrated – P Jack Fox
This is a bit off-the-wall, I know. However, the importance of good special teams play cannot be overstated.
In Fox, the Lions have an All-Pro-caliber punter who is entering just his second full NFL season.
The problem is that Fox will likely be on the field quite a bit, given the likelihood of the offense’s struggles. Yet, Fox showed last season that he’s an expert at flipping the field. He’ll likely take kick-off duties, as well.
Fox is an incredibly important contributor, but is one that the team likely wishes it needed less from.
Best player – C Frank Ragnow
Ragnow, fresh off a contract extension and fishing trip, is arguably the best draft pick of the Bob Quinn-Matt Patricia regime. Ragnow looks like he could be a mainstay at center for years to come.
The Lions, who need solid play up front to create running lanes, have a bully in Ragnow. Throughout the season, he produced numerous film clips in which he pushed defenders all over the field.
Not only is Ragnow the Lions’ best player, he’s one they can and should build around.
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Key new addition – WR Tyrell Williams
The Lions badly needed wide receiver help after Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay both departed in free agency. Detroit was set to retain just two players on active contracts in Geronimo Allison and Quintez Cephus.
They, however, found that help in the form of Williams, who has experience with new Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn from their time together with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Williams possesses the size to make plays on contested catches, while also having the ability to turn short catches into big gains. With new Detroit quarterback Jared Goff needing all the help he can get, Williams looks like a piece that can ignite the offense.
Could surprise – DT Alim McNeill
McNeill was the second of back-to-back defensive tackles taken by the Lions in the 2021 NFL Draft, and his base expectations are not very high. However, the Lions find themselves in need of depth on the defensive line, and that is exactly what McNeill offers.
The word on McNeill is that he is a solid run-stopper who plays well in gaps. This translates well to a team that struggled against the run last season.
There isn’t much ahead of McNeill, as Danny Shelton was released and two of the other top contributors -- John Penisini and Nick Williams -- are still young. If McNeill has a solid training camp, he could certainly play a significant role for Detroit in his rookie season.
Takes a leap – FS Tracy Walker
Walker showed his potential two seasons ago, making 103 tackles and intercepting a pass while roaming the secondary as a free safety. However, last season saw Walker change roles, and as a result, not put up as great of numbers.
Now, facing a key stage in his career, Walker gets to work with a new defensive coordinator in Aaron Glenn, who played nine years as a safety in the NFL. Should the two click, Walker could break out in 2021.
And, given the potential he’s shown, Walker should turn out alright. He should plug right in at free safety now that Duron Harmon is gone. With a return to his natural position, along with the coaching change, expect Walker to improve significantly.
Prove-it-year player – OT Tyrell Crosby
With the Lions having picked Penei Sewell in the first round of this year's NFL Draft, Crosby instantly enters a position battle. Neither Crosby or Sewell will supplant Taylor Decker at left tackle, meaning that the duo will battle it out at right tackle.
Crosby performed well last season, as he earned the starting right tackle position. However, with the addition of Sewell, the Lions demonstrated that what Crosby showed last season wasn’t enough.
This season is a make-or-break one for Crosby, as the emergence of Sewell could send him to the sideline -- or even traded.