#7 Interior defensive line – Detroit Lions
When I look at who made my list last year in terms of the defensive interior, the Cowboys on paper seemed to have boosted that group. But Gerald McCoy didn’t even make it to week one due to a ruptured quad,
Dontari Poe fell off dramatically and was cut midway through the season. and Neville Gallimore didn’t even play a third of the snaps, which were mostly out of position, I believe anyway. So them being the 31st-ranked rush defense and their true defensive tackles combining for 1.5 sacks on the year certainly doesn’t count as an improvement in hindsight.
With that being said, I have a tough time imagining the Lions not making a big jump at that position. The bar is set pretty low, as they finished 28th in rushing yards allowed, and Nick Williams accounted for half of the group’s pressure production (10), and he is still there.
However, I believe Detroit drafted themselves a new starting DT duo with Levi Onwuzurike (Washington) and Alim McNeill (NC State). While Levi filled in as the Huskies' nose tackle in 2019 after opting out of last season, he displayed the ability to stand his ground against double teams,
I look at him being best suited as a penetrating three-technique, which he should be allowed to play, thanks to grabbing McNeill a round later, who was an immovable object in the middle of the Wolfpack defense. While new defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn comes from New Orleans, one-gapping front, his influence from Bill Parcells and Vic Fangio could signal more 3-4 base principles.
I see their personnel fitting much better for four-down looks. Yet, even if they do want to get more into those odd fronts, with the addition of Michael Brockers as sort of a prototype four/five technique, that would still allow Onwuzurike to attack more upfield.
McNeill has plenty of experience with two-gapping the center. They still have Da’Shawn's hand as well. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy but has shown serious flashes in a penetrating role.
Notable Mentions: Jacksonville Jaguars (Roy Robertson-Harris, Malcolm Brown and Jay Tufele)