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The Detroit Lions relied heavily on rookie contributors in the trying 2021 season. And the results, while uneven in a 3-13-1 campaign, bode well for the future. The analysts at ESPN definitely like what they saw of the first-year players in Detroit.
ESPN called upon Pro Football Focus and its value-added metric to rank the rookie classes of all 32 teams. Or to let them explain,
“With the help of Pro Football Focus’ Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, we ranked all 32 teams on the value of their rookie class over expectation given where each player was selected in the 2021 NFL draft.”
The Lions class fared quite well, coming in at No. 6 overall. Detroit hit it big with first-round pick Penei Sewell but also later with fourth-rounder Amon-Ra St. Brown and undrafted Jerry Jacobs. All three were among the top 25 overall rookies in the class.
Detroit owned two of the 12 most valuable non-quarterback rookies in the 2021 draft class with first-round offensive tackle Penei Sewell and Day 3 wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Undrafted free agent cornerback Jerry Jacobs also ranked inside the top 25 among that group. Sewell’s success was to be expected, but St. Brown and Jacobs surpassed expectations with flying colors.
The New England Patriots were at the top, with the Minnesota Vikings bringing up the rear.