ESPN: Lions rank No. 21 in top under-25 talent

The Detroit News
Ameer Abdullah is slated to be the lead back for the Lions this season.

Much like last season, the Lions will be banking on several rookies and second-year players to make key contributions.

But unlike last year, Detroit isn't rated one of the worst NFL teams in terms of young talent.

In ESPN's annual under-25 talent rankings released Monday (pay site), the Lions checked in at No. 21 on the list, climbing up 10 spots from their 2016 ranking.

On offense, Scott Kacsmar writes that while tight end Eric Ebron may never live up to his 10th overall pick status, he has steadily increased his offensive production each season.

He added rookie Kenny Golladay has "a good shot to stand out this year" as a third receiver and running back Ameer Abdullah should be the lead back after his strong start in 2016, but will have to run behind an offensive line that will be without left tackle Taylor Decker for a portion of the season.

Lions ranked No. 11 in Bleacher Report power rankings

On defense, Kacsmar notes defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson "should take on a bigger role" next to Haloti Ngata and rookie Jarrad Davis, who is slated to start in the middle of the defense, "could give the Lions the leadership at linebacker that has been missing since DeAndre Levy's health went haywire."

The Dallas Cowboys ranked No. 1 on the list, followed by the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Denver Broncos were last at No. 32.

According to Kacsmar, the under-25 talent list focuses "on the building blocks teams are putting in place that should help define the next four to eight seasons  maybe longer if the teams are fortunate" and all ages are as of Sept. 7, 2017.