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Detroit Lions NFL Draft history

Detroit Lions Draft History

The Detroit Lions have grown all too familiar with picking in the top half of the NFL Draft. Fans often find themselves rooting for more losses by Thanksgiving to acquire a higher draft choice. The hope has always been to find that player who is a generational talent to “Restore the Roar” in the Motor City.

Since General Manager Bob Quinn took control in 2016, the Lions have had success with both of his NFL Draft weekends. Quinn has made a couple of things quite clear in his first two drafts. One, the Lions will take a quarterback in every draft class. Quinn has cited the importance of a serviceable backup as well as potential future trade bait at the QB position. Second, Detroit now values the best player available on their board over team needs.

2016 NFL Draft

Two football seasons after the 2016 NFL Draft, let us take a look at who the Lions chose and where they stand with the team moving forward.

Taylor Decker during pre-game warm ups prior to 38-24 win vs. the Cleveland Browns. Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press

(16) 1st Round – OT, Taylor Decker, Ohio State

(46) 2nd Round – DT, A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

(95) 3rd Round – C, Graham Glasgow, Michigan

(111) 4th Round – S, Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah

(151) 5th Round – G, Joe Dahl, Washington State

(169) 5th Round – LB, Antwoine Williams, Georgia Southern

(191) 6th Round – QB, Jake Rudock, Michigan

(202) 6th Round  – DE, Anthony Zettel, Penn State

(210) 6th Round – LS, Jimmy Landes, Baylor

(236) 7th Round –  RB, Dwayne Washington, Washington

Each of the first four selections are impact players heading into the 2018 season. Out of the ten players selected in the 2016 draft, Williams and Landes are the only two not on the current roster. Drafted in the sixth round, Anthony Zettel has proven to be one of the steals of the draft. Meanwhile, Joe Dahl, figures to be in the thick of the competition for a starting spot in the upcoming season.

2017 NFL Draft

In 2017, the Lions had what appeared to be another great draft. It is too early to tell whether the players will continue to perform or have a setback in their second year. However, here are the selections from the 2017 NFL Draft.

Detroit Lions linebackers
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

1st Round (21) – LB, Jarrad Davis, Florida

2nd Round (53) – CB, Teez Tabor, Florida

3rd Round (96) – WR, Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois

4th Round (124) – LB, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee

4th Round (127) – TE, Michael Roberts, Toledo

5th Round (165) – CB, Jamal Agnew, San Diego

6th Round (205) – DT, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Arkansas

6th Round (215) – QB, Brad Kaaya, Miami

7th Round (250) – DE, Pat O’Connor, Eastern Michigan

Top 5 picks in Lions History

5.) Matthew Stafford – 2009 NFL Draft – Round 1

Fifth, Stafford has to be on this list as he is the greatest quarterback in team history. The only thing left to do is win in the playoffs. If he can put together some division titles and playoff wins, or God willing, a Super Bowl victory, he will vault up this list and challenge for the top spot.

4.) Robert Porcher – 1992 NFL Draft – Round 1

Detroit Lions Draft History
Robert Porcher Photo: Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press

Fourth, Porcher spent 12 seasons in the Honolulu Blue. He was a cornerstone leader for the Lions throughout the 90s. He finished his career with 95.5 sacks, the all-time Lions sack leader.  His durability made him one of the most dependable players in Lions history as well. He played in 187 total games, only missing five games throughout his entire career.


3.) Charlie Sanders – 1968 NFL Draft – Round 3

Third, Sanders is a Hall of Fame tight end and is one of the best to play for the Lions. The Lions drafted him in the third round and he spent his whole 10-year career in Detroit. Charlie made seven Pro Bowls and named to the 1970s All-Decade Team by the NFL. When he finally decided to hang it up, he brought in 336 catches, 4,817 yards, and 31 touchdowns.

2.) Joe Schmidt – 1953 NFL Draft – Round 7

Second, Schmidt is not a household name among casual fans, however; he has not been lost in Detroit Lions history. The Lions selected him in the seventh round out of Pittsburgh in 1953. Also, Joe Schmidt went on to coach the Lions, although he was a much better player than coach. Most notably, he helped Detroit to two NFL Championships in 1953 and 1957. In 1960, Schmidt was the unanimous NFL MVP. The Sporting News ranked Schmidt at number 65 in their 1999 list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

1.) Barry Sanders – 1989 NFL Draft – Round 1

Finally, was there any doubt as to who would hold this top spot? Barry Sanders is arguably the greatest running back in the history of the NFL. Barry played for ten seasons and made the Pro Bowl in every single season. He sits as the third leading rusher in NFL history with 15,269 yards in only 10 seasons (1,527 yards per season average). Meanwhile, Emmitt Smith – first place – had 18,355 yards over 14 seasons (1,311 yards per season). In second place, Walter Payton played 13 seasons and had 16,726 yards (1,287 yards per season). If Barry had not retired while still in his prime and continued on his pace, he would be the unequivocal all-time rushing leader. Even with only 3 more seasons played, Barry would have added 4,581 yards to his total, putting him at 19,850 yards. An entire article could be dedicated to Barry Sanders. One thing is for sure, he brought fans to their feet like no one before or since. Thanks for the memories Barry.

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