About a week ago, a friend brought up an interesting question, who is the best Detroit Lions' draft pick since Barry Sanders in 1989? I decided to delve into it a little deeper and attempt to answer the question myself. I started by looking at every draft pick since Barry Sanders that the Lions have made. I skimmed through and made a preliminary list of the players who would make the initial list. Then I determined the criteria to establish a pick's value. I used the following:
- Contributions to the Lions
- Contributions to other NFL teams
- Relative value in regards to spot selected
- Other players available within ten picks at the player's position (The Charles Rogers exclusionary rule)
- I mostly left out a player’s off the field issues (unless it suited me)
My initial list consisted of 24 players...
|1992||Robert Porcher||1||26||South Carolina St||DE|
|1992||Jason Hanson||2||56||Washington St||K|
|1995||David Sloan||3||70||New Mexico||TE|
|1995||Steven Boyd||5||141||Boston College||LB|
|2002||Andre Goodman||3||68||South Carolina||CB|
|2007||Calvin Johnson||1||2||Georgia Tech||WR|
|2009||Brandon Pettigrew||2||20||Oklahoma State||TE|
|2009||Louis Delmas||2||33||Western Michigan||S|
Among the first to be cut were Johnnie Morton, Jared DeVries, Cory Redding, Matt Stafford, Louis Delmas, Brandon Pettigrew, and Jahvid Best. In the cases of DeVries, Pettigrew, and Best, it was a case of injuries/lack of playing time. Stafford, Delmas, Pettigrew and Best have the ability to be something special, but they are fairly young. DeVries was marginal at best to get this far anyways, and his recent injury history was the final nail in his coffin.
Redding is interesting because of his inconsistency. He was a best for a few years after he moved to DT, but seems to be a contract year fluke based on his performance since 2006.
Morton’s exclusion is two-fold: His MMA career, and the fact that Isaac Bruce went 12 picks later.
The next round of cuts was the elimination of the guys that were solid/unspectacular contributors or sentimental favorites that are probably remembered more fondly than they should be.
|Player||Reasons for exclusion|
|Rodney Peete||Never that good. Facilitated Andre Ware pick. Annoying Wife.|
|Robert Porcher||Within 13 picks were Levon Kirkland and Darren Woodson.|
|David Sloan||Only had one dominant season.|
|Stephen Boyd||Injuries cut his career short. Very tough to eliminate.|
|Charlie Batch||Brian Griese was selected 31 picks later. Never made Pro Bowl.|
|Domonic Raiola||No Pro Bowls. Flipped off fans in 2008.|
|Cliff Avril|| |
Good, not great. Situational pass-rusher at best.
That leaves my top ten. The order is fairly interchangeable and cases could be made for the inclusion of many others over the last few I included. With my bets sufficiently hedged, my top ten…
10) Andre Goodman. I mostly forgot about his time as a Lion until this project. He has become one of the best corners in the NFL since his departure following the 2005 season. This is largely due to him being a 3rd rounder, and the huge hole the Lions have had in the secondary for years.
9) Ray Crockett. The guy was a beast. He won two Super Bowl rings. Very underrated, having never been to the Pro Bowl. He was a 4th round pick in the same draft as Barry.
8) Roy Williams. Ultra-talented. Having a great year with Dallas. His trade brought Brandon Pettigrew. He is this low because he seemed to give up at times, and for that stupid first down signal he made in games the Lions were losing by 28 points.
7) Ndamukong Suh. Can easily be number one on this list in the future. I am tempering my expectations by starting him here, but he is clearly one of the best young players in the NFL already. The alternative to Suh was trading for Haynesworth, so bonus points.
6) Herman Moore. Just look over the 1991 NFL Draft. Wow it could have been bad. Herman Moore owns nearly every Lion receiving record (until Megatron breaks them all anyway). Not bad for a guy drafted after Stanley Richard.
5) Shaun Rogers. I know, I know. But Rogers was the only bright spot on the defense for a long time. His dominance can never be measured because he has played for Detroit and Cleveland. As a late second round pick, many teams have probably kicked themselves over whiffing on Big Baby.
4) Cory Schlesinger. A fullback? Yep. How many 6th rounders solidify a position on a team for 12 years, earning All-Pro, All-Madden, and Pro Bowl honors? Exactly.
3) Calvin Johnson. Megatron is simply the most physically gifted player I have ever seen. He’s tall, thick, fast, quick, has great hands, hasn’t gotten into trouble. You really can’t name a weakness in his game.
2) Jeff Backus. Here’s my controversial pick. For all the grief he gets, he has been an above average LT for almost a decade, and has played well enough to allow Detroit to take guys like Suh and CJ. If he was a top 5 pick, he wouldn’t be here, but at number 18 overall. I could easily see him off this list in 3 years however.
1) Jason Hanson. Ladies and Gentlemen, your Detroit Lions. A kicker has been the best draft choice in 22 years. But look at the facts. Second round pick in 1992. Longest tenured Lion. Still a weapon in 2010. One of the greatest kickers in NFL history. I easily see Suh and CJ ahead of him soon, and Best and Stafford wouldn’t shock me.
Thoughts? Blatant omissions? Wanna know where I get the crack I have been smoking? Feel free to comment.