Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) during player introductions prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking the Detroit Lions: The Top 5


We’ve reached the end of ranking the top 50 players on the Detroit Lions roster. You can check out all the previous rankings here:  No. 50 through 26, No. 25 through No. 16, and No. 15 through No. 6.

Today we focus on the top five guys. I recently wrote about whether or not the Lions can keep their top three players for the long haul, and it will be interesting to see if anything gets done with Ndamukong Suh‘s contract situation over the next few weeks.

As a quick reminder, my goal is to look over the team and rank the roster from top to bottom. Talent is obviously a huge part in these rankings, but so is positional value and potential. Other aspects like character and injury also play a role.

This is not a roster prediction. There are several players on this top 50 ranking that did not make my initial 53-man roster prediction. Obviously, this is subjective. It’s based around how I rank these players, not necessarily how they feel about them inside Allen Park.

5. Larry Warford

In just one season the young offensive lineman has already entrenched himself as one of the best players on the Lions’ roster and one of the best interior lineman in the NFL. The former third round pick finished the season starting all 16 games. He didn’t allow a single sack and only allowed 15 quarterback pressure per Pro Football Focus. Warford should take another step forward in his second year under Jeremiah Washburn.

4. Stephen Tulloch,

According to Pro Football Focus, Tulloch had his best season of his career in 2013. That’s evident as you watch Tulloch’s tape from last season. He often has sticky coverage in both man-to-man and zone coverages and he takes solid angles when attacking the ball carrier.  He may be one of the most unheralded guys on the entire team because of his quite yet fierce attitude. He’s been a perfect fit for the Lions and the city of Detroit since he joined the team.

3. Ndamukong Suh, DT

We’ve hit the big three. Suh starts the group out here. Love him or hate him, he’s one of the most dominant defensive players in the entire NFL. He’s the type of guy that every team hates to play, but would jump at the chance to play next to him. Sadly for him, his on the field triumphs have often been overshadowed by off the field noise.

The big news, or lack there of, surrounds his contract extension. He definitely has all of the leverage, and it will be interesting to see whether or not he’s able to work something out with the Lions in the coming weeks. If he doesn’t get something done before training camp, it could very well be his last season in a Lions uniform.

2. Matthew Stafford, QB

Quarterback trumps all, except when Megatron is on your team. Stafford has yet to become the truly elite quarterback his talent could allow him to be, but he’s better than some make him out to be. In the NFL you need a quarterback to have any shot, and the Lions have one in Stafford. You can argue he’s overpaid, but he’s getting paid market value, maybe even a little less. He’s currently the 9th highest paid quarterback in terms of average per year. His status will only go further down as guys like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton begin to sign their new deals.

Matthew Stafford can be a top 10 quarterback in this league. It’s just a question of whether or not he can take all of his positive traits and do them consistently.

1. Calvin Johnson, WR

The man they call Megatron will hold this spot until he proves unworthy. The best receiver in the NFL might finally get some help in 2014. The Lions have surrounded Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson with roles players like Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Eric Ebron, and Golden Tate to hopefully get the team over the hump. Because even as good as Johnson is, he can’t do everything on his own. Health will always be a key, but I fully expect Johnson to continue to dominate over next season.

Tags: Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Featured Larry Warford Matthew Stafford Ndamukong Suh Popular Stephen Tulloch