Aug 18, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; A general photo of a Detroit Lions helmet during halftime in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
19. Mel Farr
First round, No. 7 overall, 1967
Mell Farr, Superstar. That’s how those of us too young to really remember the running back from UCLA know him. But before he was a car dealer in Detroit, he was one of the more dynamic rushers in the league.
The 1967 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Farr made two Pro Bowls in his short career. He opted to leave football for the auto business, a trailblazer as an African-American owner. He passed away last summer and was fondly remembered by Lions fans and teammates from his era.
18. Ezekiel Ansah
First round, No. 5 overall, 2013
If we do this list again in a few years, Ziggy Ansah could be well up the list. Now in his third season, the defensive end from BYU has emerged as one of the most fearsome pass rushers in the league.
Considering he’s only been playing football for a handful of years, the Ghana native is doing some truly astonishing things on the field. His physical potential is perennial All Pro, and he’s well on his way.
In the context of his draft class, his fast start is even more impressive. He is the only top ten pick from 2013 who is even an average starter in their third seasons.
17. Larry Warford
Third round, No. 65 overall, 2013
As with Slay and Ansah earlier on the list, they’re not even through three seasons and that makes a final judgment quite premature. And right now Warford is behind his classmates in terms of career arc and ceiling.
Yet he’s the best pick of the threesome because of his draft slot. The guard from Kentucky fell to the third round because of concerns about his weight and lack of agility. He quickly squashed those like he did defenders who got in the way of his snowplow-style run blocking. Injuries have slowed his progress, but he’s proven well worth Martin Mayhew’s risk.
16. Eddie Murray
Seventh round, No. 166 overall, 1980
Scoring a solid contributor for over a decade in the seventh round is something we have not seen in quite some time with the Lions. In fact, Murray might be the last seventh-round pick who could be considered a great success.
The Canadian-born kicker earned second-team All-1980s, playing 12 seasons in Detroit. His rookie season was his best, leading the league with 27 made field goals. He played 12 seasons in Detroit.
It wasn’t all great; only Nick Lowery missed more field goals in the 1980s than Murray and his career 75% rate isn’t even average anymore. But as sheer draft value, the Tulane grad was an absolute gem.
Next: Three Big Lions