Ranking the 5 best Lions draft classes of the past 30 years

Mandatory Credit: Tom Pidgeon/Allsport
Mandatory Credit: Tom Pidgeon/Allsport /
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Slay with the stop
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images /

1. 2013 NFL Draft

Round Selections: (Overall Pick)

1st. Ziggy Ansah: DE (5)

2nd. Darius Slay: DB (36)

3rd. Larry Warford: G (65)

4th. Devin Taylor: DE (132)

5th. Sam Martin: P (165)

6th. Corey Fuller: WR (171)

6th. Theo Riddick: RB (199)

7th. Michael Williams: TE (211)

7th. Brandon Hepburn: LB (245)

First place? For as much criticism as Martin Mayhew gets, he really nailed it in 2013. At the time, some thought it was a slight reach to be using the 5th overall pick on an extremely raw Ezekiel Ansah, but it turned out to be arguably the best pick of Mayhew’s tenure as GM. Ansah stands out from an unimpressive first round and has blossomed in Detroit. The reason I believe this was the best draft of the past thirty years for the Lions is because of the volume of hits all the way through.

Darius Slay was an unknown that’s turned into the best corner of the entire 2013 class, arguably. Larry Warford was phenomenal as a rookie, plus filled a huge need along a then-bare Lions offensive line as just a third-round pick. Warford cashed in with the Saints during free agency. Devin Taylor has been serviceable, at times starting for the Lions opposite Ansah at defensive end. Punter Sam Martin was not a popular pick, yet he’s turned into a top-3 player at his position.

Theo Riddick is quite possibly the best receiving back in the league, something increasingly important in today’s game. Ansah, Slay, Martin and Riddick all appear to be part of Detroit’s long-term plans. That’s a good thing since they are also some of the best players on the team. A few more drafts like this and Mayhew would still be here in all likelihood.

Next: Detroit Lions: 15 best first-round draft picks of all-time

It may be slightly premature to put 2013 at number one, but in terms of the number of hits consistently throughout the draft, I believe it stands alone.

-Stats and information provided by Pro Football Reference and NFL.com.