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

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions. Mandatory Credit: Tom Pidgeon /Allsport /

Historically, the Lions have certainly had some excellent players in the trenches. While no former first-round pick like this would classify as Pro Football Hall of Fame caliber for the Lions, the closest thing Detroit has to this would be former All-Pro defensive tackle Alex Karras. Detroit used its No. 10 overall pick to draft the defensive lineman out of Iowa in the 1958 NFL Draft.

Karras would play his entire 12-year NFL career over 13 seasons with the Lions. He was suspended by the NFL during the 1963 NFL season along with Green Bay Packers star running back Paul Hornung for gambling. Karras would return and play seven more years of consistent ball for the Lions after that mid-career suspension.

Overall, Karras would make four Pro Bowls, four All-Pro first-teams and three All-Pro second teams before hanging up the spikes after the 1970 NFL season. Karras would have a lucrative acting career post-football. He played Mongo in the comedic classic Blazing Saddles in 1974. Karras would also play Webster‘s adoptive father George Papadapolis for six seasons from 1983 to 1989 on ABC.

Though Canton enshrinement evaded Karras, he was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame during his time with the Iowa Hawkeyes. Karras will likely remain in the Hall of Very Good, but remains one of the very best first-round picks the Lions have made in franchise history.