Number One – 2010 (Part One)
Selection/Position: Ndamukong Suh / Defensive Tackle
Draft position/School: 2nd overall / Nebraska
Tenure with Lions: 2010 – 2014
Lions statistics: 78 games played, 78 starts, 36.0 sacks, 66 tackles for loss
2010 marked a turning point for the Lions. A full season removed from finishing with the NFL’s first ever 0-16 record in 2008, the Lions had their franchise quarterback in place with a young Matthew Stafford. Now it was time to add more talent, and the Lions did it twice in 2010’s first round.
In Suh, the Lions landed a punishing wrecking ball for their defensive line, one who would become a feared member of the Lions for all of his five years in Detroit, remembered for his impactful play on the field, sometimes bordering on dirty.
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Suh paid immediate dividends for the Lions, registering 10.0 sacks as rookie, and helping the team reach the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since 1999. As his fearsome reputation grew, so did the fines. Suh’s controversial actions and line-crossing play cost him over $200,000 dollars in fines during his time with the Lions. His at times reckless play also yielded two different suspensions while in Detroit for a total of three games, though he would only end up serving two of those games.
After helping the Lions to 11 wins and a wild card appearance following the 2014 season, Suh was lured to the Miami Dolphins with a six-year, $114 million contract. He would play three seasons in South Florida, before helping the Los Angeles Rams reach the Super Bowl this past year. He is an impending unrestricted free agent.
Suh’s legacy in Detroit is divided. One one hand, he was a devastating powerhouse for the Lions, someone for whom offensive coaches had to devise an intensive game plan. On the other, he was a “dirty” player lacking leadership skills, who abandoned a Super Bowl-caliber defense for a big paycheck.
Any way you slice it, Suh will go down as one of the most dominant players in Lions history on the defensive side of the ball. He is the most talented player to be drafted by the Lions in this decade, putting him and his draft mate (next page) at the top of this list. But like many Lions picks here, his tenure in Detroit was too short.