Detroit Lions: 15 greatest draft-day steals of all-time
By John Buhler
Stephen Boyd would be a fifth-round pick by the Lions in the 1995 NFL Draft. He was the No. 141 pick out of Boston College, where he represented his alma at the East-West Shrine Game and the former Hula Bowl in 1994.
As a middle linebacker coming to the Lions in the mid-1990s, Boyd would have to bide his time as a rotational player at best his first few years in the league. That’s because he had to back up Lions great Chris Spielman in the middle of the Detroit defense.
But once Spielman left for the Buffalo Bills after Boyd’s rookie season, it was his time to shine beginning in 1997. From 1997 to 2000, the Lions could count on Boyd to man the middle of the Detroit linebacking corps every Sunday. He made 57 of his career 66 NFL starts during that span.
Boyd’s two best seasons would come at the tail end of his NFL career in 1999 and 2000. In 1999, Boyd made his first career trip to the Pro Bowl, as he had 128 total tackles (84 solo, 44 assists), eight tackles for a loss of yardage, five passes defended, an interception for 18 yards and a forced fumble.
He would back that up with an even better 2000 NFL season for the Lions. In 2000, Boyd had 139 tackles (76 solo, 63 assists), eight passes defended, four tackles for a loss of yardage, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, an interception and half a quarterback sack. He made it on the All-Pro Second-Team that season as well.
Despite being at the peak of his NFL powers, Boyd’s 2001 NFL season would end up being his last. He only played in four games that fall and would retire after seven years in the league due to chronic back pain at age-29.
Overall, Boyd played in 86 games in seven years for the Lions, making 66 starts for Detroit. He finished with 575 career combined tackles (361 solo, 214 assists), 13 for a loss of yardage, 13 passes defended, six forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries for 43 yards and a touchdown and three interceptions for 22 yards.
Though he only played seven years with the team, being a two-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro level player during the heart of his career is good enough to have Boyd cracking this top-15. Given that he did this as not only Spielman’s eventual successor, but as a former fifth-round pick, makes his inclusion all the more worthwhile.