Detroit Lions: 15 greatest draft-day steals of all-time

Darius Slay, Detroit Lions. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Darius Slay, Detroit Lions. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Doug English, Detroit Lions
Doug English, Detroit Lions. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images) /

Doug English was easily one of the better draft picks made by the Lions in the 1970s. English was a collegiate standout for the Texas Longhorns. The Dallas native helped Texas win three Southwest Conference titles during his time in Austin. English would be elected into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011 for his dominance at Texas.

Even though he was one of the best players in Texas football history, English was not taken in the first round of the 1975 NFL Draft. He would fall to the Lions at No. 38 in the second round, where he would play all 10 seasons of his NFL career over an 11-year span.

English would be a four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle from the Lions in the late 1970s to early 1980s. He made First-Team All-Pro for the only time in his NFL career in 1982 when he had 4.5 quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery in nine games. 1982 would also be the first season where sacks were officially recorded in the NFL.

English’s 1983 NFL season was outstanding. He had 13.0 quarterback sacks and two safeties in 15 games for the Lions, making his fourth and final trip to the Pro Bowl in the process. English retired after the 1985 NFL season with 59 unofficial sacks, 25 official due to a career-threatening neck injury.

It should be noted that English paired with another pass-rushing phenom during his peak in Al “Bubba” Baker to form “Silver Rush”. They fed off each other to form one of the most formidable defensive line tandems in NFL history.

However, it was not a long-lasting one. Baker only played with the Lions for five seasons. English sat out the 1980 NFL season due to injuries, so they only played together on the field for four seasons. Baker was gone after the 1982 season to play for the then-St. Louis Cardinals. English was out of the league three years later after the 1985 campaign.

Overall, English would make three total All-Pro teams in his Lions career. Besides being a pass-rushing force for well over a decade and an important part of “Silver Rush”, English’s ability to tackle ball carriers in the end zone for safeties is still impressive over 30 years since he last played for the Lions.

English’s two safeties back in 1983 is one of only 17 two-safety campaigns in NFL history. His four career safeties have him tied for first all-time in that department with Pro Football Hall of Fame player Ted Hendricks and future Pro Football Hall of Fame player Jared Allen. Simply put, English could get after the quarterback. Not bad for the No. 38 overall pick back in 1975.