The top 20 Detroit Lions of the last 20 years

Detroit Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

A countdown of the best and most influential Detroit Lions’ players in recent history.

Time for another Detroit Lions countdown list! This time I’m taking a look back at the last twenty years of team history to get a top twenty list together of the greatest, most memorable, and most impactful Lions of the past two decades. This era begins right after the departure of Barry Sanders, who was all three of those things a generation ago, and finishes up at the present day.

Two things to keep in mind while reading:

  • I’m only including stats, accolades, and contributions from after the year 2000. Robert Porcher is ranked a little lower than he could be, but only because he was caught between decades. Him and Jason Hanson are really the only ones on here with that issue.
  • The only seasons being tracked are those with the Lions. Time spent with another team doesn’t have any bearing on this list.

Additional criteria:

  • Longevity— there’s no minimum amount of years, but Kyle Vanden Bosch is the only player who played three or less years in Detroit that made the list. Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola were added mainly because they were long term mainstays.
  • Individual Accolades–it’s hard to compare stats across positions, so individual honors and rankings on team record boards for their position factored into my decisions. I know Pro Bowls are a little watered down these days, and the Lions don’t have a ton of All-Pros. Still, those two honors remain as good as any in terms of taking off the Honolulu blue glasses and seeing how they stacked up among their peers comparatively.
  • Impact/Legacy–this is where there’s room for some subjectivity. It’s why Vanden Bosch is on here at all. It’s why I’m certain that Ndamukong Suh should go above Calvin Johnson, why Matt Prater slightly nudges out Jason Hanson, and why I have Matthew Stafford above all of them.

Who are the top 20 Detroit Lions players of the last 20 years?

But first off, a few guys that don’t make it this time around, but could make the next edition with a few more standout seasons as Lions:

  • Kenny Golladay- WR
  • Tracy Walker- FS
  • Don Muhlbach- LS…dude’s been around forever, but I need a 20+ year career and some sort of classic trick play involving him to consider a longsnapper.

Now for the countdown…