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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20. Louis Delmas (2009-13)- FS

Picked one round after Matthew Stafford in the 2009 draft, the free safety immediately was a dreadlocked ball of energy on the field. Was most notable for his joyous playing style, heat seeking attempts at big hits, and being the clear vocal leader of the defense during his time in Detroit.

Memorable feat: As a rookie, Delmas pulled off the rare trifecta of scoring a touchdown from an interception return, a fumble recovery touchdown, and a safety.

19. Marvin Jones Jr. (2016-Present)-WR

Arriving in Detroit just after Calvin Johnson retired, Jones has found himself constantly overshadowed by the other receivers while in Detroit–first by Megatron’s legacy, then by Golden Tate’s production and brashness, and now by the star emergence of Kenny Golladay. Jones has quietly made a name for himself at Ford Field with routine acrobatic catches, and his 27 receiving touchdowns as a Lion place him 10th on the franchise’s all-time list.

Memorable feat: Led the NFL with 18.0 yards per catch during the 2017 season, when he finished with 1,101 receiving yards. That included his incredible 58-yard ‘Angels in the Outfield’ catch, which I ranked as the #9 Lions play of the decade.

18. Roy Williams (2004-08)- WR

In his four and a half years as a Lion, Williams probably didn’t fully live up to his potential. Still, his enormous talent was hard to miss, and sandwiched between draft busts Charles Rogers and Mike Williams in consecutive years, Williams looks like a major success story by comparison.

He jumped ship before Stafford arrived and Calvin Johnson came into his own, probably missing out on a few more big seasons, but Williams still reached the top ten on the franchise all-time receiving yardage and touchdowns lists.

Memorable feat: With 1,310 yards and 16 yards per catch, Williams’s 2006 Pro Bowl season remains one of the best by a Lions receiver other than Calvin since the start of the new millennium.

17. DeAndre Levy (2009-16)- LB

Levy is the only linebacker to make this list, beginning his career alongside Delmas and Stafford in ’09 and turning in a handful of productive seasons before injuries finally added up on the back end of his tenure.

Levy was perpetually underrated, and while he made a great case for Pro Bowl accolades in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons, he wasn’t able to add that honor to his resume at any point. However, he was named second team All-Pro after the 2014 season, anchoring the league’s number two ranked defense.

Memorable feat: Led the NFL in solo tackles during the 2014 season, playing a major role on the best Lions defense in decades.

16. Kyle Vanden Bosch (2010-12)- DE

From his Stone Cold Steve Austin shaved head/goatee combo, to his blood red contact lenses, or his relentless practice field habits, the raw numbers just don’t tell the whole story of KVB’s importance to restoring the Lions defense in the early 2010s.

Coinciding exactly with the start of Ndamukong Suh’s early years, Vanden Bosch’s work ethic and endless motor set a perfect example of professionalism for Suh. While only in Detroit for three years, KVB helped transform the defensive line into a strong point for the team for several years.

Memorable feat: Eleven tackles (again, not a huge number, but quite a few for a defensive end) and an improbable series of gritty goal line stands on the road at Soldier Field in his first game with the team.