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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10. Golden Tate (2014-18)- WR

Tate arrived as a free agent in 2014 to play a complementary role alongside Calvin Johnson, but found himself becoming the main guy a little earlier than expected. Tate had 90+ catches in all four of his full seasons as a Lion, and 1,000+ yards three times.

His 4,741 receiving yards are good for 7th on the team’s all time receiving list. Extremely popular among fans, ‘Showtime’ made the Pro Bowl with 99 catches and 1,331 yards in 2014, and his controversial trade to the Eagles two years ago felt like the white flag being waved on the 2018 season.

Memorable feat: A balancing act, sideline scamper, and front flip into the end zone in overtime to complete a stunning 2016 road win over the Vikings.

9. Shaun Rogers (2001-07)- DT

Before Ndamukong Suh or ‘Snacks’ Harrison, it was ‘Big Baby’ Rogers clogging up the defensive line in Detroit. At 6-4, 345 pounds, Rogers endeared himself to the city with a shining off-field personality and sneaky athleticism that seemed at odds with his massive frame.

Rogers made back to back Pro Bowls in 2004 and 2005 and was among the league leaders in blocked kicks throughout that time. In 2007, his final year in Detroit, Rogers logged career highs in sacks (7) and fumble recoveries (4).

Memorable feat: A 66-yard ‘big man touchdown’ interception return to put the exclamation point on a blowout win over the Broncos, helping lift the Lions to a shocking 6-2 record at the midway point of 2007.

8. Glover Quin (2013-18)- FS

At first I was disappointed to see Louis Delmas being replaced when Quin supplanted him as the free safety, but it didn’t take too long to see why. Never missing a game in his six seasons in Detroit, Quin was a Pro Bowler in 2014, had a knack for creating turnovers (19 interceptions and seven forced fumbles as a Lion), and was a consummate professional while anchoring the secondary.

Memorable feat: Led the NFL with seven interceptions in 2014, including a red zone steal from Drew Brees to set up the final touchdown of a frantic 24-23 comeback over the Saints.

7/6. Jason Hanson and Matt Prater- K

Though both of Hanson’s Pro Bowl appearances happened before 2000, he continued kicking for another thirteen years, cementing himself as the Lions’ all-time points leader before retiring at the age of 42. Hanson enjoys a quiet legend status in Detroit, and you’ll still find his replica jersey hanging in the team store at Ford Field. How many long-retired kickers have that?

Hanson’s eventual replacement has only been in town for six seasons, but he’s also achieved legendary status, and in a much shorter time. Prater has a bigger leg than Hanson, still hasn’t missed a game-tying/winning field goal attempt as a Lion, and has a much better repertoire of clutch kicks that come to mind.

Prater actually started his career with the Lions in 2006, as an undrafted free agent. He kicked well in the preseason, but never had a real shot at getting the job, since the Lions were more than happy with their 14-year veteran (at the time) in Jason Hanson. There ended up being plenty of room for two of the best kickers in league history, just not at the same time.

Memorable feat: Hanson finished his career sitting fourth on the NFL’s all-time points list, while Prater has the top three longest field goals in Lions history and is second in league history in made field goals over 50 yards (Hanson is just behind in third).