1. Matthew Stafford (2009-Present)
Those of you who have been reading my posts for long enough knew that this was inevitable. It was never going to be anyone besides Matthew Stafford for the number one spot in my mind. Suh and Megatron were probably better players, but Stafford came into an impossible situation (a rookie starter on one of the least talented rosters in league history) and has never flinched for over a decade.
Stafford has faced far more pressure, scrutiny, and blame for disappointments than either Suh or Megatron–that comes with the territory of being a Lions franchise savior from the same high school as Bobby Layne.
He was there right after 0-16 and started from scratch, led the Lions back to the playoffs two years later, dragged the team to the playoffs in 2016, and has engineered so much late game magic since then, it’s hard to remember that he was thought of as the weak link of the Lions ‘big three’ at the start of the last decade.
For all those years, critics suggested that it was Calvin Johnson making Stafford look good. Seeing Stafford play some of his best seasons after Megatron retired, was it really the other way around? Johnson and Suh have more individual accolades and more respect nationally. Around Detroit though, Stafford has easily been the most important Lions player of the past twenty years, which is why he gets the top spot.
Memorable feat: There are very few Lions passing records left that aren’t already owned by Stafford, and any that are still standing will likely be gone in the next few years as well if he can stay on the field. With that said, it’s a toss-up between his 5,000/40 season in 2011 and his eight comeback season in 2016 as the most memorable Stafford feats in my mind.