The Detroit Lions’ own pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft sits at No. 18, but have they ever had that pick before?
The Detroit Lions have two first-round picks for the second straight year this year, thanks to the Mattew Stafford trade. Their own pick sits at No. 18 overall coming off a 9-8 season, with the other at No. 6 thanks to a rough Super Bowl win follow-up for the Rams.
Of course the Lions haven’t had a first-round pick that’s not in the top half of the round lately, and overall in their draft history there’s a long, long list of top-10 overall picks.
After we did the same with the Lions’ history with the sixth overall pick, let’s take a look at their history (if any) with the 18th overall pick.
When was the last time the Detroit Lions had the 18th overall pick in the draft?
Going through the Lions draft history, they’ve had the 18th pick exactly once. Plenty of picks in the 15-20 range, but No. 18 overall just once.
So when was it? And who they did they select?
In the 2001 NFL Draft, the Lions took Michigan offensive tackle Jeff Backus with the 18th overall pick. He played all 12 of his NFL seasons for the Lions, starting 191 games at left tackle as a real successor to Lomas Brown on the blind side was finally found. He never made a Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team, but the only game he missed in his entire career was in his final season (2012). He was elected to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team in 2001.
Interestingly, Backus is also one of the most recent Lions to be franchise tagged–back in 2006. By Pro Football Reference’s Weighted Career Approximate Value metric, for a current comp on his career, Backus has the same number (61) as New Orleans Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk.
Backus was not a star, and he’s probably not all that memorable to Lions fans beyond the facts he is a University of Michigan alum and a Michigan native. But he was a reliable presence at the most important spot on the offensive line for more than a decade, and that counts for something.
Sometimes simply avoiding a huge mistake with a top draft pick is just fine, especially given the Lions’ checkered history with said picks. Backus was not a mistake, even if he was never one of the best at his position.