DT Ndamukong Suh, No. 2 overall–2010
Over his time with the Lions, Suh was an object of occasional controversy due to an aggressive style of play that straddled and at times crossed the line. But he was undeniably producutive right off the bat, with 10 sacks and 66 tackles as he won Defensive Rookie of the Year, earned a Pro Bowl nod and was named First Team All-Pro.
Suh would earn four Pro Bowl selections and three First Team All-Pro nods in five seasons as a Lion. But he clearly couldn’t wait to leave, taking a mega contract from the Miami Dolphins in 2015 free agency.
Despite an early and not so happy exit, Suh goes down as a big draft win for the Lions.
QB Matthew Stafford, No. 1 overall–2009
A notable local media member in Detroit liked to call Stafford “Stat Padford”, in reference to the his putting up numbers on losing Lions’ teams.
But Stafford shook of an early career injury-prone label to start every game from Week 1 of the 2011 season through the middle of the 2019 season. He rightly wanted no part of another rebuild in 2021 as his career winds down, and the Lions amicably sent him to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and draft picks.
Stafford is the Lions all-time leader in passing yards, completions and touchdowns. Whatever anyone wants to think of him, he is the best quarterback the Lions have had in the Super Bowl era.