WR Calvin Johnson, No. 2 overall–2007
One of the best wide receivers in NFL history, Johnson was a 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee (first ballot). He nearly set the Lions’ franchise rookie receiving record (756 yards), before topping 1,100 yards in five of the next six seasons. In 2012 he broke Jerry Rice’s record for most receiving yards in a single season, finishing with 1,964.
Johnson also became the fastest player in league history to reach 10,000 receiving yards, doing so in 115 games. He’s the Lions’ all-time record holder in receiving yards and touchdowns. After nine seasons in Detroit, Johnson retired early, surprisingly and fairly suddenly after the 2015 season.
LB Ernie Sims, No. 9 overall–2006
Sims came out of the gate flying upon being drafted ninth overall by the Lions in 2016, with 125 (second among rookies), 134 and 116 tackles in his first three seasons respectively. The 2009 campaign was not nearly as good, and he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. He wound up playing eight seasons in the NFL, for four teams.