Biggest draft steals in Detroit Lions history

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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The Detroit Lions went from the second-worst record in the league to NFC runner-ups in a three-season span, due in large part to the work Brad Holmes has done in his three drafts as general manager. Holmes has been refreshingly confident and competent compared to his predecessors as the leader of the Detroit front office.

It goes without saying the Lions have had a lot of misses in the draft over their history, and some have been massive mistakes. But that doesn't mean they haven't often found very good players in the draft. The issue has truly been not finding enough good players in the draft to foster team success for the short and long-term. Which is why what Holmes has done stands out as much as it does, though it would stand out in the draft history of most teams.

The list could be a bit longer, depending on subjective criteria of what constitutes a draft steal or how far back you'd like to go. With a tilt toward the modern draft era, here are the 10 biggest draft steals in Lions' history.

10 biggest draft steals in Detroit Lions history

10 . DB Brian Branch: Second Round (No. 45), 2023

9. TE Sam LaPorta: Second Round (Pick No. 34), 2023

A good dose of recency bias here. But the Lions two 2023 second-round picks looked liked potential steals in the moment, and they both delivered as rookies.

LaPorta set every single-season record for a tight end in franchise history, and he set the NFL record for receptions by a rookie tight end. Branch was the 14th-highest graded cornerback by Pro Football Focus, he was fifth on the team in tackles and he led the team in pass breakups.

LaPorta and Branch are both strong candidates to be higher, and much higher, on a future list of biggest Lions' draft steals. But even just one year in, they both belong on this 2024 list.