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Detroit Lions Draft Successes Since 2001, No. 3: Jeff Backus

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EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - OCTOBER 17: Jeff Backus #76 of the Detroit Lions against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 17 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jeff Backus
EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - OCTOBER 17: Jeff Backus #76 of the Detroit Lions against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 17 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jeff Backus
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Lions offensive tackle Jeff Backus is one of the most polarizing athletes in Detroit. You seemingly love him or hate him, which is based on quite a bit of inconsistency during his 10-year career.

Recently, quite a few fans have started warming up to Backus, who has elevated his play since Jim Schwartz and company took over the Lions. The coaching staff thought he played at a Pro Bowl level in 2009, and he did quite well again in 2010.

It is absolutely true that Backus has had his fair share of struggles over the years, but he has had a good enough career to land at No. 3 on the list of Lions draft successes since 2001. He was the 18th overall pick in 2001 and, remarkably, has started every single game since then. His streak of consecutive games played/started is up to 160, which is not common for any player nowadays with how often injuries happen. For a left tackle to give a team that much consistency is outstanding.

I have criticized Backus plenty in the past, but he deserves props for playing much better in the past couple years. It doesn't hurt that the rest of the offensive line has improved, especially last season with the addition of Rob Sims at left guard. That did a lot to help out Backus and the rest of the O-line.

There's no telling how many years in the tank Backus has left, but what he has managed to do in his career so far is good enough in my book for him to land at this spot on the list.

Previously: No. 10 Sammie Hill, No. 9 Brandon Pettigrew, No. 8 Louis Delmas/DeAndre Levy, No. 7 Cory Redding, No. 6 Dominic Raiola, No. 5 Shaun Rogers, No. 4 Cliff Avril

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