Calvin Johnson's career hasn't quite been legendary. The Detroit Lions' lack of success has limited his superstardom. But outside of a title, Johnson's career has everything else: unbelievable highlights, record-smashing statistics and an increasingly rare humble attitude to go along with it. Nationally, Johnson may not go down as an all-time legend, but in Michigan, he will certainly be considered one of the greatest Detroit athletes to ever play the game.
But with his departure looming, who will be the next Lions player to reach epic status? Is he even on the team right now? Let's look at a few candidate.
Ansah was the only player from the Lions to make the Pro Bowl, the AP all-pro second team and be named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-NFC team. With 14.5 sacks to finish his 2015 season, Ansah turned some heads in the league. At only 26 years old and still improving his game, he has an extremely high ceiling. Defensive end may not be as flashy as wide receiver, but Ansah could still develop into one of the best defensive players in football. In fact, he's already making a case to belong in that conversation .
Slay didn't have the stats in 2015 to get the national recognition he deserved, but during a seven or eight week stretch in the middle of the season, he was impenetrable. Slay finished the season as the NFL's second-ranked cornerback according to Pro Football Focus. If he can start tallying some interceptions in the future, Slay could be one of the most feared cornerbacks in the league.
Stafford seems to be perpetually at the "about to take the next step" phase in his career. Entering 2015, expecations for Stafford were sky high. But a 1-7 start had fans talking about life without their former first overall pick. Stafford responded emphatically by throwing 19 touchdowns and just two interceptions in the final eight games of the season. Stafford has had an inconsistent career, but he has shown plenty of flashes of greatness in his seven-year career. He is still only 27 years old, so there's still room for his legacy to trend upward.
The one thing in his way from Legend status is wins. You'll never enter the "elite" conversation without postseason wins. Although wins are a crude measure of a player's talent, Stafford will always remain a tier below consideration until he brings the Lions deep into the playoffs.
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