We’ve finally reached the end of our countdown. For the past few weeks we’ve ranked all 90 players on the Detroit Lions roster. While some of those players aren’t even on the list (enjoy retirement, Tony Hills!), the main players are still the same. But before we count down the top 10 players left on the list, let’s recap the bottom 80:
- Players 90-81
- Players 80-71
- Players 70-61
- Players 60-51
- Players 50-41
- Players 40-31
- Players 30-21
- Players 20-11
As a reminder, five members of the Pride of Detroit staff ranked the entire roster from 1 to 90. This list is an average of all five rankings.
10. K Matt Prater (High: 9, Low: 14)
Prater is the first of two special teamers to make the Lions’ top 10 which is... um, not exactly a good sign. That being said, Prater’s reliability has been a load off of the Lions’ back since he fell into their lap back in the middle of the 2014 season. After a below average season that year, Prater has made 53 of 60 attempted field goals in the past two seasons, including 12 of 13 from 50+ yards. His play was good enough to earn a Pro Bowl spot in 2015.
9. RB Ameer Abdullah (High: 8, Low: 10)
No player has more hype around them than Ameer Abdullah right now. His promising start to the 2016 was cut short by a devastating Lisfranc injury. But the young running back appears to be 100 percent now and primed to take over as Detroit’s primary running back.
Abdullah has a lot to prove to justify a place in the top 10, but if the taste he gave us is any indication, he could place a lot higher on this list next year.
8. S Glover Quin (High: 6, Low: 10)
The recent recipient of a two-year, $13 million extension has earned his way into the top 10 of this list. Quin has played at a high level for all four years he’s been in Detroit. Not only that, but he’s been unbelievably reliable throughout that time. He’s started all 64 games with the Lions and didn’t miss a single defensive snap in 2016—the only defensive player in the NFL to do so last year.
Though Quin turned 31 years old this year, the Lions will be glad to have him around for at least three more seasons.
7. P Sam Martin (High: 4, Low: 13)
As someone who inherently hates punters because they represent failure, I am a bit offended Martin is this high. But it’s honestly hard to argue again. Martin is, at worst, the No. 3 punter in the league right now.
6. T Taylor Decker (High: 5, Low: 7)
This list was created well after Decker’s shoulder surgery, and he still nearly made the top five of our list. That just goes to show you the confidence fans and analysts have in Decker’s future.
While the Lions future left tackle only has one season under him, he managed to wildly exceed expectations. When the Lions first drafted Decker, many weren’t sure he’d ever become a left tackle. By the end of his rookie season, Lions fans were convinced he’d be their left tackle for the next decade. To win over a Lions fanbase that quickly is absolutely unheard of.
5. OG T.J. Lang (High: 3, Low: 7)
While Decker has yet to receive the accolades in his NFL career, T.J. Lang has. Lang has long been considered a top guard in this league and finally got the postseason honors last year to prove it, earning his first spot on the Pro Bowl team in 2016.
Though Lang is coming off hip surgery, the Lions are expecting him to play at that Pro Bowl level again this year. Given that they gave him a three-year, $28.5 million contract, Detroit seems pretty confident in their investment.
4. WR Golden Tate (High: 3, Low: 5)
No offensive player outside of the quarterback has been more consistently valuable for the Lions over the past three years. In every season since 2014, Tate has totalled at least 90 catches and at least 800 yards. Additionally, he hasn’t missed a single game since joining the Lions.
Ever since Jim Bob Cooter took over the Lions offense in 2015, Tate has been the centerpiece to Detroit’s passing game. His ability to break tackles and post outrageous YAC numbers has made him Matthew Stafford’s best friend, especially since Calvin Johnson retired.
3. DE Ezekiel Ansah (High: 2, Low: 4)
For someone this high on the list, Ezekiel Ansah sure has a lot to prove in 2017. After having one of the best seasons in the league in 2015, Ansah’s play dramatically dropped off last season. Ansah suffered a high-ankle sprain early in the season, and never fully recovered.
As a result, Ansah comes into 2017 with a lot of questions and no contract extension. He could be in for a big payday in 2018, but he’ll have to prove he’s still worth it to either the Lions or a pending team in free agency.
2. CB Darius Slay (High: 2, Low: 3)
Big Play Slay finally lived up to his moniker in 2016, coming up with a few huge plays at the end of games. Slay has been known as a blanketing cornerback for the past three seasons or so, but the game-changing plays hadn’t been coming.
Though his interception total is still a little low, he showed last year that he can make big plays when it matters. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, he made four huge plays in the final eight defensive snaps. Against the Vikings, he came up with a game-winning interception in front of a national audience.
With a better supporting cast around him, quarterbacks may have to challenge Slay a little more in 2017, which could mean the Lions defense is in for more big plays.
1. QB Matthew Stafford (Unanimous No. 1)
I’m not worried that Matthew Stafford won’t sign an extension with the Lions, but I’m also not completely not-worried. Get it done, Bobby.