On this day of rest from training camp, join us for the final 10 players on our countdown of the entire Lions roster. The question is not who will be in these last spots, but which order to rank them (well for eight or nine of them, anyway). This was a fun exercise for our staff and forced us all to really look at the whole roster from top to bottom - we hope you have enjoyed it too.
To review the other 80 spots on our Lions roster rankings, click the links below.
10. K Matt Prater (High: 9, Low: 11)
Last year: 10
Since arriving in Detroit back in 2014, Prater has been a stone cold killer in clutch situations. He has been awarded numerous special teams player of the week and month honors, went to the 2017 Pro Bowl as an alternate, and holds the record for the longest field goal in team history. The arm of a different Matt (who we’ll get to later) has been crucial to the many wild comeback wins of the past four seasons, but so has the long range leg of this one.
Matt Prater: "They don't send me out to attempt field goals, they send me out to make field goals." pic.twitter.com/2B5RNbw0pY— Detroit Lions (@Lions) November 6, 2016
9. OT Taylor Decker (High: 6, Low: 17)
Last year: 6
The greatest testament to the value of Taylor Decker to the Detroit offense was the absolute panic that gripped Pride of Detroit (including the staff) when we heard the phrase “torn labrum” in June of last year. The position was a mess until Brian Mihalik was inserted into the lineup in late October, showing how crucial Decker is to the unit. The former Buckeye has been quality from day one, and our own Jeremy Reisman thinks he could be next in line to rack up postseason honors.
Decker was probably the least replaceable man on the roster outside of No. 9.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) June 6, 2017
8. DE Ezekiel Ansah (High: 3, Low: 12)
Last year: 3
As noted by our Kent Lee Platte, it is tough to think of a double-digit sack season as a step back for Ziggy, “but his play was very disappointing on the year with nearly all of those sacks coming against backups in three games.” There are no other established pass rush threats on the defensive line, so the health and performance of Ansah is critical to the team’s success. Now playing on the franchise tag, Detroit needs to see the ferocity that sent Ziggy to the Pro Bowl after the 2015 season to justify a big contract that would bring him back.
to be clear, Ziggy has to be healthy and more productive from a consistency standpoint as a pass rusher. but doesn't Ansah's 2017 sort of prove how contextual sacks are as a statistic?— Ryan Mathews (@Ryan_POD) February 27, 2018
7. OT Rick Wagner (High: 6, Low: 9)
Last year: 12
Despite some missed time at the end of the season, Wagner was every bit the right tackle fixture Bob Quinn hoped the Lions were acquiring on a long-term deal. The move was more popular with our Pride of Detroit readership than it was in the national media (as per usual). Though he stays out of the spotlight instead of hamming it up for the camera like his linemates, the former Raven absolutely delivered in 2017.
In 7 days of camp that I watched, I saw Wagner give up one rep. He's a boss. https://t.co/EkFdMmlvD2— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) August 7, 2017
6. G T.J. Lang (High: 5, Low: 9)
Last year: 5
Full disclosure: I was lukewarm on the Lang signing in free agency last year and expected his penalties to rise for obvious reasons (and they did), but boy was I wrong about how great an addition he would be to the Lions. The rest of the staff knew what was up, was high on the signing, and sure enough Lang appeared in his first Pro Bowl as an injury replacement last season. While he comes with a hefty price tag, there’s no denying the quality performance turned in by the right guard in all phases of the game.
5. WR Marvin Jones Jr. (High: 4, Low: 6)
Last year: 13
Speaking of free agents who came to Detroit on big (at the time) deals, we have one of 2016’s big acquisitions Marvin Jones at No. 5 on our countdown. Just the other day, our Alex Reno remarked how it was funny to think how Lions fandom — including us — was so worried about Marvin’s ability to get separation. Turns out it does not matter and even if he is covered, he is open. Will this elite deep ball receiver follow up on his first 1000 yard season with another stellar year?
Yeah. We think so, too.
4. WR Golden Tate (High: 3, Low: 5)
Last year: 4
There is really only one thing we need to put here:
“Butt,” we’ll add more: Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are such a great combination with contrasting styles. We all love him for his dedication to the team and consistently amazing production, but it will be very tough to fit the kind of contract he deserves onto the payroll come free agency time. Enjoy the YAC monster while you can, and join us in praying for a Christmas miracle that can keep him in Detroit on a manageable deal.
3. S Glover Quin (High: 3, Low: 4)
Last year: 8
Clearly the most underappreciated player by national media on the roster, Quin manages to play stellar football every week of every year and somehow nobody outside the Detroit media market notices. He is the “quin”-tessential defensive leader who is always in the right place at the right time, making everyone else on the unit better. Between this guy and the next player on our countdown, the secondary offers a serious ball-hawking threat to get possession back at any time for the Lions.
Not sure who the best is, but the most overlooked is undoubtedly Glover Quin. https://t.co/MXb1N1OYlI— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) June 18, 2018
2. CB Darius Slay (High: 2, Low: 2)
Last year: 2
Big Play Slay finally made the Pro Bowl after getting snubbed in 2016 by leading the league in interceptions. While his performances with multiple big plays are nothing new, last season they came against marquee opponents while shutting down top receivers. Our Mike Payton spoke to PFF’s Brett Whitefield about the ample evidence that Detroit has one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks. With his entry into NFL Network’s top 100 players for 2018, it looks like the rest of the football world is starting to realize it as well.
Golden Tate just interrupted an interview with Darius Slay.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) December 17, 2017
1. QB Matthew Stafford (High: 1, Low: 1)
Last year: 1
By virtue of the fact you are reading this article, there is no need to tell you why the top overall pick from the 2009 NFL Draft occupies the first spot on our list. Highly regarded by front offices and players around the league as well as major media analysts, Stafford is the rare commodity many envious teams wish they had: a legitimate starting quarterback. Entering his 10th season as a pro, the Lions’ all-time passing leader has already piled up a ton of stats without the help of a run game; Ryan Mathews found few other quarterbacks who could possibly beat the career totals he ends up with. Even without a Super Bowl title, Mike Payton thinks there is a good chance Stafford still makes the Hall.
If what @danorlovsky7 is true, Stafford has converted on 20 of 24 4th quarter, two-minute drills since 2014.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) May 8, 2018
And of the 4 he failed on:
- 1 was the Calvin Johnson goal-line fumble in Seattle
- 1 was the 10-second runoff game vs. Atlanta
That's insane. https://t.co/gYCyE5pStG