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Detroit Lions All-Decade team: Defense and Special Teams

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A look at the Lions’ best defenders and special teamers of the 2010s.

Washington Redskins v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Today we continue our list of the best Detroit Lions players of the past decade. We look at the defensive and special teams players chosen for the list.

You can see the All-Decade Offense Team here.

Defensive/Nose tackle

Ndamukong Suh

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Ndamukong Suh was selected second overall by the Lions in the 2010 NFL draft. He was the team’s first draft selection of this decade, and also the earliest draft selection the team made this decade. Suh was widely regarded as one of the best defensive tackles of all time during his time in Detroit.

Suh played 78 games for the Lions. He totaled 181 combined tackles and 36 sacks for Detroit—putting him at seventh in team history in sack total. In 2015, he signed with the Miami Dolphins, leaving the team in free agency. He currently plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Damon Harrison Sr.

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Damon Harrison was acquired by the Lions via a trade with the New York Giants midway through the 2018 season. The defensive tackle has played 25 games for the Lions, totalling 98 tackles and 5.5 sacks over that time. He made an immediate impact in Detroit, turning around one of the worst run defenses in the league into one of the best.

Second team: Haloti Ngata, Nick Fairley

Outside linebacker/Defensive end

Cliff Avril

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Cliff Avril was selected by the Lions in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft. He played five seasons in Detroit, leaving for the Seattle Seahawks in 2013.

He totaled 168 tackles and 39.5 sacks—the sixth highest total in team history—in 73 games for the Lions. Avril was credited with 11 sacks in 2011, the10th-highest single season total in team history. He retired in 2017 as a Seahawk.

Ezekiel Ansah

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Ezekiel Ansah was selected fifth overall by the Lions in the 2013 NFL draft. The defensive end notched 48 sacks in 80 games as a Lion—placing him fourth in team history. His 14.5 sacks in 2015 were a half-sack short of the franchise record.

Ansah signed with the Seahawks in 2019 and currently plays there.

Second team: Devon Kennard, Trey Flowers

Linebacker

Stephen Tulloch

Baltimore Ravens v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Stephen Tulloch arrived in Detroit after signing with the Lions in free agency following his career with the Tennessee Titans. The linebacker played 67 games over his five years in Detroit. He totaled 485 tackles for the Lions, the sixth highest total in team history. Tulloch was released in 2016 and spent one year with the Eagles before retiring.

Deandre Levy

Detroit Lions v Pittsburgh Steelers

DeAndre Levy is often regarded as one of the best linebackers in Detroit Lions history. He played his entire eight-year career in Detroit after being selected in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft. He totaled 632 tackles in 95 games played for Detroit, the third highest mark in team history. In 2013, he intercepted six passes, the joint-highest total for a linebacker in team history.

Tahir Whitehead

Detroit Lions v New York Giants Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

Tahir Whitehead was selected by Detroit in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL draft. He played the first six season on his career for the Lions. He notched 389 tackles in 93 games for the Lions. He signed with the Raiders in 2018 and currently plays in Oakland.

Second team: Justin Durant, Jarrad Davis. Julian Peterson

Cornerback

Darius Slay

Detroit Lions v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Darius Slay was selected by the Lions in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft. He has played his entire seven-year career in Detroit thus far. Slay has been credited with 104 passes defended and 19 interceptions so far in his Lions career.

Rashean Mathis

Denver Broncos v Detroit Lions Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Rashean Mathis signed with the Lions after spending the first 10 years of his career playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The corner played 36 games over his three seasons in Detroit. He snagged two interceptions and defended 28 passes during that time. He retired after the 2015 season.

Second team: Chris Houston, Justin Coleman

Safety

Glover Quin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions

Glover Quin signed with the Lions in 2013 after playing the first four years of his NFL career for the Houston Texans. He played in 96 games during his six-year span in Detroit. He intercepted 19 passes and defended 37 others as a Lion. His 424 tackles for the team is the 10th highest total in team history. He retired after the 2018 season.

Quandre Diggs

Los Angeles Chargers v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Quandre Diggs was selected by the Lions in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL draft. He has played both cornerback and safety for Detroit. He played 65 games for the Lions over five years, before being traded to the Seahawks mid-way through 2019. He intercepted nine passes and defended 24 others for the Lions.

Second team: Louis Delmas, Tavon Wilson

Kicker

Matt Prater

Jacksonville Jaguars v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Matt Prater signed with the Detroit Lions mid-way through the 2014 season. He currently holds the record for longest field goal in NFL history, as he made a 64 yard attempt as a member of the Denver Broncos. Prater has scored 667 points for Detroit, the third highest total in team history. His 85.9 percent field goal accuracy is the highest mark in team history. Prater has made 158 field goals as a Lions—third highest in team history—and 193 extra points — fourth highest.

Second team: Jason Hanson

Punter

Sam Martin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sam Martin was selected by the Lions in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft. He has played his entire seven-year career with the Lions thus far. He averages 46 yards per punt attempt, the eighth highest total in team history. His 473 career punts as a Lions are the fifth highest for any Lion.

Second team: Nick Harris

Return man

Jamal Agnew

Detroit Lions v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Jamal Agnew was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft. The cornerback has played all three years of his career so far in Detroit. He has returned three punts for touchdowns in his career, tying him for third in Lions history. Agnew has 60 career punt returns as a Lion. He is one of 18 Lions in team history to return a kick off for a touchdown.

Second team: Jeremy Ross