Pat Caputo: Top 10 Detroit Lions Not Named Barry Sanders Since Last Playoff Win

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Any ranking of Lions’ greats starts at No.2.

Doesn’t matter if the span is all time or, like this one, since the Lions’ last postseason victory.

It’s senseless to question who is at the very top.

There was only one Barry Sanders. There was never a player like him before nor will there be again.

His stats were impressive, his highlights unrivaled.

The Lions last won a playoff game following the 1991 season, but not because they haven’t had tremendous players.

It’s just the sum of the parts haven’t fit together.

These are the top 10 Lions’ players not named Barry Sanders since their last postseason victory:

1. Calvin Johnson - Megatron holds the NFL record for single-season receiving yardage (1,964 in 2012) and is fourth all time in yards per game (86.1). At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds with 4.35 speed in the 40, his skills were off the chart. It’s an indictment on the Lions’ organization they had a 49-86 record when this brilliant player was in the lineup.

 

2. Ndamukong Suh - A first-team All Pro three of his five seasons with the Lions, Suh was a relentless force in the middle of the Lions’ defensive line. He reached double digits in sacks as a rookie, a rarity for an interior lineman, and he had similar production in 2014 (8.5 sacks, 21 tackles for losses) when the Lions won 11 games largely because of a stellar defense. There was a downside to Suh. His anger issues on the field were costly. He came across more self-centered than team oriented. But the good far outweighed the bad.

 

3. Matthew Stafford - Up and down, but never able to reach the point of winning a playoff game, defines Stafford as a Lion. The highs are statistical and stand out. Most notably, Stafford ranks second only to Drew Brees in passing yards per game. His fourth quarter comebacks have been epic. The lows include Stafford coming off the rails at the end of 2013, beginning of 2015 and during 2018. Stafford had a solid 2019 season before injured and is certainly capable of moving up the list.

 

4. Herman Moore - In 1995, Moore set the NFL record with 123 receptions. It stood for seven years and is still seventh all time. He was first-team All Pro three times and had four straight seasons In which he was sixth or higher in receiving yards. An outstanding high jumper, Moore translated it into brilliance high pointing the ball. Also, Moore was one of first receivers to perfect the back shoulder catch.

 

5. Lomas Brown - It’s a myth Sanders ran behind a weak offensive line. Brown was one of the NFL’s best left tackles during the 1990s and is a borderline Hall of Fame candidate. He was a first-team All Pro in 1995, and selected for the Pro Bowl six times as a Lion. Exceptional foot work while pass protecting was Brown’s trademark.

 

6. Robert Porcher - By far the Lions’ career sack leader with 95.5, Porcher was a late bloomer. He played inside a lot early in his career, but when moved more to the edge at age 27, his production sky rocketed. He reached double figures in sacks five of the next six seasons with a high of 15 in 1999. Strong, athletic, hard working, prideful, the whole package.

 

7. Chris Spielman - The classic tackling machine, Spielman was both rugged and cerebral. He made four Pro Bowls and was a first team All Pro in 1991. There was a knock on his pass coverage, but he was better in that area than his reputation suggests. Terrific player.

 

8. Kevin Glover - Sanders gained more than 2,000 yards in 1997, the Lions made the playoffs and then head coach Bobby Ross made a decision to move on from Kevin Glover. The Lions were never the same after it. Sanders retired after 1998. It was clear removing his center bothered him. Glover is one of the most underrated players in Lions’ history. He was a master of technique and line calls, and a three-time Pro Bowler. And to think, Ross was Glover’s college coach at Maryland.

 

9. Darius Slay - Cornerback has long been a weakness for the Lions, but Slay made it a strength. He often lived up to his self-proclaimed nickname of “Big Play” Slay as a Lion, especially during 2017 when he led the NFL in interceptions (8) and passes defended (26) and was subsequently named All Pro.

 

10. Jason Hanson and Matt Prater (tie) - Hanson was one the NFL’s best for two decades and Prater has arguably been even better. Their success, though, has in an odd way come to symbolize the Lions’ struggles, especially in the scoring zone. At least no punters are on this list, right?​