The Detroit Lions have had some big hits – and some big misses – with their first-round pick in the NFL Draft the last 20 years.
Calvin Johnson (2007) was a star. Charles Rogers (2002), not so much.
But when evaluating entire draft classes, the Lions’ 2013 haul stands as the best of the last 20 years, according to CBS Sports.
The Lions’ first-rounder that year was Ezekiel Ansah, No. 5 overall, a defensive end from BYU. Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay followed in the second round and Kentucky guard Larry Warford in the third round.
“The Lions successfully hit on each of their first three picks in 2013, when they acquired 2015 Pro Bowl defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, three-time Pro Bowl defensive back Darius Slay, and three-time Pro Bowl guard Larry Warford,” says CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo. “Detroit also found late-round value in punter Sam Martin and running back Theo Riddick. Each of these players played significant roles in the Lions' playoff seasons in 2014 and in 2016.”
But while Ansah, Slay and Warford all had some measure of success with the Lions, they are no longer with the team. Warford signed with the Saints in 2017, Ansah signed with the Seahawks in 2019 and the Lions traded Slay to the Eagles in March for third- and fifth-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Lions eventually traded the third-round pick and used the fifth-round pick on Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus.
Though the Lions generally received high marks for their draft selections in 2020, those players were not considered in this analysis by CBS Sports.
Lions 2013 NFL Draft
DE Ezekiel Ansah, Round 1, Pick 5, BYU
CB Darius Slay, Round 2, Pick 36, Mississippi State
G Larry Warford, Round 3, Pick 65, Kentucky
DE Devin Taylor, Round 4, Pick 132, South Carolina
P Sam Martin, Round 5, Pick 165, Appalachian State
WR Corey Fuller, Round 6, Pick 171, Virginia Tech
RB Theo Riddick, Round 6, Pick 199, Notre Dame
TE Michael Williams, Round 7, Pick 211, Alabama
LB Brandon Hepburn, Round 7, Pick 245, Florida A&M