Lions' lack of star power showing up in offseason rankings
Whether ranked by analysts or their peers around the league, the Detroit Lions' low presence on lists of top players highlights the team's continued lack of star power.
On Wednesday night, the NFL Network wrapped up its annual 10-part series, "NFL Top 100 Players," and for the first time in the program's decade-long run, the Lions were shut out.
The list is cultivated late in the regular season, when representatives from the NFL Network offer ballots to every player available during one 45-minute session of open locker room. Players are asked to rank the 20 best players in the league.
If the Lions locker room is any indication, the majority of players don't participate, and many that do don't take it seriously, with several putting themselves near the top of their lists each year. Still, the high-level production of the program, which includes one-on-one interviews with players discussing the rankings, makes for quality television.
It's not overly surprising there wasn't a notable Lions presence on the list after the team won just three games in 2019, ending the year on a nine-game skid. Technically, a former Lion was recognized for his performance with the team in 2019. Cornerback Darius Slay made the cut for the third straight year, checking in at No. 92.
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Of course, Slay was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this offseason.
In terms of snubs, wide receiver Kenny Golladay has the strongest case. In 2019, he led the team with 1,190 yards and paced the league with 11 scoring grabs. His 18.3 yards per catch ranked third in the NFL among qualified pass-catchers.
But the league's players didn't see fit to put Golladay ahead of the other 17 receivers who made the list, including Seattle rookie DK Metcalf or Chicago's Allen Robinson (Orchard Lake St. Mary's), who had fewer yards and scores than Golladay.
Even dismissing the convoluted construction of this list, the Lions also struggled to make an impression with national analysts that put together similar rankings. The team didn't land anyone on Pro Football Focus' top-101 list posted in February and only defensive end Trey Flowers (No. 88) graced CBS Sports' version.
And in the ever-popular Madden video game rankings, center Frank Ragnow (eighth) and kicker Matt Prater (sixth) were determined to be among the top 10 at their respective positions. Mirroring the players' list on NFL Network, Golladay's Madden ranking was 20th among receivers.
In the grand scheme of things, these lists make for good social media and talk radio fodder, but don't amount to wins and losses. Yet they do underscore Detroit's lack of top-tier talent, a valid criticism of general manager Bob Quinn's roster construction during his five-year tenure.
It's all circular. Star power leads to wins, wins lead to more national recognition. In 2019, the Lions clearly lacked, all the way around.