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    History of Detroit Lions First-Round NFL Draft Picks All Time

    Highlighted by the selections of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson, the Detroit Lions' history of first-round picks in the NFL Draft has its bright spots.

    The Detroit Lions‘ performance with NFL Draft first-round picks has always been up and down. But the team’s modern history is indicative of the potential the Lions have. First-round picks like Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford have shown they can revitalize a franchise, and all it takes is one more strong cycle to bring the team the success it craves.

    Detroit Lions First-Round Draft Picks Throughout History

    The Lions are one of the NFL’s oldest franchises. They took part in the very first NFL Draft showcase in 1936, and since then, they’ve selected seven Hall of Famers. That figure, however, is misleading. Three Hall of Famers drafted by the Lions — quarterbacks Otto Graham and Y.A. Tittle, and defensive back Johnny Robinson — never played a down in Detroit, all opting for AFL counterparts at the time.

    Nevertheless, Detroit received excellent returns from defensive lineman Alex Karras — the great uncle of current Bengals center Ted Karras — and their two most recent Hall of Fame first-round picks are the most impressive. Barry Sanders is regarded as one of the greatest RBs of all time, and Calvin Johnson — a 2021 Hall of Fame inductee — might be the most dominating WR spectacle ever to play.

    2024

    • Terrion Arnold | Pick 24
      CB, Alabama

    2023

    • Jahmyr Gibbs | Pick 12
      RB, Alabama
    • Jack Campbell | Pick 18
      LB, Iowa

    2022

    • Aidan Hutchinson | Pick 2
      EDGE, Michigan
    • Jameson Williams | Pick 12
      WR, Alabama

    2021

    • Penei Sewell | Pick 7
      OL, Oregon

    2020

    • Jeff Okudah | Pick 3
      CB, Ohio State

    2019

    • T.J. Hockenson | Pick 8
      TE, Iowa

    2018

    • Frank Ragnow | Pick 20
      C, Arkansas

    2017

    • Jarrad Davis | Pick 21
      LB, Florida

    2016

    • Taylor Decker | Pick 16
      T, Ohio State

    2015

    • Laken Tomlinson | Pick 28
      G, Duke

    2014

    • Eric Ebron | Pick 10
      TE, North Carolina

    2013

    • Ezekiel Ansah | Pick 5
      DE, BYU

    2012

    • Riley Reiff | Pick 23
      T, Iowa

    2011

    • Nick Fairley | Pick 13
      DT, Auburn

    2010

    • Ndamukong Suh | Pick 2
      DT, Nebraska
    • Jahvid Best | Pick 30
      RB, California

    2009

    • Matthew Stafford | Pick 1
      QB, Georgia
    • Brandon Pettigrew | Pick 20
      TE, Oklahoma State

    2008

    • Gosder Cherilus | Pick 17
      T, Boston College

    2007

    • Calvin Johnson* | Pick 2
      WR, Georgia Tech

    2006

    • Ernie Sims | Pick 9
      LB, Florida State

    2005

    • Mike Williams | Pick 10
      WR, USC

    2004

    • Roy Williams | Pick 7
      WR, Texas
    • Kevin Jones | Pick 30
      RB, Virginia Tech

    2003

    • Charles Rogers | Pick 2
      WR, Michigan State

    2002

    • Joey Harrington | Pick 3
      QB, Oregon

    2001

    • Jeff Backus | Pick 18
      T, Michigan

    2000

    • Stockar McDougle | Pick 20
      T, Oklahoma

    1999

    • Chris Claiborne | Pick 9
      LB, USC
    • Aaron Gibson | Pick 27
      T, Wisconsin

    1998

    • Terry Fair | Pick 20
      DB, Tennessee

    1997

    • Bryant Westbrook | Pick 5
      DB, Texas

    1996

    • Reggie Brown | Pick 17
      LB, Texas A&M
    • Jeff Hartings | Pick 23
      C, Penn State

    1995

    • Luther Elliss | Pick 20
      DT, Utah

    1994

    • Johnnie Morton | Pick 21
      WR, USC

    1993

    The Lions traded the eighth pick to the New Orleans Saints.

    1992

    • Robert Porcher | Pick 26
      DE, South Carolina State

    1991

    • Herman Moore | Pick 10
      WR, Virginia

    1990

    • Andre Ware | Pick 7
      QB, Houston

    1989

    • Barry Sanders* | Pick 3
      RB, Oklahoma State

    1988

    • Bennie Blades | Pick 3
      DB, Miami (FL)

    1987

    • Reggie Rogers | Pick 7
      DE, Washington

    1986

    • Chuck Long | Pick 12
      QB, Iowa

    1985

    • Lomas Brown | Pick 6
      T, Florida

    1984

    • David Lewis | Pick 20
      TE, California

    1983

    • James Jones | Pick 13
      FB, Florida

    1982

    • Jimmy Williams | Pick 15
      LB, Nebraska

    1981

    • Mark Nichols | Pick 16
      WR, San Jose State

    1980

    • Billy Sims | Pick 1
      RB, Oklahoma

    1979

    • Keith Dorney | Pick 10
      T, Penn State

    1978

    • Luther Bradley | Pick 11
      DB, Notre Dame

    1977

    The Lions traded the 12th selection to the Buffalo Bills.

    1976

    • James Hunter | Pick 10
      DB, Grambling State
    • Lawrence Gaines | Pick 16
      RB, Wyoming

    1975

    • Lynn Boden | Pick 13
      G, South Dakota State

    1974

    • Ed O’Neil | Pick 8
      LB, Penn State

    1973

    • Ernie Price | Pick 17
      DE, Texas A&M-Kingsville

    1972

    • Herb Orvis | Pick 16
      DT, Colorado

    1971

    • Bob Bell | Pick 21
      DT, Cincinnati

    1970

    • Steve Owens | Pick 19
      RB, Oklahoma

    1969

    The Lions traded their first-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams.

    1968

    • Greg Landry | Pick 11
      QB, Massachusetts
    • Earl McCullouch | Pick 24
      WR, USC

    1967

    • Mel Farr | Pick 7
      RB, UCLA

    1966

    The Lions forfeited their first-round selection to the Green Bay Packers as compensation for signing free agent Ron Kramer

    1965

    • Tom Nowatzke | Pick 11
      FB, Indiana

    1964

    • Pete Beathard | Pick 5
      QB, USC

    1963

    • Daryl Sanders | Pick 12
      T, Ohio State

    1962

    • John Hadl | Pick 10
      QB, Kansas

    1961

    The Lions traded the 10th pick to the Cleveland Browns.

    1960

    • Johnny Robinson* | Pick 3
      DB, LSU

    1959

    • Nick Pietrosante | Pick 6
      FB, Notre Dame

    1958

    • Alex Karras* | Pick 10
      DT, Iowa

    1957

    • Bill Glass | Pick 12
      DE, Baylor

    1956

    • Howard Cassady | Pick 3
      HB, Ohio State

    1955

    • Dave Middleton | Pick 12
      DE, Auburn

    1954

    • Dick Chapman | Pick 13
      T, Rice

    1953

    • Harley Sewell | Pick 13
      G, Texas

    1952

    The Lions traded the 10th pick to the Cleveland Browns.

    1951

    The Lions traded the eighth pick to the Philadelphia Eagles.

    1950

    • Leon Hart | Pick 1
      DE, Notre Dame
    • Joe Watson | Pick 5
      C, Rice

    1949

    • John Rauch | Pick 2
      QB, Georgia

    1948

    • Y.A. Tittle* | Pick 6
      QB, LSU

    1947

    • Glenn Davis | Pick 2
      HB, Army

    1946

    • Bill Dellastatious | Pick 8
      QB, Missouri

    1945

    • Frank Szymanski | Pick 6
      C, Notre Dame

    1944

    • Otto Graham* | Pick 4
      QB, Northwestern

    1943

    • Frankie Sinkwich | Pick 1
      QB, Georgia

    1942

    • Bob Westfall | Pick 5
      FB, Michigan

    1941

    • Jim Thomason | Pick 5
      RB, Texas A&M

    1940

    • Doyle Nave | Pick 6
      QB, USC (did not play a game for the team)

    1939

    • Johnny Pingel | Pick 7
      RB, Michigan State

    1938

    • Alex Wojciechowicz* | Pick 6
      C, Fordham

    1937

    • Lloyd Cardwell | Pick 7
      RB, Nebraska

    1936

    • Sid Wagner | Pick 8
      G, Michigan State

    *Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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