Backdraft: Detroit Lions

Backdraft: Detroit Lions

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BACKDRAFT SERIES: For 16 days leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft, we're rolling out capsule draft histories of each of the 32 NFL Teams.



Backdraft Series
Apr. 12 - Packers | Steelers
Apr. 13 - Bears | Jets
Apr. 14- Patriots | Falcons
Apr. 15- Ravens | Seahawks
Apr. 16- Saints | Eagles
Apr. 17- Colts | Chiefs
Apr. 18- Buccaneers | Giants
Apr. 19- Chargers | Raiders
Apr. 20- Jaguars | Dolphins
Apr. 21- Rams | Lions
Apr. 22- Vikings | Texans
Apr. 23- Redskins | Cowboys
Apr. 24- Titans | 49ers
Apr. 25- Browns | Cardinals
Apr. 26- Bengals | Bills
Apr. 27- Broncos | Panthers
2011 Draft Position:
• 13


First-Ever Draft Pick:

• Sid Wagner, G, Michigan State (1st Round, 8th overall, 1936)


Most Recent Draft Pick:

• Tim Toone, WR, Weber State (7th round, 255th overall, in 2010)


Hall of Famers Drafted:

Alex Wojciechowicz - 1st Round (6th overall), 1938
Otto Graham - 1st Round (4th overall), 1944
Y.A. Tittle - 1st Round (6th overall), 1948
Lou Creekmur - Selected in the second round of a special draft, 1950 (Originally drafted in 1948 by the Philadelphia Eagles in 26th round (243rd overall) and the AAFC's Los Angeles Dons in 28th round - 197th overall. He opted to complete his college eligibility.)
Jack Christiansen - 6th Round (69th overall), 1951
Yale Lary - 3rd Round (34th overall), 1952
Joe Schmidt - 7th Round (85th overall), 1953
Fred Biletnikoff - 3rd round (39th overall), 1965 (Also selected in 2nd Round in AFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders)
Lem Barney - 2nd Round (34th overall), 1967
Charlie Sanders - 3rd Round (74th overall), 1968
Barry Sanders - 1st Round (3rd overall), 1989


First Overall Pick in the NFL Draft:

• 2009 – Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
• 1980 – Billy Sims, RB, Oklahoma
• 1950 – Leon Hart, E, Notre Dame
• 1943 – Frank Sinkwich, HB, Georgia


Alex Wojciechowicz Billy Sims Barry Sanders
Did you know?
The NFL added some modifications to the draft rules after the first two college player drafts were held. In 1938, the changes called for the five lower NFL teams to get an extra pick after the first round. Confusion delayed the start of that year's draft as some of the teams wanted to make multiple picks before the top teams even had made one selection. With President Joe Carr ill and unable to attend the draft, NFL Vice President Carl Storck orchestrated the compromise on the debate and the draft was under way.

The Detroit Lions, one of the teams who didn't get an extra pick, made the most with their first-round selection. They drafted highly-touted lineman from Fordham's famed "Seven Blocks of Granite" Alex Wojciechowicz. Shortly after the pick, however, the Lions were confronted with fact that "Wojie" wasn't interested in playing center in the pros despite the fact he was regarded as the finest center in the country.

Fortunately, for both parties, Wojciechowicz came to agreement and embarked a spectacular career that landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a dominant two-way star, center on offense and linebacker on defense, for Detroit from 1938 to 1946 before focusing solely on defense during his final four-plus years with the Philadelphia Eagles.



"Matthew walked back in and I could just tell. When he came around the corner, he had a smile on his face. He did a very non-chalant thumb's up."

That story was recounted by John Stafford after his son Matthew walked back into a Manhattan restaurant on the eve of the 2009 NFL Draft. The Georgia quarterback had just taken a phone call from his agent and was informed that the Detroit Lions would select him first overall the next day. On top of that, they had agreed to a contract that would pay the young Stafford $72 million.

And, with that, he also inherited the heavy weight of a curse on the Lions franchise supposedly cast by Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne after the team traded him in 1958.

Stafford was surprised by the staggering financial terms of the deal but not overwhelmed by the challenge that came with it.

"It's something I have to live up to and I have to prove that I'm worth. And that's exciting for me," shared Matthew.



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