The 10 Most Overrated Players in Detroit Lions History

Brandon LeopoldContributor IMay 8, 2013

The 10 Most Overrated Players in Detroit Lions History

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    It's no secret that in recent years, the Detroit Lions have botched a few draft picks. Some of significant stature, some not so much. While the Lions seem to have slowly found their way out of the Matt Millen forest, there is no denying that there are still some draft selections that will haunt them forever.

    Let me make one thing perfectly clear beyond this point. The term overrated does NOT mean a player isn't any good. It simply means that their legacy was overinflated a bit for one reason or another. So calm down, breathe and enjoy. 

    Without further ado, the 10 most overrated players in Detroit Lions history.

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    Andre Ware, Quarterback

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      Lions fans looking for a bit of nostalgia might remember this gem from the glory days of yesteryear.

      Andre Ware came out of the University of Houston as the Heisman Trophy winner. It makes perfect sense, right?

      I mean, how often do the terms "Lions" and "Heisman Trophy" end up in the same scenario together? 

      According to Pro Football Reference, Ware only played four seasons in the blue and silver. The most games he ever started was five in 1993, his final season.

      Not bad for a Heisman winner.

      Granted, he was brought in to be a backup, but Ware quickly turned from young upstart to arguably the worst draft pick—and biggest draft bust—in Lions history. 

    Charles Rogers, Wide Receiver

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      This one has got to be the easiest pick I could make. Coming out of Michigan State, former wide receiver Charles Rogers was the perfect specimen.

      He had height, he had hands, he had loads of talent. Former quarterback Joey Harrington needed weapons, and Rogers was a prolific wideout and a hometown boy—a match made in Heaven.


      In his Lions debut, Rogers went down with a broken collarbone. The next season, he went down early in the season with another broken collarbone.

      Since then, Rogers has been in and out of jail and will likely never play football again. A sad, sad tale for a No. 2 pick with immense talent. 

    Scott Mitchell, Quarterback

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      Ah, Scott Mitchell. Remember him? The dude that only had one—count them—ONE good season with the Lions? That same season, by the way, happened to be the one where he set the franchise single-season passing record after signing with the Lions from Miami. You'd think that as Dan Marino's backup, he'd have some better performances.

      Mitchell was the quintessential 1990s quarterback. He was tall (6'6"), built like a tank at a modest 245 pounds and was left handed, which for some reason seems to still make offensive coordinators' mouths water to this day.

      Yet, even with the likes of Herman Moore, Barry Sanders and his favorite target, David Sloan, Mitchell still couldn't seem to get the ball rolling for more than one season.

      Hey, there's a reason Lomas Brown said what he said during a radio interview earlier this year, whether he was joking or not.

      Mitchell was known more for making fun of Wayne Fontes than he was for throwing touchdowns. However, he did manage to lead the Lions to two playoff appearances in 1995 and 1997.

      After that '97 loss to Tampa Bay, though, Mitchell quickly found himself a journeyman, finishing out his career in Cincinnati and Baltimore.

      The broken ribs and other injuries he suffered didn't help matters much.

    Roy Williams, Wide Receiver

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      And, cue the "Eye of the Tiger" melody! Roy! Roy, Roy, Roy! Anyway...

      Former wide receiver Roy Williams checks in thanks in large part because of his on-the-field antics. 

      How many of you remember when the Lions would be blown out of games, especially in the dreadful 0-16 season, and Williams was still giving the first-down sign? His comments made about unnamed teammates made Williams out to be a prima donna as opposed to a good locker room presence.

      There's a reason he couldn't stick with the Chicago Bears or the Dallas Cowboys, either.

      Williams really only had one good season with the Lions, when he amassed over 1,300 yards in 2006. That was also the only season he played all 16 games or had over 850 receiving yards. 

      Hey, at least his worst season with the Lions was better than his best season with the Cowboys. Good move, Martin Mayhew. Good move indeed. 

      Oh yeah, the dropped balls didn't help much either. 

    Dre Bly, Cornerback

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      When I first learned of the Dre Bly signing, I thought that maybe—just maybe—the Lions finally did something right. Bly came from the St. Louis Rams with a pedigree. He had speed, he had a nose for the ball and he would make the big play when it counted, so the scouting report said. And he had one thing that the Lions didn't have—a Super Bowl ring.

      But even if you call Bly the best cornerback of the last decade for the Lions, who are you comparing him to, Terry Fair?

      Bly had an annoying talent for making Lions fans cheer and jeer at the same time. He would jump a route and get a pick, then get burned on the next possession because he was overaggressive. He would exemplify leadership in the locker room one game, then turn around and throw his starting quarterback under the bus. 

      The only thing consistent about Bly was his inconsistency. Bly was a good, but not great cornerback, but there's a reason the Lions were quick to trade him for Tatum Bell. 

    David Sloan, Tight End

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      David Sloan made a Pro Bowl and amassed just over 2,000 yards receiving in seven seasons with the Honolulu blue. He averaged about 20 catches and two touchdowns a year, give or take a few.

      Hmm...thanks, but no thanks. 

      I will say this though. Sloan had hands of glue. Unlike current tight end Brandon Pettigrew, when Sloan got the ball, he held on to it. He never fumbled once—I will repeat this, so make sure you're listening well—HE NEVER FUMBLED ONCE during his entire nine-year career in the NFL. Now that is impressive.

    Luther Elliss, Defensive Lineman

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      This is the ultimate fall-from-grace tale, so I really don't mean to pile on a guy while he's going through hard times, but Luther Elliss is worthy of this list.

      Elliss was an awfully likable guy, and was known for some bone-crunching hits and energy and enthusiasm on the sideline. So why is "Pass Rushing Luther" on this list?

      Even though he totaled a combined 15 sacks in his second and third years in the NFL, he only tallied 12 in his final six seasons with the Lions. 

      It's not like Luther wasn't doing anything right; he made the Pro Bowl in two of those six seasons. However, he just wasn't that good overall despite his proximity to star defensive end Robert Porcher. 

      I'm not quite sure how a guy who averaged three sacks a season can earn the nickname "Pass Rushing Luther."

    Ernie Sims, Linebacker

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      Ernie Sims really seemed like a winner for a while, didn't he?

      He may have been small, but he had that blazing sideline-to-sideline speed that would dazzle fans and burn opponents.

      He had that speed, and...

      Wait, what else was there?

      I guess people miss Sims because the linebacker position has been in a state of aeon flux ever since he left. There seems to be some solidarity with Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy, but there's always a spot or two in the linebacking corps that is a revolving door of wasted talent.

    Bennie Blades, Safety

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      Those who relish the 1990s Lions, or saw the 30 for 30 documentary "The U," love Bennie Blades.

      And how could you not? He was a fine football player.

      He racked up some good tackle stats, and was a solid player in the Lions secondary for a long time. 

      However, the Lions took Blades third overall in 1988. THIRD OVERALL!

      For that, they got nine years, good for 12 interceptions, nine forced fumbles and a Pro Bowl. 

      Overall, not bad for a safety.

      The position has never been the same since. However, you expect better from someone drafted so high.

    Eddie Murray, Kicker

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      Once again, before you throw me to the wolves, harken back to the introductory slide. Overrated does not mean bad. It's hard to argue against "Steady" Eddie Murray. After all, he is the second-best kicker in Lions' history. 

      Yet, many Lions fans don't know just how distant a second he is. I have often engaged in the never-ending debate, "if Jason Hanson blah blah blah, then why not Eddie Murray?"

      With all due respect to Steady Eddie, stop right there. That's just utter bupkis. 

      The only things that tie Murray to Hanson is that they were both kickers and both played in Detroit since what seems like the team's inception.

      Okay, obviously it wasn't that long, but they both played in Detroit for a really long time.

      Beyond that, anyone who dares try to compare the two kickers side by side simply doesn't understand how special Jason Hanson was. 

      Aside from the fact that Hanson has double the tenure of Murray (Murray played for 12 years, Hanson retired this offseason after 22), Hanson has done things no other kicker in history had done. If kickers were allowed into the Hall of Fame, and if I had a vote, he'd be on the first ballot. No doubt. 

      Murray? He was good. Really, really good. Scary good. As in multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections good. 

      But Hanson is a living legend. Let me make it known I will sing Eddie Murray's praises and have no problem with anyone else who does, but he is no Jason Hanson.