49. Jeff Backus, LT, 2001-2012
It’s a well known fact that offensive lineman don’t get nearly enough credit. Jeff Backus was the first pick by Matt Millen, the Detroit Lions general manager who is responsible for a number of NFL Draft busts, and a miserable near decade in the Motor City.
Drafted in 2001, Backus played his college ball at the University of Michigan where he was a part of the 1997 National Championship team. During his senior season of high school ball, Backus was a USA Today All-America selection.
During his tenure on the Lions offensive line, Backus overcame a rough road. Despite numerous coaching changes, house cleanings, a carousel of left guard partners, offensive systems and quarterbacks, Backus was able to put together a solid career.
Backus became a rock for the Lions after the team wasted high draft picks on Aaron Gibson and Stocker McDougle. He put together a consecutive games started streak that made it all the way up to 186 games.
Many Lions fans didn’t realize how valuable Backus was until he retired and Detroit began to try and fill the void left by his departure. While Backus was never “great” so to speak, he was unbelievably solid during an unstable time in Detroit, and for that, Backus makes this list.