46. Bennie Blades, S, 1988-1996
If you watched the Detroit Lions during the 1990′s then you know who Bennie Blades is. That’s because Blades was a solid fixture of the Lions secondary for the better part of the decade.
Blades lone Pro Bowl season came in 1992, but he posted three seasons of 100-plus tackles, including a 131-tackle season in 1996, his final year with the team. He is second all time in career tackles with the Lions.
Blades played a big part in the University of Miami’s winning the 1987 NCAA National Championship. He also won the Jim Thorpe Award in that year and, in 2006, was named to the College Football Hall of Fame for his play at the University of Miami.
Following his graduation from the University of Miami, Blades entered the 1988 NFL Draft.
The Lions selected Blades with the third overall pick, and he went on to earn NFL All-Rookie honors for the 1988 season. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1991 – in addition to receiving First-Team All-NFL and First-team All-NFC honors. He was the Lions’ Defensive MVP in 1992.
An underrated professional player, Blades was a key component to the Lions’ defense that helped the team claim two NFC Central titles, and a berth in the 1992 NFC Championship game. He was a defensive captain for five years in Detroit and his 815 career tackles place him second on the Lions’ all-time list.
Tackles are a really bad stat to gauge success on, but it’s appropriate for Blades, who spent much of his career in a run-support role. If that doesn’t get it for you, he also returned two interceptions for 112 yards during that 1996 season.