Detroit Lions: 30 Best Draft Picks in Team History

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17.  Billy Sims – (running back) – Another player in the “what could have been” category.  This time it’s not for never playing for the Lions, but rather for not playing for them long enough.  For better (and worse) any Lions fans (should) know the wonderful, sweet, but too short career of Billy Sims.

Billy Sims was the original #20 (okay, technically that was Lem Barney). But before Barry Sanders honored the #20 Lions jersey with a hall of fame rushing career, Billy Sims was on the same stellar career trajectory.

The Lions selected Sims with the first overall pick in the 1980.  Sims won the Heisman Trophy in college at Oklahoma, and he was well on his way to an accomplished career in his first few seasons as a Lion.

His first two seasons, Sims rushed for 1,303 and 1,437 yards respectively.  He also had 13 rushing touchdowns each year.  In addition to piling up the stats rushing the football, Sims also gained over 1,000 yards (total) receiving in his first two seasons. 
Sims’ success led the Lions to playoff appearances in 1982 and 1983, while he was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1980, 1981, and 1982.

Unfortunately, Sims suffered a horrible knee injury in 1984, against the  Minnesota Vikings.  He would rehab extensively and attempt a comeback, but never return to NFL game action.

Though his career was short, Billy Sims is now, and will forever be, long-remembered as an all-time Lion great.

Next: Number 16