30. Y.A. Tittle (quarterback) – This list of best Detroit Lions draft picks is short on quarterbacks, so imagine if YA Tittle had spent the majority of his hall of fame career in Detroit? Titillating, isn’t it? Detroit drafted him sixth overall in the 1948 draft (incidentally, future Lion legend Bobby Layne was the first quarterback selected that year).
Unfortunately, Yelberton Abraham Tittle never played a down as a Lion. He began his playing career with the Baltimore Colts of the AAFC (All-America Football Conference). The Colts joined the NFL in 1950, but folded after that season.
The San Francisco 49ers drafted him in 1951, and not long after, his career took flight. Here’s just some of what the Lions missed out on. Tittle was a seven-time pro bowler, and a four-time MVP.
He lead the New York Giants to three straight Eastern Division titles, threw for a (then) record 36 touchdown passes in 1963, (threw for 242 career touchdowns and 33,070 yards overall) and and became the first professional football player to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated (1954).
Ultimately, Tittle was elected to the Pro Football Hall Of fame in 1971. While the Lions missed out on Tittle’s entire playing career, think of what could have been, if the Lions had held onto him.
If Tittle had spent his playing career with the Lions, they most likely would have missed out on Bobby Layne’s fantastic career as the Detroit quarterback. Of course, if the Lions never had Layne, they also would have missed out trading Layne – and the infamous Bobby Layne Curse!
Next: Number 29