Detroit Lions: 30 Best Draft Picks in Team History

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9.  Joe Schmidt (linebacker) – Wearing jersey #56 as a linebacker doesn’t guarantee success in the NFL, but in the case of Joe Schmidt things seemed to work out just fine.  Schmidt spent the better part of two plus decades as a Detroit Lions player (and later as a coach) giving opposing offenses fits.

The Detroit Lions selected him with the 85 overall pick (7th round) in the 1953 draft.  Some teams were concerned that Schmidt wasn’t a physically imposing enough specimen to succeed at the NFL level as a linebacker.

Schmidt took the opportunity from the Lions and never looked back.  He became a ten-time (that’s not a typo) Pro Bowl selection, twice an NFL champion, four times a team MVP, and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Schmidt finished his career with 24 interceptions, but he was always a player who transcended numbers and statistics.

He used his speed to evade larger opponents, and was known around the league as incredibly sure-handed tackler.  So when he got himself in position to make a play (which was often) he most often did just that.

Some of Schmidt’s greatest attributes as a player were his ability to think the game, anticipate plays, and call the correct defensive alignments at the right moment.

As a middle linebacker, Schmidt clearly advanced the importance of middle linebacker “quarterbacking” the defense.

Next: Number 8