26. Jerry Ball (defensive tackle) – Jerry Ball – the big man in the middle of the Detroit Lions defensive line – was a hard man to forget, and equally difficult to play against.
The Lions drafted him in the third round (63rd pick overall) of the 1987 NFL draft. He played with Detroit from 1987-1992, before going on to play short stints with the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Raiders, and Minnesota Vikings (on which he was a key contributor who helped lead the Vikings to a 15-1 regular season record in 1998).
But Ball did the bulk of his damage while playing in a Lions uniform. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection – all with Detroit – in 1989, 1990, and 1991.
Ball was renowned for his run-stuffing talent, as well as his abilities to be double and triple teamed by opposing linemen, and still be effective. The extra attention paid to him by opposing offenses would also inevitably give other defensive line teammates more opportunities.
Though Ball was known for stuffing the run, he was also able to get penetration from his nose tackle position, as evidenced by his 32.5 career sacks.
The Lions have had a handful of great defensive linemen through the years, but few as memorable in style, shape, and effectiveness as Jerry Ball.
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