Photograph: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
24. Dominic Raiola (center) – The Lions didn’t have to wait too many seasons before finding their next reliable center. Detroit selected Raiola in the 2nd round (50th overall) of the 2001 NFL draft, and neither side looked back.
Perhaps Raiola was destined to wear the honolulu & blue (he was born in Honolulu), but whatever the reason, he would play his entire career (from 2001-2014) with the Lions.
If Glover was blended in with his steady play, Raiola somehow managed to stick out. He was a polarizing figure to many Detroit fans. Never one to bite his tongue, many viewed Raiola as a fiery, outspoken leader, on Detroit teams that often needed just that type of attitude.
Still, others saw Raiola as a loudmouth, who struggled to maintain his composure, and keep his emotions in check.
Raiola’s career had plenty of ups and downs. He was the starting center during the Lions infamous 0-16, 2008 season. On the other hand, Raiola became the first player in Lions history to start 200 games.
If the Lions wanted to upgrade at the center position, they certainly had several opportunities (and years) to do it. Raiola’s legacy is complicated, but his place on a list of best Lions draft picks, is hard to deny. It’s also hard to ignore how the center position (Travis Swanson) has struggled in Raiola’s absence.
Next: Number 23