NFL players, it has long been established, can come from anywhere. The Detroit Lions roster proves that. There’s the top-rated high school recruit and the Division II player. There’s the FCS star and the NFL star who didn’t learn anything about the game until he enrolled in college.
But more often than not, NFL players come from college football and those college football players start in high school. So on national signing day, as we’ve done the last few years, we look at where the Lions players were ranked -- offensively and defensively -- when they went to college.
To do this, we used the team’s final roster and included players who are on injured reserve, but not practice squad players or those who were signed to futures contracts. This post has the offense, while the defense will post shortly.
Matthew Stafford (Class of 2006): No. 1 quarterback; No. 5 overall player. Signed with Georgia.
Dan Orlovsky (2001): The Hartford Courant reported at the time of Orlovsky’s commitment he was a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. He signed with Connecticut.
Jake Rudock (2011): The No. 24 quarterback and No. 187 player in his region according to ESPN. He was the No. 29 quarterback according to Rivals. He committed to Iowa.
Joique Bell (2005): Not listed in Rivals rankings for 2005. Signed with Wayne State.
Ameer Abdullah (2011): No. 128 running back, No. 531 player in the Southeast in 2011. Rivals had him as the No. 17 athlete and No. 9 player in Alabama. Signed with Nebraska.
Theo Riddick (2009): No. 48 athlete; No. 65 player in the northeast region.
Zach Zenner (2010): In the ESPN database but not rated. Signed with South Dakota State.
Michael Burton (2010): Not in the ESPN database. Not ranked as an inside linebacker in the Rivals database. Walked on at Rutgers.
Dwayne Washington (2012): He was the No. 84 wide receiver and No. 63 player in California according to ESPN and a three-star prospect by Rivals. He committed to Washington.
Golden Tate (2007): The No. 2 wide receiver and No. 11 overall prospect in his class. He signed with Notre Dame.
TJ Jones (2010): No. 10 wide receiver and No. 68 player overall. Signed with Notre Dame.
Marvin Jones (2008): The No. 36 receiver in his class by ESPN. He was the No. 22 player at his position and in California by Rivals and the No. 168 player overall. He committed to California.
Anquan Boldin (1999): He was the No. 1 prospect in the country by SuperPrep and the No. 7 prospect in the country by Tom Lemming according to Warchant. He attended Florida State.
Jace Billingsley (2012): He was not ranked by ESPN or Rivals when he attended Eastern Oregon.
Andre Roberts (2005): He was not listed in the Rivals database. He attended The Citadel.
Ryan Spadola (2009): He was the No. 183 wide receiver and No. 339 player in his region according to ESPN. He attended Lehigh.
Eric Ebron (2011): He was the No. 8 tight end in his class. He signed with North Carolina.
Clay Harbor (2006): He was not rated by ESPN or Rivals. He attended Missouri State.
Matthew Mulligan: He did not play football in high school and went to Division III Husson College before transferring to Maine.
Tim Wright (2008): He was the No. 67 safety in his class by ESPN and the No. 42 athlete in his class from Rivals. He signed with Rutgers.
Riley Reiff (2008): Was the No. 84 defensive end in his class. Signed with Iowa.
Larry Warford (2009): The No. 51 guard in his class. Signed with Kentucky.
Cornelius Lucas (2009): He was unrated by ESPN in 2009. He was a two-star recruit by Rivals.com and the No. 52 player in Louisiana.
Travis Swanson (2009): He was the No. 91 guard in his class and the No. 199 player in the Midlands. Signed with Arkansas.
Laken Tomlinson (2010): Rated as the No. 65 offensive guard. Signed with Duke.
Corey Robinson (2010): Rated as the No. 56 offensive guard in his class. Signed with South Carolina.
Graham Glasgow (2011): He was rated as the No. 216 offensive tackle in his class by ESPN. He attended Michigan, first as a walk-on.
Joe Dahl (2011): He tied with Glasgow as the No. 216 offensive tackle in his class by ESPN and an unrated defensive end on Rivals. He attended Montana before transferring to Washington State.
Garrett Reynolds (2005): He was the No. 51 offensive tackle and No. 12 player in Tennessee according to Rivals. He signed with North Carolina.
Taylor Decker (2012): He was the No. 63 offensive tackle in his class and No. 28 player in Ohio according to ESPN. He was the No. 23 tackle, No. 14 player in Ohio and No. 221 player overall by Rivals. He signed with Ohio State.