NFL players can come from anywhere -- the Detroit Lions' roster proves that. There are several former top-rated high school recruits but also a Division II player. There is an FCS star and an NFL star who didn’t learn anything about the game until he enrolled in college.
But NFL players almost always come from college football and those college football players usually start in high school. So on national signing day, as we’ve done for the past few years, we look at where Lions players were ranked -- offensively and defensively -- before they went to college.
To do this, we used the team’s final roster and included players who were on injured reserve but not practice squad players or those who were signed to futures contracts. We looked at offensive players earlier this morning. All rankings are ESPN's unless otherwise noted.
Ezekiel Ansah (2008): Not rated by ESPN, but he had not played football before reaching BYU. He was on the Cougars’ track team and also tried out for basketball before starting to play football in 2010.
Haloti Ngata (2002): Was the top-rated defensive tackle in the country according to Rivals and the No. 2 player nationally according to Scout. He signed with Oregon.
Devin Taylor (2008): The No. 69 defensive end in his class and the No. 21 player in South Carolina. Signed with South Carolina.
Kerry Hyder (2009): Was the No. 23 inside linebacker in his class and the No. 125 player in the Midlands. Signed with Texas Tech.
Khyri Thornton (2008): Was the No. 20 defensive tackle in his class and No. 146 player in the Southeast. Went to Hargrave Military Academy and ended up at Southern Miss.
Tyrunn Walker (2008): Was not rated by ESPN or Rivals. Went to junior college and then on to Tulsa.
Brandon Copeland (2009): Was not rated as a defensive tackle by ESPN and a two-star recruit by Rivals. Played at the University of Pennsylvania.
Anthony Zettel (2011): He was the No. 11 offensive guard and No. 12 player in his region according to ESPN and the No. 6 defensive end and No. 65 player in the country from Rivals. He went to Penn State.
A’Shawn Robinson (2013): He was the No. 11 defensive tackle and No. 105 player in his class according to ESPN and the No. 4 defensive tackle and No. 33 player overall by Rivals. He went to Alabama.
Stefan Charles (2009): Charles, who played college football in Canada at Regina, was not rated by Rivals or ESPN when he came out of high school.
DeAndre Levy (2005): The No. 49 outside linebacker and No. 4 player in Wisconsin by Rivals.com. Signed with Wisconsin.
Tahir Whitehead (2008): Not ranked as a safety out of high school. Signed with Temple.
Josh Bynes (2007): Was rated as the No. 27 inside linebacker in his class. Signed with Auburn.
Thurston Armbrister (2011): He was an unranked athlete by ESPN and an unranked safety by Rivals. He went to Miami.
Antwione Williams (2011): He was not listed in ESPN’s database and was an unranked safety in the Rivals database. He went to Georgia Southern.
Jon Bostic (2009): He was the No. 8 outside linebacker and No. 108 player overall in his class by ESPN and the No. 4 inside linebacker and No. 64 player overall by Rivals. He went to Florida.
Glover Quin (2006): Not rated out of Southwest Mississippi Community College. Signed with New Mexico.
Darius Slay (2009): The No. 109 safety and No. 76 player in Georgia. Signed with Mississippi State in 2009, went to Itawamba Community College and re-signed with Mississippi State in 2011.
Don Carey (2005): Not rated as a safety by Rivals.com. Signed with Norfolk State.
Nevin Lawson (2010): Not rated by ESPN and a two-star recruit by Rivals.com. Signed with Utah State.
Crezdon Butler (2006): Was the No. 34 cornerback in his class by ESPN and the No. 14 corner in his class from Rivals. Also was the No. 5 player in North Carolina, according to Rivals. Went to Clemson.
Quandre Diggs (2011): Was the top-rated corner in the country by ESPN and the No. 21 player in the nation. Also was the No. 3 player in the state of Texas. Signed with Texas.
Alex Carter (2012): Was the No. 11 athlete in his class and the No. 111 overall player. Also was the No. 3 player in Virginia. Signed with Stanford.
Johnson Bademosi (2008): He was an unranked safety by both ESPN and Rivals. He went to Stanford.
Adairius Barnes (2012): He was the No. 70 athlete and No. 12 player in Mississippi according to ESPN and the No. 20 player in Mississippi according to Rivals. He went to Louisiana Tech.
Rafael Bush: He was unranked by Rivals or ESPN. He played college football at South Carolina State.
Miles Killebrew (2011): He was not in the ESPN database and an unranked cornerback in the Rivals database. He went to Southern Utah.
Tavon Wilson (2008): He was the No. 29 cornerback according to ESPN and the No. 60 corner by Rivals. He went to Illinois.
Asa Jackson (2008): He was an unranked quarterback according to ESPN and played at Cal Poly.
Ian Wells (2011): He was the No. 118 cornerback according to ESPN and unranked by Rivals. He went to Ohio.
Sam Martin (2008): Planned on playing college soccer. Signed with Appalachian State for football.
Don Muhlbach (1999): Signed with Texas A&M. Not rated.
Matt Prater (2002): A two-star recruit by Rivals.com, he signed with UCF.
Jimmy Landes (2011): He walked on to Baylor’s football team and also played baseball at the school.