The Detroit Lions have drafted some of the best players in NFL history. They’ve taken Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson. They made smart choices with Ndamukong Suh and Matthew Stafford. They found Hall of Fame quarterbacks (for other teams) in Y.A. Tittle and Otto Graham and they consistently found players who made strong contributions. That said, the Lions also have made some colossal mistakes in the draft.
We covered the all-time best picks by the Lions at each position on Friday. But what about the busts? What about the guys who were drafted in the first or second round with a bunch of potential, only to not follow through on any of it?
Not surprisingly for a team with only one playoff win in the Super Bowl era and no division titles since 1993, there are busts littered through Detroit’s draft history. Here are the biggest Detroit busts at almost every position:
QB: Andre Ware, Houston, 1990: The 1989 Heisman Trophy winner went at No. 7 overall. Detroit took him in the hopes he would add a passing attack to an offense that already had star running back Barry Sanders. It never happened. Ware played in 14 games over four seasons for Detroit, starting six times. He completed 83 of 161 passes for 1,112 yards, five touchdowns and eight interceptions. After the 1993 season, Ware never played in the NFL again.
RB: Leon Crosswhite, Oklahoma, 1973: The No. 44 overall pick had a good college career with almost 2,000 career yards for the Sooners. He wouldn’t come close in the NFL, appearing in 21 games over two seasons, rushing 23 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns. He was out of the NFL after the 1974 season.
WR: Charles Rogers, Michigan State, 2003: This was a close call between Rogers and Mike Williams, but Williams’ brief success in Seattle gave the final nod to Rogers. The No. 2 overall pick played in 15 games over three years (nine starts) and had 36 catches for 440 yards and four touchdowns. Consider: The Lions had four receivers with more than 440 yards last season -- let alone their whole careers. Rogers was out of the league after the 2005 season. Competition here was strong with not just Williams but Titus Young, among others.
TE: Matt Snorton, Michigan State, 1964: The No. 20 overall pick never even played for the Lions. He played for Denver in the AFL, but he appeared in only five games for the Broncos before his career ended with a torn Achilles.
OT: Aaron Gibson, Wisconsin, 1999: When they selected him at No. 27, the Lions thought they might be getting a starting tackle for the next decade. Gibson lasted less than two seasons in Detroit. He played in 16 games, starting 15 of them. However, a left shoulder injury cost him his rookie year in 1999, a right shoulder injury ended his 2000 season and he was waived midway through the 2001 season. Injuries plagued him in Dallas and Chicago afterward, including when he was listed at 400 pounds with the Cowboys in 2002. He played for teams at multiple levels of football off and on until 2010.
Interior lineman: Charley Horton, Baylor, 1959: Drafted with the No. 18 pick, he never played a down for the Lions, according to Pro Football Reference. He ended up with the Toronto Argonauts for one season, and his obituary from 2013 said he also played for Houston and Pittsburgh.
DE: Reggie Rogers, Washington, 1987: The No. 7 overall selection, Rogers played in 15 NFL games for four teams, 11 of them for the Lions. He had two career sacks. Things were worse off the field. He was convicted of negligent homicide in 1990 and sentenced to 16-to-24 months in prison, after killing three teenagers in a car accident in 1988 while he had elevated blood-alcohol content. This came after his rookie season, when he spent time in a counseling center. Rogers died in 2013 at age 49 from “combined cocaine and ethanol (alcohol) consumption,” according to a Seattle Times story at the time.
DT: Roy Williams, Pacific, 1963: The No. 27 pick in the 1963 draft, Williams played in seven career games -- with San Francisco. An injury in 1963 forced his retirement, and he became the founder of The Williams Group, a wealth transfer consulting company.
LB: Jordon Dizon, Colorado, 2008: The No. 45 pick played two seasons in the league, appearing in 28 games and making 57 tackles with one sack. He tore his left knee in a preseason game against Pittsburgh in 2010 and never played again. Dizon being a bust had more to do with injury than his on-field play, but that’s sometimes what happens with players. Dizon told Rivals.com in 2015 he tore his ACL, MCL and PCL and knew he was done playing in the league. In that same 2015 story, he said he’s now a firefighter.
CB: Kevin Abrams, Syracuse, 1997: The No. 54 pick was a dominant player for the Orangemen in college, but it never materialized in the NFL. He played in 32 games over three seasons, including 11 games over his first two seasons. He played in one game in 1999, as injuries ended his career.
S: Daniel Bullocks, Nebraska, 2006: The No. 40 pick wasn’t a bust in a truly traditional sense, because when he played, he was productive. The problem was keeping him on the field. Bullocks played two NFL seasons -- in 2006 and 2008 -- and started 22 of 31 games, making 163 tackles. But he missed 2007 with a torn ACL and had issues with his knee after that, eventually ending his career. He’s now an assistant defensive backs coach in San Francisco.
K/P: Jerry DePoyster, Wyoming, 1968: The Lions used a second-round pick -- No. 37 overall -- on DePoyster. Typically when teams draft kickers or punters high, the expectation is they’ll be around for a decade or more. DePoyster lasted one season in Detroit and played two others in Oakland. He made 3-of-15 field goals in his career and averaged 39.1 yards per punt. He was out of the league by 1973.