Ranking the greatest Detroit Lions of all time is no easy task to accomplish. From No. 1 all the way up to No. 99, I will attempt to rank the greatest Lions players for each jersey number. This list continues with my selection for the best at No. 19.
A fourth-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins in 1990, quarterback Scott Mitchell was mostly known as the backup to Dan Marino. Mitchell finally got his chance in 1993 after Marino went down with a season-ending injury. In spot duty, Mitchell won three games and lost four, throwing for 1,773 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. However, Mitchell was most famous as a member of the Lions.
Mitchell signed with the Lions for three years and $11 million. Mitchell joined a Lions offense in 1994 that featured Hall-of-Fame running back Barry Sanders and elite receivers Brett Perriman and Herman Moore. Mitchell only played in nine games that season after left tackle Lomas Brown claimed to take a dive that season, allowing Mitchell to get hurt. Dave Krieg replaced Mitchell and led the Lions to a wild card appearance.
Mitchell had the best season of his career in 1995 as he threw for 4,338 yards with 32 touchdowns to 12 interceptions under offensive coordinator Tom Moore (famous for coaching Peyton Manning in Indianapolis) and led the Lions to another wild card appearance. Against the Philadelphia Eagles in a game in which Brown famously guaranteed a victory, Mitchell threw for just 155 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions, including a pick six in a 58-37 rout.
Mitchell would again lead the Lions to the postseason in 1997, but the Lions lost once again, this time to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-10 as Mitchell threw for a mere 78 yards before being replaced by Frank Reich. Mitchell lost his job the next season to rookie Charlie Batch. Mitchell then had two backup stints with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals before retiring after the 2001 season.
While Mitchell has been constantly underrated for his years with the Lions, there have not been many Lions quarterbacks who have helped lead the team to multiple postseason berths. Although Sanders was the main reason for the Lions’ success during the 1990s, Mitchell was good enough to complement Sanders and gave the Lions a formidable offense.
Other nominees: John Jett (1997-2003), Bill Munson (1968-76)