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. 26.
One of Jim Schwartz‘s first draft picks in 2009, safety Louis Delmas was a physical presence for Detroit for five seasons. While Delmas was a thumper in the secondary, he was also was hit hard by injuries and inconsistency in Detroit.
From Western Michigan, Delmas was drafted by Detroit one year after the debacle that was the 0-16 Lions in 2008. Perhaps the worst defensive team of all-time that year, the Lions constantly gave up big plays in the passing game and were overwhelmed every week. With Delmas in tow, the Lions’ defense became respectable and then became good with players like Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and DeAndre Levy surrounding Delmas.
As a rookie in 2009, Delmas became the first rookie in NFL history to score points on an interception return, fumble return and also a safety, the second time someone of any experience level ever accomplished that feat. Delmas won the Rookie of the Month award for September. Delmas returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown in Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints and had a 101-yard interception return later that season.
In both 2010 and 2011, Delmas would earn Pro Bowl alternate honors, but never played in the game. In Delmas’ five seasons, the Lions made the postseason only once in 2011 despite being injured for five games. In the wild card game against New Orleans, Delmas and the Lions held a 14-10 halftime, but the defense melted down and gave up 35 second-half points in a 45-28 blowout loss. Delmas and the secondary gave up 466 passing yards and three touchdowns to Drew Brees. Delmas would record 10 tackles in the game.
As the Lions digressed in 2012 and 2013, so too did Delmas. He missed eight games in 2012, a 4-12 campaign; and in 2013, despite playing all 16 games, Delmas’ inconsistency would be a factor in Detroit’s monumental second-half collapse.
Delmas will now be part of the Miami Dolphins this year as he was released by Detroit this offseason because he was a salary cap casualty. Overall, Delmas had his moments early on in his career, but when the going got tough for Detroit, the Lions and Delmas came up short.
Other nominees: Dick Jauron (1973-77), Kenoy Kennedy (2005-07)
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