By Brian Kalchik @RantsportsBrian on June 4, 2014
Ranking the best NFL centers of all-time is something that many have done, but few agree upon. The criteria used by different people could include on-the-field achievement, positional rankings, or even success in the postseason. When I evaluated the best Detroit Lions centers in team history, it is clear to see why the Lions have had a great history at the position. Here now are my five greatest centers in Lions history.
As Matt Millen's second pick in his first year as GM, Dominic Raiola has had a pretty good career despite not much team success. Since being a backup as a rookie, Raiola has only missed four games in the past 12 seasons. In both 2002 and 2003, Raiola helped the team's offensive line set single-season records for fewest sacks allowed with 20 in 2002 and 11 in 2003. Raiola is expected to be the starter again to begin the 2014 season.
As part of the famed 1953 draft class, Charlie Ane was a major contributor on two of Detroit's championship teams in the 1950s. Ane was a versatile offensive lineman who split time between right tackle and center. He made the Pro Bowl in both 1956 and 1958 as a center, and spent his entire seven-year career with the Lions. Ane only missed one game in his NFL career.
Ed Flanagan was one of the NFL's best centers during his 10-year career. He was the team’s fifth-round pick in the 1965 draft. He became the starter as a rookie and started the next 139 of the team’s 140 games at center. Flanagan was also the Lions’ co-captain from 1969-74 and was selected to play in four Pro Bowls (1970-72, ‘74). He alsoed help the Lions make the postseason in 1970.
Kevin Glover was drafted by the Lions in the second round of the 1985 draft. He would not become a starter until 1987 as the starting at right guard. In 1988, he started at left guard, then in 1989, he started at center. As the replacement for Steve Mott, Glover remained as the starting center for nine seasons. He was named to the Pro Bowl three straight times from 1995-97 and blocked for Barry Sanders from 1989-97.
Alex Wojciechowicz was the Lions’ first-round draft choice in 1938, and claimed the starting center position in his very first game as a pro. Throughout his career with the Lions, he was one of the few bright spots on some of the poorest teams in franchise history. Wojciechowicz starred on both sides of the ball at center and linebacker. As one of the greatest two-way players in NFL history, Wojciechowicz was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1968.
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