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Detroit Lions’ top 10 defensive players of all time
Chris Spielman is the Lions' all-time leader in tackles. (Credit: RVR Photos/USA TODAY Sports)

Detroit Lions’ top 10 defensive players of all time

DETROIT (BVM)The Detroit Lions have featured a number of all-time great defensive players over the years. Seven of the pride’s top defenders are Hall of Famers. Here are the 10 best in franchise history.

10. Bennie Blades, FS, 1988-96

The hard-hitting free safety from South Florida left his mark in Detroit. Blades is No. 2 all time in tackles for the Lions. The 6-foot, 220-pound playmaker places seventh in franchise history with nine forced fumbles. He played a big part in Detroit winning two division titles. Blades earned an All-Pro selection in 1991.

9. Richard “Night Train” Lane, DB, 1960-65

“Night Train” Lane put fear into the hearts of his opponents. Lane grabbed 21 picks during his Lions career. In addition, he scored first-team All-Pro awards in 1961 and 1962. The Night Train’s final stop would be Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

8. Chris Spielman, MLB, 1988-95

No. 54 is the all-time leader in tackles (1,138) for the Lions by a wide stretch. The Ohio native ties for third in franchise history with 17 fumble recoveries. Spielman posted four Pro Bowl seasons and a first-team All-Pro pick with Detroit.

7. Jack Christiansen, S, 1951-58

It’s no coincidence that just after Christiansen arrived, Detroit won two consecutive league crowns. The star safety picked off 46 passes, which charts him at No. 4 all time in Motown. Christiansen seized first-team All-Pro honors in six straight seasons (1952-1957) with the Lions.

6. Dick LeBeau, CB, 1959-72

LeBeau leads the franchise with 62 career INTs. To add, he’s No. 3 all-time in picks returned for a TD.  Detroit’s brilliant defensive back banked two second-team All-Pro years and three successive Pro Bowls with the pride. In 2010, LeBeau was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

5. Yale Lary, DB, 1952-64

The Lions captured three NFL championships with Lary. He racked up 50 interceptions as a Lion, which is third in team history. Lary made nine Pro Bowl teams and logged first-team All-Pro years in 1956, 1958 and 1962. He’s a Hall of Famer as well.

4. Robert Porcher, DE, 1992-2003

The South Carolina-born defensive end ranks second all-time for the franchise with 95.5 sacks. And he ranks seventh all-time in tackles. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound powerhouse adds three Pro Bowls to his resume. Porcher owns the franchise record with 18 forced fumbles.

3. Alex Karras, DT, 1958-70

“The Mad Duck” created mayhem for the opposition. Karras tops the Lions with 100 career sacks. What’s more, he sits second all-time with 18 fumble recoveries. The Honolulu Blue and silver’s Hall of Fame tackle totaled three first-team All-Pro accolades.

2. Lem Barney, CB, 1967-77

The dynamite defensive back from Jackson St. burst on the scene, taking NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He slots No. 2 in career INTs (56) for the Honolulu Blue. Barney is tied at No. 3 in fumble recoveries (17) for Detroit. Plus, he added two first-team All-Pro campaigns and seven Pro Bowl selections. In 1992, Barney got called to Canton for induction into the Hall of Fame.

1. Joe Schmidt, MLB, 1953-65

Schmidt shares third place in team history with 17 fumble recoveries. He snared 24 INTs — from the middle linebacker position. Schmidt tallied 10 Pro Bowls and paces the pride defense with eight first-team All-Pro selections.