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The Detroit Lions Best Quarterbacks of All Time

Former writer and editor of the fansided network, Tony looks at the best of the best in Detroit Sports.

Forward Down the Field!


Yes, Mitchell is in the Top 5.

Here is a list of the top five Detroit Lions quarterbacks of All-Time. This list considers on-the-field achievement, statistical rankings and playoff success. Detroit's quarterback history has been lackluster. Understandable considering playoff history.

Much of that history can be explained by the inconsistent play at the quarterback position. That said, each of the QB’s on the list contributed to winning seasons and at times record setting seasons. Hopefully it puts into perspective the tremendous upside of the current Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford.

Don't hate the player...Scott Mitchell deserves to be on this list.

Don't hate the player...Scott Mitchell deserves to be on this list.

#5 Scott Mitchell, 1995-1997

Although Scott Mitchell was a colossal failure in the play-offs, he did turn in one of the most productive seasons for a lions QB. In 1995 Mitchell passed for 4338 yards leading the Detroit Lions to a 10-6 record.

Would it surprise you to learn that the 1995 offense was among the best in Lions history? Not since Bobby Layne was a Lions QB been so dominate when Scott Mitchell led the Lions to a #4 offensive ranking in 1997.

It may also surprise you to learn that during his short time with the Lions, Mitchell was able to throw for 12,647 yards and 79 touchdowns ranking him 3rd and 4th respectively among Detroit Lions franchise leaders.

We all remember how he helped the Eagles rip out guts of the Lion's faithful in the play-offs but sadly he still deserves to be on this list

#4 Erik Kramer, 1991-1993

When the former Viking QB came to town it generated a collective yawn from the fan base. But Kramer won the fans over by showing good leadership. After surviving a QB controversy, he led the Lions to a 12-4 record and their first play-off win in decades. It would be decades more before we see another.

12 wins in a season stands as a franchise best to this day. Based on the history of this franchise that qualifies him for Hall of Fame status.

Kramers short career with the Lions is barely a memory in the mind of the Lions fan. Well Kramer I want to thank you for that gutty playoff win. I was there to see it; hopefully we see another one soon.

Kramer did what Stafford could never do in a playoff game.

Kramer did what Stafford could never do in a playoff game.

#3 Greg Landry, 1970 to 1972

In 1971 and '72, Greg Landry led the Lions in two winning seasons. Although it did not result in playoff appearances, Landry led an offense that was ranked #3 and #6 respectively.

The 1970 season was his best with the Lions with a 10-4 record and a playoff loss against America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys. Landry's Lions career numbers stack up to be one of the franchises best at Quarterback.

Landry's 12,541 passing yards ranks him 4th on the Lions All-time passing list and his 80 passing touchdowns ranks him second only to the Hall of Famer, Bobby Layne.

Landry could be #2 on the list if he was able to get a play-off win. Hopefully, Jared Goff will be able to do what Stafford has not.

Greg Lanudry could have done more with time.

Greg Lanudry could have done more with time.

#2 Matthew Stafford, 2009 to current

2011 stands as Mathew Stafford's career year amassing over 5,000 passing yards and 41 TDs during the regular season. A season that would have been a league best if not for the record setting efforts of Drew Brees.

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Staffords on-field chemistry with receiving phenom Calvin Johnson paid dividends for a Lions offense that was among the league leaders in scoring in 2011. This offensive prowess led Detroit to it's first play-off game since 1999.

Stafford also set club records for passing surpassing the great offensive seasons of Scott Mitchell, #5 on this list. In fact, Stafford has posted the top three best passing seasons for a QB in franchise history.

Although Stafford has definately struggled toward the end of his career, he still leads the Lion's Quarterbacks in all catagories.

Despite his statisitc dominance, Stafford failed to get his team to the Superbowl during his tenure as Detroit's field General. He also consitently struggled in "big games" in Detroit. For this reason he falls behind the great Bobby Layne.


#1 Bobby Layne, 1950-1957

Bobby Layne was one of the best quarterbacks in the league at the time. The Hall of Famer brought Detroit 2 pre-superbowl league championships and had a playoff record of 3-1.

Bobby Laynes 15,710 passing yards ranks second and 118 passing touchdowns ranks 1st among Detroit Lions quarterbacks all-time. After his Lions career Booby Layne went on to play for three other teams amassing 26,768 passing yards in his Hall of Fame career.

After his departure the Lions have been unable to have playoff success and have never won a super-bowl. Some say the curse of Bobby Layne has kept the Lions from a pro-football championship. That said, Bobby is the poster boy for a proud Lions football past and a reminder of what can be again.

The Curse of Bobby Layne Explained

Your All Time Lions QB!

Check the Stats Yourself



ArianaLove on November 28, 2015:

Nice article!

Duane Townsend from Detroit on October 19, 2014:

Not Scott Mitchell...definitely not Scott Mitchell.

Bobby Layne definitely... I'd follow that with Stafford and Erik Kramer, then Mitchell.

Nice article though.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on October 16, 2014:

A lot of people don't realize that during pre-Super Bowl history, Detroit had some decent teams.

I'm not a Lions fan, but I was a huge Barry Sanders fan. I have some familiarity with a lot of these guys. Mitchell looked the part, but save a few bright moments, he really didn't get it done.

Erik Kramer had a decent head on his shoulders, but didn't wow anybody in the athleticism category.

Dave Krieg had a stellar career, but he really didn't spend much of it in Detroit. Rodney Peete was just OK at times. There have been a lot of hopefuls, but really not much accomplished.

Stafford may end up being the best. Needs to go to the playoffs a few more times.

Great read.

Sonic on September 18, 2014:

Stafford is just a fat Chuck Long.

Blogger at Best from Detroit MI on December 18, 2013:

I like the post sad not to see Joey Harrington lol, But Stafford is slowly creeping up in the standings. With guns like Bush, and Johnson, Stafford will most likely lead in all QC categories one day!

Great Post Go Lions!!!

EJ Lambert from Chicago, IL on May 30, 2013:

I don't know how Layne can't be number one. He was a winner the whole way, a great leader and had a knack for big comebacks. It was the biggest mistake in franchise history letting him walk out the door.

Tony Fischer (author) from Southeastern Michigan on January 16, 2013:

Michiganman567 thanks for commenting. 2013 is going to be a key year in Stafford's career.

Dave Smith from Michigan on January 15, 2013:

Im still not sold on Stafford. He keeps throwing off of his back foot. If he doesn't have the drive to improve, then I don't think that he is going to live up to the hype.

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on December 10, 2011:

i've been a lifelong seahawks fan so I applaud your loyalty to the sorry Lions. I was rooting for them this year, but they seem to be falling apart. Good hub!

Bigpayno from Indianapolis, Indiana on November 22, 2011:

Great call on Bobby Lane. Hopefully Stafford will one day take over the top spot on this list. He has to stay healthy. Looking forward to watching the game on Thanksgiving!

Shawn Scarborough from The Lone Star State on November 22, 2011:

Bobby Lane was definitely the best Lions quarterback. Nice Hub!

optimus grimlock on November 22, 2011:

Nice list I think kramer and mitchell deserve to be on your list. Stafford should be number 2 on there alltime list but he has to stay healthy to do so!

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