The offseason is the prime season in the NFL for ratings, rankings and projections, and this year's offerings provide ample fodder for comparisons and debates.
Detroit Lions fans, and an occasional player, have taken exception to some of the lists and rankings that have been put out.
Following are six lists that include the Lions' best 11 players and head coach of all time, the all-time ranking of defensive tackles – where the Lions are well represented – and the top five receiving corps. The Lions came up empty-handed on that one.
There's also the rankings of the 2018 head coaches (cover your eyes, Matt Patricia), a projection for the next Lion to make his first Pro Bowl, and a puzzling Madden 19 rating for Matthew Stafford compared to one of his peers.
Here are the lists and rankings, with commentary – of course.
1. All-time top 11 players, plus coach.
NFL.com put out this for all 32 franchises, regardless of position. The Lions' top 11 in order, as follows: 1 Barry Sanders; 2. Bobby Layne; 3. Calvin Johnson; 4. Night Train Lane; 5. Doak Walker; 6. Billy Sims; 7. Herman Moore; 8. Matthew Stafford; 9. Lem Barney; 10 Joe Schmidt; 11. Dick LeBeau; Coach: Buddy Parker.
Bottom line: Four thoughts, as follows:
1. Two changes: I'd sub defensive tackle Roger Brown for Doak Walker and Yale Lary for Dick LeBeau. Brown was recognized as the NFL's first big, quick defensive tackle. Lary was simply better than LeBeau, and an all-time great punter.
2. Joe Schmidt: He would be in my top three with Sanders and Layne. Barry is the greatest player in franchise history, but Schmidt is the greatest Lion because of double duty. He also was a winning head coach. It's a fair argument for those who disagree.
3. Moore/Sims: Good to see both recognized as two of the three players on NFL.com's list who are not in the Hall of Fame. Neither is Johnson. Sims was a great, great runner, and a downfield receiver. He averaged 11.1 yards per catch for his career, with a high of 16.1 yards in 1981.
Moore set franchise and league records despite never playing with a Pro Bowl quarterback, and also playing with Sanders, who was always the No. 1 option on offense. All factors considered, an argument can be made that Herman Moore is the greatest receiver in franchise history. It's an argument for another day.
4. Buddy Parker: His accomplishments in turning losers into winners with the Lions and Steelers warrant a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
2. First Pro Bowl: Choice -- LB Jarrad Davis: By renowned Cowboys super scout Gil Brandt.
One player was picked for each team for his first Pro Bowl. Obviously, that rules out Ziggy Ansah, Matthew Stafford, Darius Slay, Matt Prater, Don Muhlbach, Glover Quin and T.J. Lang. All have made the Pro Bowl.
Bottom line: Davis is a good choice. Patricia's defensive scheme should enable Davis to make more plays.
Alternate choice – OT Taylor Decker: If the running game picks up, and quarterback sacks are reduced from the 47 allowed last year, a lot of credit will go to the offensive line. That would make Decker a Pro Bowl candidate. In a good season, with a playoff berth, Davis and Decker could both make it.
3. Ranking head coaches, 1-32.
Matt Patricia, 32nd. By the Sporting News.
Bottom line: Alone in last place? Seriously?
There's a rather airy explanation on how not to take Patricia's ranking seriously, but the bottom line is that he's at the bottom. That puts him three notches below No. 29 Hue Jackson, whose two-year record as head coach of the Browns is 1-31 – the worst two-year record in NFL history.
Two other new head coach hires this year are ranked below Jackson – Pat Shurmur (Giants) 30, and Mike Vrabel (Titans) 31.
No problem if all first-year head coaches were ranked together, including Shurmur, who had a 9-23 record in 2011-12 as head coach of the Browns, and Jon Gruden, who's back on the sideline as head coach of the Raiders.
4. Top five receiver corps.
Golden Tate took offense on Twitter when Bucky Brooks did not include the Lions in his top five in a column on NFL.com.
"Who's doing the voting?" Tate tweeted.
Well, it was one man, one vote. Brooks' top five: Vikings, Falcons, Steelers, Chiefs, Browns.
Bottom line: Good that Tate took it seriously. He's a competitive player, even in practice. But the Lions' omission is understandable under the bounds of Brooks' formula.
He included tight ends in his "receiving corps," and that's a position in the Lions' offense that has yet to be defined.
The Lions were the only team last season that had two wide receivers with at least 1,000 receiving yards – Marvin Jones Jr. (1,101) and Tate (1,004), but the Chiefs and Patriots both had a receiver-tight end duo that did it.
5. Top 31 defensive tackles of all time.
Another offering from Gil Brandt, and the Lions scored high.
Alex Karras, a Lion from 1958-70, was 27th. Roger Brown, a Lion from 1960-66 in his 10-year career, was No 10. Two others who spent part of their careers in Detroit made the list. Haloti Ngata, oft injured the last three seasons, is No. 27. Hall of Famer Curley Culp, who played five games in two seasons with the Lions at the end of a 14-year career, was No. 9.
Bottom line I: Roger Brown's ranking reinforces my belief that he should be in the Hall of Fame, even ahead of Alex Karras.
Bottom line II: Aaron Donald of the Rams is the highest ranked active player at No. 12. Donald's new teammate, Ndamukong Suh, did not make the list.
6. Mad over Madden.
There was some local outrage with the revelation that Matthew Stafford has a rating of 82 for the iconic video game Madden 19, and Colts QB Andrew Luck's is 86.
Stafford has started every game for the last seven seasons, and 2017 was one of his best. He was third in passing yards, sixth among qualified quarterbacks in passer rating and fourth in TD passes.
Luck was nowhere in the 2017 rankings because he missed all of the season with an injury. Hence the outrage, at some level.
Bottom line: Luck is a top-tier quarterback when healthy – which apparently he is, based on the limited information that has come out of the Colts' offseason workouts. Stafford is a top tier quarterback who stays healthy.
That's good enough.