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The Detroit Lions Best Quarterbacks of All Time

Updated on July 18, 2014

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 Lions quarterback history has been lackluster. Understandable considering their franchise 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.


#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 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.

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 struggled a bit in 2012 and 2013 he is still worthy of a spot in the top five.

He is currently at number 4 with a bullet but will have trouble surpassing the great Bobby Layne if he cannot have play-off success.


#3 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.

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.


#2 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.


#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.

Your All Time Lions QB!

Who do you think is the All-Time Lions QB

See results


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    • ArianaLove profile image


      3 years ago

      Nice article!

    • Duane Townsend profile image

      Duane Townsend 

      4 years ago from Detroit

      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 profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      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.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Stafford is just a fat Chuck Long.

    • pmarinov profile image

      Blogger at Best 

      5 years ago from Detroit MI

      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 profile image

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      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.

    • tonyfischer profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Fischer 

      6 years ago from Southeastern Michigan

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

    • michiganman567 profile image


      6 years ago from Michigan

      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.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      7 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      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 profile image


      7 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      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 profile image

      Shawn Scarborough 

      7 years ago from The Lone Star State

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

    • optimus grimlock profile image

      optimus grimlock 

      7 years ago

      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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