Best Tigers to Play in the NFL – Number 5: Justin Smith
NFL Defensive End from 2001-2014
Justin Smith is one of the more recent guys to play in the league on this list, as his final year in the NFL was in 2014. He spent 14 seasons in the NFL and was with only two teams during that time.
Smith was a first round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2001 NFL Draft and he went on to spend seven years there. The Bengals were never particularly good during that time, but Smith always seemed proud to play there.
From 2002-2011, Smith didn’t miss a single start, which showed how durable and reliable he was for a long portion of his career.
After seven years in Ohio, Smith moved on to San Francisco, where he spent the final seven years of his career.
Smith got to play in a Super Bowl during the 2012 season with the Niners, where they ultimately fell short to the Baltimore Ravens.
From 2002-2011, Smith didn’t miss a single start, which showed how durable and reliable he was for a long portion of his career. Aside from the 11 starts he had his rookie year, the next fewest he ever had in a season was 14 in 2012. Other than that, he started every single game for his team.
Smith finished his career with 613 tackles, 87 sacks, 30 defended passes, 16 forced fumbles (ten recovered), and three interceptions. He was a five-time Pro Bowler.
Justin Smith no doubt deserves a spot on this list, as he was one of the most reliable guys in all of the National Football League. His long career mixed in with the few games he missed merits him as one of the five best Mizzou alum to play in the pros.