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Does your football team suck? I’m a Patriots fan, so my team doesn’t, but don’t worry, I’ve been in your shoes before. Remember, in the 90’s, Boston fans were just a bunch of miserable losers. You hang on to hope until you hear that tragic death sentence: “mathematically eliminated.” You love the draft because your team finally gets to be number 1. You go to church and pray for the starting QB to get hurt, because it can’t get any worse. They’re down 21-0 at halftime and you start rooting for the other team. You tape your Drew Bledsoe poster to your dart board. Your head coach refers to your top wide receiver as “she”. You say, “I swear on everything holy, if he says Ben “Winter” Coates one more time, I’m going to go down to Bristol and strangle him with my bare hands!” They let Curtis Martin go to the Jets?!?!? Yes, I have felt your pain.
Well, congratulations, because now I’m taking control of every NFL franchise and the first thing I’m going to do is start from scratch. You often hear talk of “if you could start an NFL franchise with one player…” So, I’m going to do the first round of a Madden-style fantasy draft. I took into account talent, potential and age, as if we were resetting every NFL team, starting right now. This is basically just taking the top 32 players in the NFL that you would want right now and into the future to make a winning team.
Of course, there is the great argument to be made about which position you would take first. Is quarterback really the most important position, or is it about the offensive line or receivers? Is it more important to have the stud defender, or the team guy who will be a leader? Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? Is a running back the product of his blockers, or does a great back just make his line look good? It’s all here.
Note: I reversed the order of the standings this year for a draft order. Not that it really matters, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to make Dolphins fans feel a little better about themselves.
With the 1st pick, the Miami Dolphins select:
Tom Brady, Quarterback
The knock against Brady for years has been that he doesn’t put up big stats. Well, the critics have been silenced this year. Brady leads the league in passing by over 300 yards and is on the verge of breaking Peyton Manning’s single-season passing TD mark. You can say it’s all because of Moss or Welker, but Tom Terrific’s Pats have won 3 Super Bowls with Brady under center and Moss and Welker watching on TV. If you want to win championships, Brady has to be your first choice.
With the 2nd pick, the Atlanta Falcons select:
Peyton Manning, Quarterback
Manning finally got the Super Bowl monkey off his back last year and is in the clear to do his thing and shoot right up the list of best QB’s to ever play the game. At 31, he’s actually the oldest guy on the list, but Peyton should still have at least 5-6 great years left in him. If he’s available at number 2, there’s really no other option.
With the 3rd pick, the St. Louis Rams select:
Adrian Peterson, Running Back
Now that the two no-brainers are off the board, we run into some difficult decisions. The only reason not to believe Peterson is the best back in the NFL at age 22 is his health concerns. Adrian Peterson has a mix of power and speed that we have never seen before. His pass protection needs to improve a little bit, but he’s such a good runner that he still goes this high.
With the 4th pick, the New York Jets select:
LaDanian Tomlinson, Running Back
LT is going to go down as an all-time great back, and he still has enough years left in him to earn a top-five pick. He has carried his Chargers this year with Philip Rivers struggling, and will produce regardless of who he’s playing with. He’s more of a sure-thing than Peterson, but is getting older at 28, and doesn’t have as bright a future as AP.
With the 5th pick, the Oakland Raiders select:
Bob Sanders, Safety
Sanders is a leader and a playmaker on defense. He’s young and energetic, and can pack a punch behind that 5’8” frame. Without Sanders, the Colts' defense is mediocre at best, but with Sanders in there, they become a top notch NFL D. He’s the top defender in the NFL and is only 26, so he has plenty of years left.
With the 6th pick, the Kansas City Chiefs select:
Patrick Willis, Linebacker
Look out Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, because Patrick Willis is out for the crown. Willis is a ball hawk with a league leading 162 tackles, and he’s only a rookie.
With the 7th pick, the Baltimore Ravens select:
Mario Williams, Defensive End
WHAT? Over Reggie Bush? Yeah, maybe the Texans weren’t that dumb after all. Super Mario has become a beast and is already one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
With the 8th pick, the San Francisco 49ers select:
DeMarcus Ware, Linebacker
Ware is a Lawrence Taylor type player who can disrupt any passing attack. Tell your left tackle to hit the weight room if you’ve got Ware’s team on the schedule.
With the 9th pick, the Carolina Panthers select:
Shawne Merriman, Linebacker
This is a fiery character who will lead his team. Merriman is a young guy who will be in this league many yeas to come. Carolina is getting a long-term playmaker here.
With the 10th pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select:
Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver
Sure, they say you need a quarterback before you make a great receiver, but Fitzgerald has gotten it done in Arizona. I could throw the ball in his direction and he’d find a way to get it. Big, physical and young; the total package.
With the 11th pick, the Denver Broncos select:
Braylon Edwards, Wide Receiver
Edwards finally broke out in 2007 with Derek Anderson getting him the ball. He’s another big guy who can go up and get the ball. Edwards and Fitz are going to be the class of NFL receivers for a long, long time.
With the 12th pick, the Chicago Bears select:
Troy Polamalu, Safety
Here’s another guy who can roam around the field and make big plays regularly. Polamalu is a leader and still has lots of football left.
With the 13th pick, the Detroit Lions select:
Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback
Once thought to be just a game manager who couldn’t carry a team, Big Ben has stepped up and proven that he is a leader and would be the cream of the NFL crop if it weren’t for two other QBs…
With the 14th pick, the Arizona Cardinals select:
Joseph Addai, Running Back
Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, now Joseph Addai. Addai has continued the tradition of excellent Indy backs, becoming a beast this season (and carrying my AGM fantasy team to the finals). In only his second season, he is arguably the 3rd best back in the NFL right now.
With the 15th pick, the Houston Texans select:
Lofa Tatupu, Linebacker
The son of Mosi Tatupu is the kind of guy who can take over a game. He’s a ball hawk and a leader in only his second year. When Mosi was in New England, his followers were called “Mosi’s Mooses”. Perhaps Lofa’s fans in Houston will call themselves “Lofa’s Leather Cowboy Boots”.
With the 17th pick, the New Orleans Saints select:
DeMeco Ryans, Linebacker
This guy has really emerged this season. He’ll be an excellent player in the league for years to come, and a solid choice to start your defense with.
With the 18th pick, the Philadelphia Eagles select:
Marion Barber III, Running Back
His stats don’t even begin to tell the story of how good this guy is. He’s had to split carries with Julius Jones his whole career, but given the chance, Barber would be a top 3-5 back in the NFL. He’s fast and powerful and can carry the load as a workhorse.
With the 19th pick, the Washington Redskins select:
Tony Romo, Quarterback
With the good quarterbacks coming of the board fast, Washington had to go with Romo here. Sure, he’s had his share of growing pains, but Romo will be a great QB in the league for many more years. He won’t quite be Brett Favre, but he’ll be similar.
With the 20th pick, the Minnesota Vikings select:
Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback
Cromartie is the first corner off the board. He’s one of those rare guys who can shut down his entire half of the field, and gets the nod as the top CB because of his youth.
With the 21st pick, the Cleveland Browns select:
Albert Haynesworth, Defensive Tackle
Cleveland hasn’t had a great defense in years, so this is a good way for them to mix it up a little. Fat Albert is a dominant presence in the middle and would’ve been gone sooner if it weren’t for some character issues.
With the 22nd pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select:
Steve Hutchinson, Offensive Guard
This may seem like a strange pick to be the first offensive lineman, but Hutchinson is the best guard in the NFL and nobody has a track record like this guy. Until this year, Hutchinson has had a 1500+ yard rusher every year of his career. If you want to build a good running game, there’s no better place to start than with this guy.
With the 23rd pick, the Tennessee Titans select:
Carson Palmer, Quarterback
If you want the third best pure passer in the NFL, than look no further than Palmer. The only problem is that he’s never really been a winner or a proven leader. However, with an arm like that, you can’t pass him up this late.
With the 24th pick, the New York Giants select:
Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver
Andre Johnson has become a beast in the NFL with guys like David Carr and Matt Schaub throwing him the ball. Get him a halfway decent quarterback, and watch him become the best receiver in the league.
With the 25th pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers select:
A.J. Hawk, Linebacker
Hawk has developed into a great player, but he’s done it alongside Nick Barnett. Hopefully, without Barnett, Hawk would still be able to be great. My guess is he would do just fine.
With the 26th pick, the Seattle Seahawks select:
Marshawn Lynch, Running Back
In his rookie year, Lynch has proven that he has what it takes to play at a high level for a long time. I’d want him on my team.
With the 27th pick, the San Diego Chargers select:
Willie Parker, Running Back
Fast Willie has become a premier player, and is still young at 27. He makes big plays and would be a great asset to any system.
With the 28th pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars select:
Joe Thomas, Offensive Tackle
Thomas has done a great job protecting Derek Anderson this year. If offensive linemen put fans in the seats, this guy would skyrocket up the board.
With the 29th pick, the Green Bay Packers select:
Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver
Johnson is big and fast and will make plays. Get him on top of a depth chart and throw him the ball as much as possible. Calvin Johnson still has potential to become an all-time wideout.
With the 30th pick, the Dallas Cowboys select:
Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver
With Marvin Harrison out, Reggie Wayne has proven this season that he can be a stand out player on his own. Sure you can say it’s all Peyton, but I’ve seen Wayne make some circus catches that not just anybody could make.
With the 31st pick, the Indianapolis Colts select:
Ernie Sims, Linebacker
Sims has had a fantastic rookie year. He got snubbed from the Pro Bowl this season, but he’s going to be a fixture in the NFL in years to come, mark my words.
With the 32nd pick, the New England Patriots select:
Brian Westbrook, Running Back
If utilized properly, this guy can be one of the best weapons in the NFL. He can do so much more than just line up in the backfield and carry the rock.
Brandon Marshall, Tommie Harris, Vince Wilfork, DeAngelo Hall, LaRon Landry, Jared Allen, Maurice Jones-Drew, Brian Urlacher, Derek Anderson, Laurence Maroney, Asante Samuel, Logan Mankins, Dwayne Bowe, Vince Young, Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Jammal Brown, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, James Harrison, Kerry Rhodes, Kellen Winslow, David Garrard
So there you have the top 32 players you’d want to start a franchise with, plus a few more. I don’t blame you if you didn’t read them all, but if you did, then you da man. Now go ahead and tell me how retarded I am and how much my rankings suck. Go on, I can take it.