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If I were to build a NFL team...

Updated on July 23, 2014

Let Me Explain...

This is not an "All-Star Roster", this is simply a list of players that I would put on my team if I were building a franchise today.
Just a fun fluff piece, feel free to list your own.

The Strategy...

Offensively, I'd like to run something between what Chip Kelly's Eagles and Peyton Manning's Broncos ran in 2013.
I believe that the Pistol is actually a passing formation that has been mostly misused as a running gimmick, and the play action opportunities are endless. However, I wouldn't leave the classic formations out either.
As much as I love the no-huddle, play action spread offense, I still believe there is a place in the NFL for the old fashion ground and pound power-run game.
I can't think of a coach in the NFL who runs a team like this. I almost want to cheat and say that Peyton Manning could be my head coach, because he might be the only guy in the league who would get it right.
Give me a no-huddle passing game with complicated routes and audibles at Chip Kelly's pace, toss in some trick plays (the double-pass), a few screens, and tons of running plays inside the tackles.
Possible Coaches-
Peyton Manning. Andy Reid. Chip Kelly. Norv Turner. Marc Trestman.


Defensively, it's pretty simple. I like a big defensive line. Give me two gap fillers in the middle and talented edge rushers on the outside in a 4-3 set. Big imposing corners in a press-man with the safeties high. The linebackers occasionally blitz but mostly operate out of a zone, designed to contain the run and take away the middle of the field. I know, I know, that's a big risk, big reward strategy. But if ran properly by the right personnel, that's a stifling philosophy.If you can control the line of scrimmage, you can take away the run and the passer.
Possible Coaches-
Dennis Allen. Bill Belichick. Pete Carroll.

Punter- Shane Lechler

I know, he's getting up there in years, but he's still got a great leg, and he is fully capable of pinning the ball in the red zone.
Originally, I wanted to put Kluwe in this spot because I find him to be hilarious and I agree with many of the things he says, buuuuut as it turns out, Kluwe is a bit litigious, and I'm not sure I would want somebody with the "snitch" label in my locker room, for his sake.
Plus, and this may be the real reason why I picked him, he's proven to hold the ball well for the next person on my list.

Kicker- Sebastian Janikowski

C'mon. Das Boot! The guy can kick field goals from outer space! I don't know how the Raiders don't score more! He's always in field goal range!
SEABASS!

Strong and Free Safety- The Legion of Boom.

The Seahawks secondary actually runs the kind of defense that I like. I really like the versatility of both Thomas and Chancellor. Chancellor lays huge hits but manages to keep himself healthy and is really underrated in coverage, and Thomas is great in the zone but surprisingly good in man as well. If you don't believe me, just look at how he took Jimmy Graham out of the Seahawks/Saints playoff game. Yeah. I can dig it.

Cornerbacks- Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Charles Woodson.

I promise the Raider/Seahawk theme will break soon, it's purely a coincidence that the Seahawks have the best secondary in the NFL, and the Raiders had an amazing kick team for most of the decade.
Sherman and Browner are big, tough guys who can dominate on the line, nobody moreso than Sherman of late. Richard Sherman is easily the best corner in the NFL, and I have yet to see any legitimate argument for anyone else. Browner has some issues with speedy receivers, but in my completely hypothetical dream defense, he wouldn't have many chances to get burned.
As for Charles Woodson, he's reached the Safety/Nickel Corner stage of his career, and I feel like he's built to own. He understands the game, and he still has some of the speed that caught Al Davis' eyes all those years ago.
Plus, I'd love to see him break that defensive touchdown record.

Outside Linebackers- Sio Moore and Lavonte David

Okay, ONE LAST RAIDER, I'M SORRY.
Both of these guys play exceptionally well versus the run and in coverage, which, as I mentioned before, means a lot in my system.
David is better against the run while Moore is a better pass rusher, so I feel like the two would balance each other out while keeping the middle of the field safe.
Not to mention that both of these guys are really young, so they could anchor the middle of my defense for as long as I needed them to.

Inside Linebacker- Luke Kuechly

Some guys are so good, it doesn't matter what scheme you're running, there simply aren't any other options.
Luke Kuechly is one of those guys.
He's got the smarts, he's got the skills, and he's got all those precious intangibles you can't seem to coach.
Seriously, he's a leader, he can cover, he can tackle, he can blitz, and he understands the X's and O's of the game.
Nobody else comes close.

Defensive Line- JJ Watt, Dontari Poe, Gerald McCoy, and Greg Hardy.

Give me the two big boys, McCoy and Poe in the middle clogging up the offensive line so that Watt and Hardy can tear through tackles to hit the QB. And Seriously, good luck getting anything between the guards.
Watt dominates with no help as an end in a 3-4 set, so I shudder imagining what he could do with more one on one opportunities.

So that's the defense. Good luck stopping that pass rush, getting a receiver open, and completing a pass. Good luck making a whole in that defense that can get past my speedy linebackers. Now, occasionally, my defensive line will takes plays off and maybe there will be holes in the secondary, maybe my linebacking corps will get overwhelmed and a tight end or runningback will get open.

Fullback- Marcel Reece

Reece is easily the best fullback in the league.
It's an almost extinct position, one that most teams don't even have anymore, but the ones that do would kill to have a fullback as diverse as Reece.
A converted wide receiver, Reece has proven to be a great runner, receiver, and blocker.
In the right hands (mine), Reece would find him everywhere from the wildcat to out wide.

Offensive Line- Joe Thomas, Marshal Yanda, John Sullivan, Alex Boone, Jared Veldheer.

Gimme 5 big, strong, versatile guys. All of these guys have proven to be efficient in the run game, as well as in pass protection. Versatility is everything, and with the number of crazy formations I'd want to run, I would need guys I can trust to adapt.

Tight Ends- Rob Gronkowski and Tyler Eifert.

Two big, fast guys with soft hands and proven blocking ability. Eifert hasn't been spotlighted in Cincinnati yet, and I think that's a real shame, but I have to believe his real talent will shine through and he'll get his time in the sun. And if Gronk stays healthy, there's no question that he's eaaaaasily the best tight end in the game. He's almost unstoppable in the redzone, and far too physical for opposing linebackers and safeties.

Wide Receivers- Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, Wes Welker.

This trio is a ton of run. I believe that Dez Bryant is the second best wide receiver in the NFL, and Calvin is the obvious first. That's a ton of size and speed and nobody is better than going up to win the ball than those two. Then you've gotta love Welker over the middle. He does have a bit of a drop and injury problem, but he's also among the greatest slot receivers of all time, and he would gobble up all of the passes exploiting holes in coverage.

Runningbacks- Jamaal Charles and Toby Gerhart

In the offense I'd like, you would definitely see more passes than runs, so I'd like to have a guy who can make catches out of the backfield, and pick up tons of yards after. See; The Raiders game. As for Gerhart, he's got underrated speed and obvious toughness and would go a long way in softening up the defensive line.

Quarterback- Andrew Luck.

Luck is the perfect QB.
He's got all the tools physically, he's got a great arm, incredible accuracy, and is surprisingly athletic. Not to mention, he's quite the whiz kid, I mean, he's got a degree from Stanford for Bobs sake.

© 2014 Ryan Smith

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