Jamaal Charles and 4 Non-QBs You Can Build an NFL Franchise Around

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystOctober 8, 2012

Jamaal Charles and 4 Non-QBs You Can Build an NFL Franchise Around

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    The NFL is a league driven by quarterbacks and the passing game, and not only are quarterbacks the highest paid players, they also hog all the glory and get all the chicks.

    Jerks.

    However, there are a number of other young players on the football field that you can build a franchise around.

    Here's a look at a handful of those players.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    In 2010, it appeared that Jamaal Charles was ready to stake his claim to being one of the elite running backs in the NFL. 

    Then the 25-year-old tore his ACL early in the 2011 season, casting doubts over his future.

    The fifth-year pro appears to have laid those doubts to rest, as he is leading the league with 551 rushing yards through five games.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

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    If you polled 100 people and asked then who the best wide receiver in the National Football League, I'd wager that 95 of them would pick Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions.

    The 27-year-old racked up nearly 1,700 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns a season ago, and while he's found the end zone only once this season, "Megatron" is once again averaging over 100 yards a game.

    Johnson is the sort of wide receiver that gives defensive coordinators nightmares, and he can make so-so passers look good and good quarterbacks look great.

Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland Browns

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    Sure, the quarterback is a very important position on an NFL team, but it also helps if you have blockers up front that can keep that quarterback from getting killed.

    For most teams (those with right-handed passers, anyway), the most important position on that offensive line is the left tackle, who protects the quarterback's blind side.

    There's none better in the NFL at that task than Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns, who has played in every game of his six-year career and has been named to the Pro Bowl each time. 

J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

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    It's become something of an antiquated notion in the National Football League, but defense is still a vital part of success in the NFL, with teams such as the San Francisco 49ers showing just how far a stout defense can take you. 

    If you're looking to build such a defense, then I'd recommend starting with Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

    The second-year pro has been an absolute monster to this point in the 2012 season, logging at least one sack in each of the first five games and leading the NFL with 8.5.