Now that we know the identities of the players who will partake in the 2014 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii on Jan. 26, we can now begin to better understand how Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will pick their teams.
That's right, two NFL legends will pick teams in the first-ever Pro Bowl fantasy draft. The event will air at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. Both Rice and Sanders will have help from two captains and an NFL.com fantasy champion.
Anything can and surely will happen in the inaugural event.
Here is a look at the entire list of draft-eligible players, followed by what to expect from Rice and Sanders in the upcoming draft.
|QB||Tom Brady||New England Patriots|
|QB||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints|
|QB||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos|
|QB||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers|
|QB||Philip Rivers||San Diego Chargers|
|QB||Russell Wilson||Seattle Seahawks|
|WR||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|WR||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys|
|WR||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns|
|WR||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals|
|WR||Andre Johnson||Houston Texans|
|WR||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions|
|WR||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears|
|WR||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos|
|OT||Branden Albert||Kansas City Chiefs|
|OT||Jason Peters||Philadelphia Eagles|
|OT||Tyron Smith||Dallas Cowboys|
|OT||Joe Staley||San Francisco 49ers|
|OT||Joe Thomas||Cleveland Browns|
|OT||Trent Williams||Washington Redskins|
|OG||Jahri Evans||New Orleans Saints|
|OG||Ben Grubbs||New Orleans Saints|
|OG||Mike Iupati||San Francisco 49ers|
|OG||Logan Mankins||New England Patriots|
|OG||Louis Vasquez||Denver Broncos|
|OG||Marshal Yanda||Baltimore Ravens|
|C||Ryan Kalil||Carolina Panthers|
|C||Alex Mack||Cleveland Browns|
|C||Mike Pouncey||Miami Dolphins|
|C||Max Unger||Seattle Seahawks|
|TE||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns|
|TE||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers|
|TE||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints|
|TE||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos|
|RB||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs|
|RB||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears|
|RB||Frank Gore||San Francisco 49ers|
|RB||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks|
|RB||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles|
|RB||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings|
|FB||Marcel Reece||Oakland Raiders|
|FB||Mike Tolbert||Carolina Panthers|
|DE||Greg Hardy||Carolina Panthers|
|DE||Cameron Jordan||New Orleans Saints|
|DE||Robert Quinn||St. Louis Rams|
|DE||Cameron Wake||Miami Dolphins|
|DE||J.J. Watt||Houston Texans|
|DE||Mario Williams||Buffalo Bills|
|DT||Gerald McCoy||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|DT||Haloti Ngata||Baltimore Ravens|
|DT||Dontari Poe||Kansas City Chiefs|
|DT||Justin Smith||San Francisco 49ers|
|DT||Ndamukong Suh||Detroit Lions|
|DT||Kyle Williams||Buffalo Bills|
|OLB||John Abraham||Arizona Cardinals|
|OLB||Ahmad Brooks||San Francisco 49ers|
|OLB||Tamba Hali||Kansas City Chiefs|
|OLB||Justin Houston||Kansas City Chiefs|
|OLB||Robert Mathis||Indianapolis Colts|
|OLB||Terrell Suggs||Baltimore Ravens|
|MLB||NaVorro Bowman||San Francisco 49ers|
|MLB||Vontaze Burfict||Cincinnati Bengals|
|MLB||Luke Kuechly||Carolina Panthers|
|MLB||Patrick Willis||San Francisco 49ers|
|CB||Brandon Flowers||Kansas City Chiefs|
|CB||Brent Grimes||Miami Dolphins|
|CB||Joe Haden||Cleveland Browns|
|CB||Patrick Peterson||Arizona Cardinals|
|CB||Darrelle Revis||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|CB||Richard Sherman||Seattle Seahawks|
|CB||Aqib Talib||New England Patriots|
|CB||Alterraun Verner||Tennessee Titans|
|FS||Jairus Byrd||Buffalo Bills|
|FS||Earl Thomas||Seattle Seahawks|
|FS||Eric Weddle||San Diego Chargers|
|SS||Eric Berry||Kansas City Chiefs|
|SS||Kam Chancellor||Seattle Seahawks|
|SS||Troy Polamalu||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|P||Brandon Fields||Miami Dolphins|
|P||Johnny Hekker||St. Louis Rams|
|K||Matt Prater||Denver Broncos|
|K||Justin Tucker||Baltimore Ravens|
|PR||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|PR||Dexter McCluster||Kansas City Chiefs|
|ST||Justin Bethel||Arizona Cardinals|
|ST||Matthew Slater||New England Patriots|
Fans have to know where Rice is headed with his team from the get-go—offense, offense and more offense.
Rice does not lack for options. At quarterback, he can either pick from savvy veterans like Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos, or he can roll with young blood like Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.
But where is Rice most likely to turn for help early? Wide receivers, of course. As Rice was in his day, several names pop up as stars who will make any player under center better as ESPN illustrates:
2014 Pro Bowl WRs: Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Josh Gordon, A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 28, 2013
Rice can go with Megatron (1,492 yards, 12 touchdowns) from the Detroit Lions, but his options far from end there. If he wants to stick with reliable veterans, Rice can grab up Andre Johnson (1,358 yards and five scores), who helped to make Chase Keenum look like a star at times in 2013 for the Houston Texans. The Chicago Bears' Brandon Marshall (1,221 yards, 11 scores) is an option too after he survived a quarterback carousel.
But the young blood is once again where Rice should look. Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns broke records this year en route to 1,564 yards and nine scores, including two straight games with more than 230 yards—all while missing the first two games of the season.
As Dan Murphy, Cleveland's Communications Coordinator, points out, Gordon was the best deep threat in the NFL:
.@Browns WR Josh Gordon's average of 48.6 yards per TD catch is the highest in a season (min. 5 TD) since Victor Cruz in 2011 (52.0)— Dan Murphy (@DMurph_BrownsPR) December 27, 2013
Gordon, along with corner Joe Haden, were thrilled with their nominations as the NFL Network Twitter captured:
But Rice knows his defense, too. He had great praise for J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams, per ESPN's Nick Wagoner:
High praise from HOF'er Jerry Rice for @RQuinn94 ... Rice said Quinn or Watt would be his first choice amongst defenders in Pro Bowl draft.— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) December 28, 2013
Expect Rice's team to be a fantasy guru's dream. The Pro Bowl is known for sexy offense and little defense, and Rice is sure to assemble a squad that will put up historic numbers.
Which team will win?
But do not sleep on Primetime's team, because Sanders has plenty of defensive options to work with to counter what will be an explosive Team Rice.
Let's go ahead and jump into top cornerbacks, because we know that is where Sanders will look for the most help.
First up, the New England Patriots' Aqib Talib, who has made a habit of shutting down the best of the best this year, and even cashed in thanks to his selection, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Patriots CB Aqib Talib, selected tonight to the Pro Bowl, also cashed in on a cool $500,000 Pro-Bowl contract clause.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 28, 2013
While other big names such as Haden and Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals are great options, expect Sanders to also give the nod to another young gun about to take the league by storm—Alterraun Verner of the Tennessee Titans.
Verner ranks as the No. 11 corner in the NFL this year according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He is already thrilled about his big opportunity as the team's Twitter illustrates:
But Sanders, who is more than familiar with defenses, will surely know how to draft in the trenches, too. He already (while cracking a joke at his age) has his eye on Robert Mathis (53 tackles, 17.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles) from the Indianapolis Colts, as the 11-year pro revealed on Twitter:
If Rice's team is stacked to the brim with offensive studs, Sanders' squad will come with a lineup sure to make the Ryan family tree blush.
Just imagining the possibilities has to excite fans. Not a bad way to make the Pro Bowl entertaining again, right?