Everyone’s got their own twist on NFL Mock Drafts.
Well, we here at Bleacher Report have a few of our own, and one of them is this: The Hall of Fame edition.
Imagine that it’s draft day, but instead of college juniors and seniors, your team has the chance to draft someone who will go on to be one of the greatest players in NFL history—assuming as we are, of course, that he is guaranteed to turn out exactly as he did.
That might be even tougher than the actual draft. But using the 2010 NFL Draft order and each team’s “needs,” that’s exactly what we’re going to try to do here.
For example, if you’re the Rams and you need a quarterback, who do you take? Montana? Unitas? Elway? Who fits the scheme best?
Likewise, the Redskins seemingly need a franchise left tackle, but who would be their choice? Would it be maybe Anthony Munoz, or Jackie Slater, or maybe Gary Zimmerman?
You’ll find out our opinion on those conundrums shortly.
Before you do, know there are just two caveats to this draft: all players selected will be based on need—i.e., the Lions won’t be taking, say, John Elway—and every selection will be a Hall of Famer.
And now, on with the draft.
Sam Bradford is projected as the top pick, so we start with a quarterback.
There are roughly 30 quarterbacks in the NFL Hall of Fame (depending on how you count guys like George Blanda), so even selecting just among them is quite a challenge.
For my money, Montana is the best.
More than 40,000 yards, 273 touchdowns, eight Pro Bowls, four Super Bowl rings, two NFL MVPs and a 92.3 career rating—what more can you ask for?
At the turn of the century, Montana was named No. 3 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest NFL Players and No. 25 on ESPN’s Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.
Ten years later, he’s the No. 1 pick in our All-Time Greats Mock Draft.
Again, Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh is the man most project to go at No. 2 overall.
If it’s a defensive tackle the Lions need, look no further than a man who was so vicious that his rhyming nickname wasn’t just a clever play on words.
Greene was the preeminent tackle of the 1970s, and his rap sheet—78.5 sacks, 10 Pro Bowls, four Super Bowl victories, etc.—speaks for itself. But the thing about Greene is that he was also one of the most unselfish teammates of all time.
As the leader of the “Steel Curtain,” “Mean” Joe would often line up at an angle and pile into the offensive line, taking out two or three blockers. This freed up linebacker Jack Lambert, fellow tackle Ernie Holmes and the rest of the Curtain to make plays.
The Steelers won four Super Bowls in six years, and Greene became one of the most revered players of a generation.
The Bucs need a pass rusher, a corner and a wide receiver in the worst way.
Since a great pass rush can help cover up coverage deficiencies, that’s where we go—and who better than the “Minister of Defense?”
Quite simply, he’s arguably greatest defensive end of all time.
The Hall of Famer had a then-NFL record 198 career sacks, went to 13 Pro Bowls and had his number retired by two different franchises. He had nine straight double-digit sack seasons, made two different All-Decade Teams and was voted by ESPN Fan Nation as the best player in Eagles’ franchise history.
Do I need to go on?
If White were alive today, he’d probably still be a better player than anyone on the Bucs’ defensive line.
To get him at No. 3 in this mock is almost a steal.
Coming out of college, Anthony Munoz was considered a risk due to a series of knee injuries.
A dozen years later, he retired as the greatest offensive tackle in NFL history.
Munoz became the Bengals’ starting left tackle in his rookie year and became a fixture for the next decade, making 11 consecutive Pro Bowls while keeping Boomer Esiason upright.
He was No. 17 overall on the aforementioned Sporting News list, and even caught four touchdown passes during his illustrious career.
Donovan McNabb has played with a handful of top-flight tackles in his career, but putting Munoz on his blindside would make No. 5 more dangerous than he’s ever been.
Tough choice between linebacker and offensive tackle, as greats like Gary Zimmerman, Jackie Slater and Art Shell are all available.
But when you have the chance to get perhaps the greatest middle linebacker that ever lived and you actually need help at that position? That’s a no brainer, folks.
I honestly thought about going with my heart and putting Derrick Thomas in this spot, but you certainly can’t argue with LT.
The 1986 NFL MVP had 132.5 sacks in his career, and he changed the way the game was played. John Madden said that Taylor “changed the way defense is played, the way pass-rushing is played, the way linebackers play and the way offenses block linebackers,” while Joe Gibbs credited Taylor’s rush ability as the catalyst for his creation of the H-back position.
Taylor was the No. 2 overall pick in 1981, and three decades later he’s a relative steal for the Chiefs at No. 5.
The Seahawks also have a pair of pressing needs, those being tackle and defensive end. But as pass rushers are a little less in demand in this draft, we’ll wait on them and take the cornerstone left tackle at No. 6.
“Cornerstone” is certainly an accurate way to describe Jackie Slater. He was only a third-round pick, but in 20 years as a Ram, Slater played in 259 games—then an NFL record for a lineman—and was selected to seven Pro Bowls.
In 1979, Slater became a starter and helped lead the Rams to Super Bowl XIV. Four years later, the Rams’ line allowed a league-low 23 sacks and propelled Eric Dickerson to a rookie-record 1,808 yards rushing.
He blocked for Dickerson and Jerome Bettis, protected Jim Everett and Steve Bartkowski, and bridged the gap between the Chuck Knox era and the Greatest Show on Turf.
Slater was an under-appreciated great on a series of mediocre teams, but we reward him for his service by slotting him in at No. 6 in this mock.
The Browns also have a lot of needs, but it would seem that a franchise quarterback is just what the doctor (Mike Holmgren) wants to order.
As if anyone would need a reason to draft John Elway.
Just because, I’ll throw Elway’s stats out there: 51,475 passing yards (third all-time), 300 TD passes (fifth all-time), nine Pro Bowl selections and the honor of being No. 3 (behind Unitas and Montana) on TSN’s 2005 list of the 50 Greatest NFL Quarterbacks.
He went out on top as the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIII (just one of his five starts in the big game) and is considered, draft snafu aside, to be one of the greatest men to ever play the game.
Now all the Browns have to do is get him someone (anyone) to throw the ball to.
The Raiders are liable to take just about anybody.
But they do need an offensive tackle, and Al Davis loves physical specimens—so enter the 6’6”, 300-pound bruiser known as Zimmerman.
For 11 years, Zimmerman was one of the preeminent tackles in the NFL for both the Vikings and the Broncos. He played in 184 games (starting every single one), was a seven-time Pro Bowler and made the All-Decade Team in both the 1980s and 1990s—and like his teammate Elway, went out on top after Denver won Super Bowl XXXII.
Zimmerman may not have gotten much pub, but he was one of the best to play the game and could certainly make a difference on JaMarcus Russell's blindside.
The Bills have a lot of needs, but a lot of recent mocks I have seen have them selecting Jimmy Clausen out of Notre Dame—obviously looking for a “franchise quarterback” at No. 9.
Dan Marino of course has the numbers; he’s second all-time to Brett Favre in yards, touchdowns, and completions, went to a zillion Pro Bowls, etc.
But beyond that, Marino knows Buffalo. As a Miami Dolphin, he played in western New York once a year for 17 seasons. Without doing the math, that’s roughly equal to any of the signal callers currently on the Bills’ roster.
Do you really need any other reasons?
The Jags’ top need is seemingly a pass rusher, as they registered a league-low 14 sacks last year—less than Jared Allen or Elvis Dumervil had on their own.
So who better to fix that than the all-time NFL leader in sacks?
Smith recorded 200 in 19 seasons, and what makes that record more impressive is that he spent the majority of them in the Bills’ 3-4 defense—a scheme that doesn’t usually lend itself to pass-rushing ends.
It was quite frankly a toss-up between him and Reggie White at No. 3, and the only reason I chose White for the Bucs is that the “Minister of Defense” could also play inside, so he could help the Bucs at two spots.
But if White isn’t the greatest defensive end in history, Smith sure is, so he’s a steal at No. 10.
If a player of Smith’s caliber were available today, he’d be just what the doctor ordered to fix the Jags’ less-than-ferocious pass rush.
With a need at inside linebacker, the Broncos are likely to take Alabama’s Rolando McClain if he is available.
So in this draft, why not take perhaps the most intense middle linebacker to ever step foot on the field?
Singletary amassed nearly 1,500 tackles in his 12-year career, and damn near ripped his opponent’s head off on at least half of them.
Ironically, the best game of Singletary’s career may have come against Denver in 1990, as he recorded 10 solo tackles and 10 assists.
The Bears may have run a 4-3 in Singletary’s day (and still do), but moving to either inside position in a 3-4 wouldn’t be too hard for a guy of his talent.
With Brandon Marshall now on board, the Dolphins’ biggest needs seem to be at DT, OLB and S.
They badly need to replace the sack production they lost with the defections of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor, and one of the newest Hall of Famers would be just the guy to do it.
One of the most physical linebackers of his era, Jackson accumulated 128 sacks in 15 years as a Saint and 49er. As part of the vaunted “Dome Patrol,” he was one of the outside forces on a linebacking core that NFL Network ranked as the greatest of all time.
Oh, and he was also one tough dude; he only missed two games in 13 seasons in New Orleans, both as a result of a 1989 auto accident—but he came back and played most of that season with his jaw wired shut.
That’s a guy you want on your defense.
Offensive line and secondary help are primary needs, and with two picks in the next five, the Niners would go for whichever position has less available talent.
Here I suppose that’s offensive tackle, so the Niners take a man who made his fame across the bay—former Raider player and coach Art Shell.
Shell spent 14 years in the league and was one of the most physical linemen of his era. He made eight Pro Bowls and was ranked No. 55 on The Sporting News’ 100 Greatest Players list in 1999.
He was also a very intelligent player, and went on to coach the Raiders in six different seasons between 1990 and 2006.
The Seahawks got their offensive tackle at No. 6, so they take the pass rusher they need here.
And boy, did they get a good one.
Sacks weren’t an official stat until 1982, but when counted unofficially by Pro Football Weekly Magazine, Jones would have registered 173.5 in his career.
That’s third on the all-time list if true.
Jones did one thing, and he did it damn well. The “Fearsome Foursome” alumnus also only missed six games in 14 years, so he’d certainly be able to stay on the field.
The Giants need a front seven guy, but they’d especially like one who can help out in the pass rush.
Randle definitely fits that mold. His 137.5 sacks are the most ever by a defensive tackle, and combining him with the likes of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka outside would certainly make Big Blue’s pass rush ridiculously good.
Somehow, it took two years of eligibility for Randle to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he’s off the board halfway through the first round in our all-time greats mock.
Corner and defensive end are pretty much equal needs for the Titans, so it’s kind of a toss up.
In short, Lane was a beast in the secondary. The man nicknamed “Night Train” was more like a freight train, clobbering opponents every chance he got.
But he wasn’t just a hitter—Lane recorded 68 career picks, setting an NFL rookie record of 14 that still stands.
He was the highest-ranked defensive back (no. 19) on the much-mentioned Sporting News list, and is enshrined in the Arizona Cardinals’ Ring of Honor as well.
Not bad for a guy who dropped out of college, wasn’t drafted, and showed up at Rams camp because he didn’t like working in a factory.
With their offensive line needs addressed at No. 13, the Niners can look to the secondary at No. 17—and also become the first team in this draft to take one of their own.
Corner is a bigger need than safety for San Fran, but hell, they drafted Lott as a corner out of USC (he didn’t move to safety until 1985, his fifth season).
Either way, you knew not to throw at Lott if you could help it, and you damn sure knew if he was hitting you.
Lott had an uncanny ability to see plays develop, which led to him having 63 career picks and twice leading the league from the safety spot.
Really, the Niners wouldn’t need any more reason to select the greatest secondary player in their franchise’s history for a second time.
Interior line has always been a big need for Pittsburgh, so even though they could use a receiver, defensive end or a cornerback, their top pick would be perhaps the best inside lineman in NFL history.
Matthews, who comes from the quintessential football family—his father, brother, and nephew, all named Clay, have all played in the league—played all three line positions in his 19-year career.
He made an NFL record 14 Pro Bowls, going to Hawaii as both a guard and a center. He was also remarkably durable, playing in more games (296) than any non-specialist and in more seasons than any offensive lineman in history.
He only retired in 2001 and was enshrined as soon as he was eligible (2007), so he might still be better than most of Pittsburgh’s interior line.
The Falcons need a pass-rusher, and they get one of the best in this former “Purple People Eater.”
Again, sacks weren’t officially a stat until 1982, but an unofficial tally gives Eller 133.5 for his career—all but three of which came as a Viking and would give him the franchise record. He would also have had seven seasons with 10 or more, an impressive total in its own right.
Eller also played in 225 games in 16 seasons, missing only three in his career and starting 209 of those he played in.
While Alan Page may have gotten more accolades and Jim Marshall may have the most infamous moment, there’s no doubt that Eller was the soul of the Vikings’ legendary defense of the 1970s.
The Texans need a corner in the worst way, and at No. 20, they might just get the best overall defensive back in NFL history.
Here are just some of Woodson’s ridiculous career numbers: 71 interceptions (third most ever), 1,483 interception return yards (most ever), 12 interceptions returned for TD (most ever), 32 fumble recoveries (defensive record), and 11 Pro Bowls (defensive back record).
He led the league in interceptions at age 37—after moving to safety no less—and is the only man to ever reach the Pro Bowl as a cornerback, safety and kick returner.
Gee, is it a wonder he was a near-unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer?
If Dick Lane wasn’t Dick Lane and Ronnie Lott wasn’t a previous 49er, Woodson would’ve been gone at No. 16 or No. 17…but he wasn’t, and the Texans would gladly take him at No. 20.
Oddly enough, the Bengals’ biggest needs are tight end and safety—with many mocks projecting them to take Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham at No. 21.
So here, they get perhaps the greatest pass-catching tight end ever in Ozzie Newsome.
While “The Wizard” may be better known to younger fans as the GM of the Baltimore Ravens, he was one hell of a player in the 1980s.
Selected at No. 23 in the 1978 draft, Newsome spent 13 years as a Brown and racked up 662 catches and 7,980 yards, both of which are still Cleveland franchise records.
He was also remarkably durable; despite seemingly always having a nagging injury, Newsome played in 198 straight games and catching a pass in 150 in a row at one point.
Newsome has the best numbers of any tight end in the Hall, and would be a great weapon in the Bengals’ offense.
The Pats need someone (anyone) to give them some semblance of a pass rush, and so they’re now the second team to select one of their own.
In short, Tippett was a dominant player in the 1980s for a team that really didn’t do much outside of a berth in Super Bowl XX.
Tippett still holds the New England franchise record with 100 sacks, and his mark of 35 in 1984-85 is the highest two-season total for a linebacker in history. When he retired, his total was seventh all-time and third among linebackers.
He also went to five straight Pro Bowls and was named to both the 1980s All-Decade Team and the All 3-4 Defensive Team.
He was the defensive face of the franchise 20 years ago, and the Patriots would be proud to re-acquire Andre Tippett in this mock.
The Pack could take a tackle, a corner or an outside linebacker here at No. 23 in the real 2010 draft.
With that in mind, I have chosen Dick LeBeau, and there’s a reason for that.
As a cornerback, LeBeau racked up 62 career picks, which is eighth on the all-time list. He was never a first team All-Pro, but did make three Pro Bowls while playing opposite of “Night Train” Lane and set an NFL record for cornerbacks with 171 consecutive games played.
However, most people know LeBeau as one of the greatest defensive coordinators in NFL history. He’s a master of the 3-4 and the zone blitz, both of which the Packers now employ, and has won two Super Bowls in the last decade as the boss of the Steelers’ stifling defense.
It may have taken him until 2010 to reach the Hall, but LeBeau is arguably the greatest defensive mind the game has ever seen.
Plus, his name is as close to Lambeau as you can possibly get. So why not?
They won’t get one unless they trade up, but make no mistake that a SAM linebacker is definitely the Eagles’ most pressing need.
Good thing Hendricks was an elite one.
As the Colts’ starting strong-side linebacker in 1970, he recorded 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks on a Super Bowl-winning defense that only allowed 102.8 rushing yards per game and two scores on the ground.
His height also made him an ideal SAM, as most of his 26 career picks came because his great length allowed him to obstruct passing lanes and zero in on errant passes.
Over his career, Hendricks played in 215 straight games, eight Pro Bowls and four Super Bowls, and finished with 60.5 sacks.
Sounds like a guy that Andy Reid and Sean McDermott could do an awful lot with, no?
The Ravens really could go anywhere on defense, with corner and defensive tackle the top needs.
With nose guard a very thin position among the remaining Hall of Famers, Emmitt Thomas would certainly be worth a look.
Thomas is 10th all-time in interceptions with 61, and he led the league in both 1969 and 1974. He was a ball hawk who also had excellent cover skills, and was a lynchpin on all three of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl teams.
He’s now bringing that knowledge to the Chiefs’ secondary as a coach, having been named Kansas City’s secondary boss after eight seasons in the Falcons organization.
Baltimore’s secondary has always been notorious for their excellent man coverage skills, and when you add in Thomas’ pick prowess, he’d be a perfect fit.
The Cards need linebackers, and Ray Nitschke is a damn fine one.
As a middle linebacker, Nitschke had a great all around game. He was a ferocious hitter, making him a weapon against the run—but he could also handle his own in coverages or as a quarterback spy, recording 25 interceptions to help prove that point.
He was the centerpiece of a Packers’ defense that won five NFL titles and two Super Bowls in his 15 seasons, and was the MVP of the 1962 NFL Championship Game.
With just about every position in the Cards’ linebacking corps up for grabs, an all-around great like Nitschke would fit in well wherever he was shuffled.
After releasing longtime starter Flozell Adams, the Cowboys need a tackle, so they’ll dip into the pool for a man who helped them win a championship.
Originally a Green Bay Packer, he was part of the same dynasty as Ray Nitschke and was tabbed by Vince Lombardi as “the finest player I (Lombardi) ever coached!”
After 188 straight games and nine Pro Bowl appearances, Gregg spent his final year in Dallas—where he helped the 1971 Cowboys win Super Bowl V. And, of course, he was ranked No. 28 overall (and the No. 2 tackle behind Anthony Munoz) on the 1999 Sporting News list.
Not a bad pickup at No. 27 in the all-time greats mock.
The Chargers will likely select either a nose guard or a running back at No. 28. But again, with a shortage of noses in this pool, the Bolts will look the other way.
There are nearly three dozen backs in the Hall, and it would almost be impossible for any team to make a bad choice here.
But hey, Smith is tops in rushes, yards, and touchdowns, had an NFL-record 78 100-yard games and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII.
He also won the third season of “Dancing with the Stars,” showing that his quick feet still haven’t failed him, even in his late-thirties.
I’m not sure I need to hype up Emmitt Smith more. Everyone has a different opinion on who the best is but if you consult the record books, Smith’s name will be at the top.
The Jets shored up two areas of their team by trading for Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes, and added safety depth with Brodney Pool.
So, it’s either front seven or a running back here, as Leon Washington probably won’t be back after 2010. Since not many of the remaining Hall of Famers in the front seven were 3-4 stalwarts—and there are a billion or so backs left in the pool—why not go with an “All-American” pick?
Sure, Walter Payton retired as the NFL’s career leader in yards and TDs…but so did Brown. And sure, Barry Sanders had 3,000 more yards in an equally short career…but Brown is the only rusher to average 100 yards per game for his entire career.
Plus, Brown is a decent receiver (2500 yards and 20 TD out of the backfield) and at 6’2”, 232 lbs. in his prime, he would be a “bigger” back to complement the speedier, 5’11” Shonn Greene.
And just imagine if they screened The Dirty Dozen in the New York area with him as a hometown star.
Depending on the results of the annual Brett Favre retirement derby, the Vikings are realistically drafting for depth anywhere but the secondary.
Their safeties are poor and their corners have injury issues, so that’s where we’re going, and it just so happens that one of the players available was one of the most durable corners in NFL history.
Darrell Green missed 25 games in 20 seasons, with two-thirds of them coming in 1989 or 1992.
He spent his entire career as a Redskin and was a force both on the corner and in the punt return game, so his addition would give Minnesota another weapon to pair with Percy Harvin there if they so chose.
He’s in the Hall of Fame, so his skills are undeniable despite the numbers. But among his 20 seasons and 54 interceptions are NFL records for most seasons with at least one pick (19), most games played by a defender (295), and oldest cornerback to ever play in a game (42). Plus, he still reportedly ran a 4.43 40-yard dash on his fiftieth birthday.
He’d be a force for the Vikes from now until 2030 at multiple positions. That’s a hell of a pick at No. 30.
The Colts could go almost anywhere on defense with their No. 31 pick in the real draft. They could use depth on the line and in the secondary, but the loss of Raheem Brock would seemingly be the one they’d want to overcome first.
So if they need a solid end, they need not look much further than the first-ever draft pick in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history.
The Bucs were pitiful for most of Selmon’s nine-year career and didn’t get much better until the mid-1990s, but that didn’t stop Lee Roy from being a dominant player.
Selmon was a terror in the backfield, unofficially racking up 78.5 sacks and forcing 28.5 fumbles in his career. He also notched four seasons of 100 or more tackles, which is almost unheard of for a defensive end, especially in a base 3-4 defense like the one the early Bucs employed.
Although a back injury prematurely ended his career after nine seasons, Selmon was still one of the greatest of all-time; his six Pro Bowl berths and spot on the 1980s All-Decade Team personify that.
Even though he played in the 3-4, a player of his talent would surely flourish in a 4-3 scheme opposite Dwight Freeney—where he could be a force rushing the quarterback but also be very effective hunting down ball carriers flushed away from Freeney.
The Saints, like the Jets, badly need front seven help—and there may be no more perfect replacement for their departed than Dan Hampton.
The “Danimal” was one of the most versatile defensive linemen in NFL history, making All-Pro at both end and tackle and even once being a Pro Bowl alternate at both spots in the same year.
He actually moved from RDT to LDE in the middle of the vaunted 1985 season, lined up on the nose in the Bears’ 46 defenses—drawing constant double teams and allowing the rest of that insane defense to roam free—and would switch from end to tackle to nose within games at any time depending on the
No matter where he played, Hampton was great. Buddy Ryan called him the “cornerstone” of the Bears’ defense of the early 1980s, and in his career the Bears won 75 percent of the games he played in and only 33 percent of the 23 he missed.
For his career, Hampton had 82 sacks—11.5 of which came in 1984, when the Bears set an NFL record with 72 total—and in the 1980s’ the “Monsters of the Midway” ranked No. 1 for the decade in fewest total yards, touchdowns, and points allowed, as well as most sacks recorded.
And to think, the “cornerstone” was a guy who played four different positions and underwent 10 knee surgeries in 12 years.
Not a bad way to cap off the 2010 Hall of Fame mock.
That concludes the selections in the 2010 NFL Mock Draft: Hall of Fame Edition.
Before we finish for good, though, I want to make one point.
Some of you may be wondering why some of the best players in NFL history are missing. For instance, only five offensive skill players were selected, and not a single wide receiver was among them.
Before you yell and ask what gives though, think about what the 2010 NFL Draft will actually look like.
Not many teams count receivers or running backs among their top needs and there are only a few (depending on how you evaluate the group of receivers below Dez Bryant) who are first-round worthy anyway, so the number of selections will probably be anywhere from three to five. Any team would love a Jerry Rice, Steve Largent or Walter Payton, but offensive skill positions aren’t terribly in demand (or even terribly in supply) this year.
Same goes for quarterbacks; Sam Bradford is the probable No. 1 overall, Jimmy Clausen should be taken in the Top 10 and the Vikings or another wild-card team may take a chance on a Colt McCoy or Tim Tebow. So again, any team would love to have Johnny Unitas, Troy Aikman or Dan Fouts, but once Montana, Marino and Elway were gone, no one needed them.
So yes, some of the best players are missing…but in this draft, they simply weren’t needed or were needed less than someone else.
But hey, that debate is what the comments section is for, so have at it!