Pac-10 Football: Fielding a Competitive NFL Team Made From Conference Alumni
The Pac-10 has brought in a number of talented players over the years. Some are big names and some are just making names for themselves, but if the Pac-10 alumni were to assemble a current NFL roster of 53 players, would it be a competitive team? Yes.
But, what would that team look like? What would be the the strengths and weaknesses? There are currently 145 Pac-10 alumni in the NFL currently, and so here's an attempt to answer those questions and more.
Starting Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers got to study under Brett Favre before he got a chance to start, which helped him progress much more quickly than other young quarterbacks in the league with limited starting experience. Rodgers is now amongst the top four quarterbacks in the league.
He has a career record of 20-16 but has appeared in a total of 43 games. He has thrown for 9,741 yards, 67 touchdowns to 26 interceptions, and has a completion percentage of 64.4 percent.
He has been to one Pro Bowl so far.
Backup Quarterback: Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer would probably be the starter if it was a couple of years ago, but ever since he had the bad knee injury against the Steelers in the 2005 playoffs he hasn't been as good as he once was. He still is an above average quarterback, and not at an elite level that Rodgers has gotten to now.
In Palmer's career, which has been over seven years, he has a record of 44-41, thrown for 19,802 yards, 133 touchdowns to 83 interceptions, and has completed 63 percent of his passes.
He's also been to the Pro Bowl twice.
Third String Quarterback: Derek Anderson
Derek Anderson has never had good luck in the NFL as he was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He saw action in his rookie season, but it wasn't until his third year that he blossomed, guiding the Browns to a record of 10-5 in his starts in 2007, but that wasn't good enough for the Browns and eventually he was released.
He was signed by the Arizona Cardinals to replace the retired Kurt Warner and the season hasn't gone as well as Anderson hoped. Part of that is because there's no running game in Arizona and their second best receiver Anquan Boldin was traded in the offseason.
In Anderson's time as a starter he has a record of 18-20, thrown for 7,727 yards, 49 touchdowns and 50 interceptions, completed 52.8 percent of his passes, and has been to one Pro Bowl.
Starting Running Back: Steven Jackson
Steven Jackson has been pretty much the only offense the St. Louis Rams have had in recent years, but when he is healthy he is a beast and defenses respect what he can do because he is a load to bring down. He is one of the last of the remaining workhorse backs in the NFL, meaning he takes a majority of the Rams carries.
He is now in his seventh year with the Rams and so far he has 1,621 carries for 6,991 yards, 42 touchdowns, 4.3 yards per carry average, 79.4 yards per game rushing, and also has 293 receptions for 2,403 yards, seven touchdowns, and averages 29 yards per game receiving.
He has been to two Pro Bowls in his career and is attempting to have his sixth straight 1,000-yard season.
Backup Running Back: Maurice Jones-Drew
Maurice Jones-Drew came out of nowhere to become one of the better running backs in the NFL. He played behind Fred Taylor to being his career, but due to Taylor not being able to stay healthy he eventually took over as the running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In his career so far in 67 games he has 925 carries, 4,246 yards, 50 touchdowns, 4.6 yards per carry average, 63.4 yards per game rushing, and he's also caught 209 passes for 1,831 yards, six touchdowns, and 27.3 yards per game receiving.
He has been to one Pro Bowl.
Third String Running Back: Marshawn Lynch
The third string had plenty of competition with Marshawn Lynch, Reggie Bush, and Jonathan Stewart battling for that third spot. Lynch edges out both Bush and Stewart because against Bush he was the better runner and against Stewart more of a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Lynch, although he wore out his welcome a fresh start in Seattle maybe good for Lynch. 2009 was a injury filled year also started out with a suspension as well, but he has appeared in 45 games and he has 687 carries, 2,765 yards, 17 touchdowns, 4 yards per carry average, 61.4 yards per game rushing, and has caught 94 passes for 670 yards, one touchdown, and averages 14.9 yards per game.
He has gone to one Pro Bowl while Bush and Stewart have not.
Starting Fullback: Mike Karney
One of the truly under appreciated players in the NFL, Karney is an excellent blocker, but can also be utilized both as a receiver and also getting the occasional carry.
In his career so far he has caught 62 passes for 317 yards, two touchdowns, 5.1 yards per catch, and 43 carries for 91 yards, 2.1 yards per attempt, and five touchdowns.
Has yet to be named to the Pro Bowl.
Wide Receiver Number One: Chad Ochocinco (Johnson)
Chad Ochocinco has been amongst the best receivers in the NFL for a while now. Pretty good for a receiver who didn't put up gaudy numbers at Oregon State. He's known for his vibrant personality, but he can also make plays on the football field.
In 141 games he has caught 707 passes for 10,248 yards, a 14.5 yards per catch average, 63 touchdowns, averages 72.7 yards per game, and also has 24 carries for 175 yards.
He's been to the Pro Bowl six times and named a First Team All-Pro twice.
Wide Receiver Number Two: Desean Jackson
Desean Jackson is now in his third year in the league, his second year in the league was special as he tied an NFL record with eight touchdowns that went for over 50 yards. When he came out of California the knock on him was his lack of height, but he has made up for that with his speed.
In 35 games he has caught 141 passes for 2,416 yards, 13 touchdowns, 17.1 yards per catch average, 69 yards per game average, and also has 31 carries for 248 yards, and two touchdowns.
Has made one Pro Bowl so far in his brief career.
Wide Receiver Number Three: Steve Smith
Steve Smith would make a perfect third receiver for the Pac-10 team as he doesn't average a lot of yards per catch, but he has great hands and could be used more as a possession receiver. Last year he broke out as one of the better receivers in the NFL with 107 catches for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns.
He's participated in 41 games so far in his career has 194 receptions for 2,068 yards, a 10.7 yards per catch average, eight touchdowns, and 50.4 yards per game.
He has made one Pro Bowl.
Wide Receiver Number Four: T.J. Houshmandzadeh
If this list would be made two to three years ago he'd be number two, but over the past couple of seasons his production has gone down. After an unimpressive season with the Seattle Seahawks he was released and signed with the Baltimore Ravens, where he has yet to find himself.
He was a college teammate of Chad Ochocinco and teammates in Cincinnati where the two combined to be amongst the best in the NFL. Since leaving the Bengals he has not found the success that he was hoping for.
In his career he's appeared in 124 games has 591 receptions for 6,773 yards, 41 touchdowns, a 11.5 yards per catch average, 54.6 yards per game average, and also has 23 carries for 142 yards, and one touchdown.
Has been to one Pro Bowl.
Wide Receiver Number Five: Mike Williams
Mike Williams is trying to come back from the bust label he had after being selected by the Detroit Lions with the 10th pick of the 2005 draft. It looked like he was done with football for good, but when Pete Carroll took over he asked for a tryout.
The story goes that he was out of shape and Carroll didn't believe Williams could get down to a desirable weight as Williams was about 265 pounds at the time. When training camp opened, Williams was in shape and lost a significant amount of weight.
He has done a decent job with the Seahawks thus far. In his career he has played 34 games and has caught 55 passes for 677 yards, 12.3 yards per catch average, two touchdowns, and 19.9 yards per game.
Starting Tight End: Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez will go down as the greatest tight end in NFL history. The only year he did not start was his rookie year, so now he's working on his 13th straight season where he has put up solid numbers from the tight end position.
He has played in 210 games has 1,018 catches for 12,012 yards, 11.8 yards per catch, 83 touchdowns, and averages 57.2 yards per game.
Gonzalez has been to 10 Pro Bowls and been selected five times as a First Team All-Pro selection.
Second Tight End: Todd Heap
Not nearly as prolific on the receiving end as Tony Gonzalez, Todd Heap has had a solid career both receiving and blocking. He has been a starter for now for 10 seasons and has caught 444 passes for 5,081 yards, 11.4 yards per catch average, 36 touchdowns, and 41 yards per game average.
Heap has twice made the Pro Bowl.
Third Tight End: Zach Miller
Zach Miller would be in the same category as Dallas Clark and Owen Daniels, but he plays on the Oakland Raiders, a team perpetually known for its losing and not being in too many games. Unfortunately, for Miller he doesn't get enough attention as he deserves because he's an excellent receiver at the tight end position.
He's now in his fourth year and so far he has caught 188 passes for 2,305 yards, 12.3 yards per catch, nine touchdowns, and 45.2 yards per game.
Has not been selected to the Pro Bowl, although his time will come.
Starting Left Tackle: Adam Snyder
Adam Snyder is a versatile linemen that can play either the guard or tackle position. Since he has that versatility he would be the starter as the left tackle, although he started out as a backup lineman for the 49ers he has now become part of the lineup for them.
He has three years of starting experience and is now in his sixth year.
Starting Left Guard: Kyle Kosier
Kyle Kosier would be the starter at left guard, as he plays multiple positions as well. He has appeared in 114 games in eight seasons, so his experience would be beneficial.
Starting Center: Olin Kreutz
Olin Kreutz has been one of the better centers in the NFL for years. He is now in his 13th season in the league and has been a starter for the last 12 seasons.
He has been to six Pro Bowls and has been a First Team All-Pro selection.
Starting Right Guard: Deuce Lutui
Deuce Lutui adds size to the line at 6'3", 340. He's been a starter for the Arizona Cardinals all of his five years in the NFL. He has yet to make a Pro Bowl, but he is a solid right guard.
Starting Right Tackle: Winston Justice
Winston Justice is a young right tackle with only one year of starting experience, and he has been in the league for four years now. So, he has some experience going into this season at the tackle position.
Backup Center: Ryan Kalil
Ryan Kalil would be the backup center to Kreutz as he is a young center. He is now in his fourth season and has been to one Pro Bowl.
Backup Guard/Center: Eric Heitmann
Eric Heitmann has played all over the line for the 49ers. He has found his home at center, but can play left guard or right guard if he is needed. He adds versatility to the line as a backup.
Backup Tackle: Eben Britton
Ebon Britton started from day one with the Jacksonville Jaguars and he will be a solid tackle. He would be the one challenging Justice for the starting spot.
Starting Lineup For Offense:
The starting lineup for the offense looks like this:
RB: S. Jackson
WR: Ocho Cinco
WR: D. Jackson
Starting Defensive Tackle: Haloti Ngata
Haloti Ngata is a big reason why the Baltimore Ravens defense plays the run so well. He takes up a lot of space at 6'4", 335 and with his big body it allows holes for his linebackers to make plays on running backs. He's now in his fifth year and has started since his rookie season.
In his career so far he has 144 tackles, eight and a half sacks, three interceptions, 11 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
He has one Pro Bowl selection.
Starting Defensive Tackle: Brandon Mebane
Brandon Mebane is a little more athletic than Ngata, hence why he has more sacks in less time. His athleticism allows him to stop the run, but also get after the quarterback.
In his career he has 98 tackles, 10 sacks, two passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
Has yet to make a Pro Bowl.
Backup Defensive Tackle: Mike Patterson
Mike Patterson would be the backup defensive tackle. He is better on the the pass rush as he is a little bit undersized for a defensive tackle at 5'11", 292, but is able to get to the quarterback. He is now in his sixth year with the Eagles.
In his career so far he has 206 tackles, 11 sacks, one interception, five passes defended, three forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and one fumble recovered for a touchdown.
Backup Defensive Tackle: Tank Johnson
Tank Johnson has had some issues with maturity, but when he has been on the field for the Bears he has been a productive member on defense when playing. Eventually the Bears got tired of his antics and he got a second chance with the Dallas Cowboys, and he's now with the Bengals. He did not start until his second year in the league and in total he has played seven seasons.
In his career he has 91 tackles, 14 sacks, seven passes defended, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.
Starting Defensive End: Andre Carter
Andre Carter is a versatile player as he can go from being a defensive end an outside linebacker. He fits perfectly in a 3-4 scheme.
He is now in his 10th season in the league and has a total of 322 tackles, 64.5 sacks, 24 passes defended, 15 forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.
Carter has not made a Pro Bowl.
Backup Defensive End: Igor Olshansky
Olshansky can play against the run as well as the pass and has a motor that doesn't quit. He is now in his seventh season in the NFL.
In his career he has 145 tackles, 12.5 sacks, one interception, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
Backup Defensive End: Kenyon Coleman
Kenyon Coleman is now in his eighth year in the NFL and he is a valuable backup with starting experience.
In his career he has 194 tackles, 11 sacks, five passes defended, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and a tackle for a safety.
Starting Left Outside Linebacker: Terrell Suggs
Terrell Suggs, like Carter, can play either outside linebacker or defensive end. In this case he's the outside linebacker. Suggs at Arizona State set a NCAA record for most sacks in a season and he hasn't looked back since arriving in the NFL.
In eight years he has 320 tackles, 60 sacks, five interceptions, two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns, 36 passes defended, 17 fumbles forced, and 11 fumble recoveries.
Suggs has three Pro Bowl selections.
Left Inside Linebacker: Scott Fujita
One of the truly more under appreciated linebackers in the NFL. He is an excellent tackler and can be used on a blitz to get to the quarterback. He is now in his ninth year in the league and has started in every season that he has been in the league.
So far he has 533 tackles, 20.5 sacks, five interceptions, 22 passes defended, 10 forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.
He has yet to make a Pro Bowl.
Right Inside Linebacker: Lance Briggs
Lance Briggs is one of the more dominant linebackers in the NFL. A few years ago the 49ers got in trouble with tampering with him as it looked like the Bears weren't going to keep Briggs after he was designated as the franchise player, but he re-signed with the Bears.
He is now in his eighth year and so far he has 657 tackles, eight and a half sacks, 11 interceptions, three of those interceptions returned for a touchdown, 56 passes defended, nine forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, and one of the fumbles recovered for a touchdown.
Briggs' is a five time Pro Bowl selection and has one First Team All-Pro selection.
Right Outside Linebacker: Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews has continued where he left off in his rookie year. He is an excellent pass rusher and at the start of the season in his first two games he had six sacks!
So far in just over a season he has 54 tackles, 17 sacks, eight passes defended, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown.
In his rookie year he was named to the Pro-Bowl as well.
Backup Linebacker: Lofa Tatupu
When Lofa Tatupu is healthy, he is the heart and soul of the Seattle Seahawks defense. The past couple of seasons he has been injured and the Seahawks defense missed his presence at the middle linebacker position.
In his career he has 370 tackles, seven and a half sacks, nine interceptions, one of the interceptions returned for a touchdown, 33 passes defended, six forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries.
He's been selected to three Pro Bowls and also has one First Team All-Pro selection.
Backup Linebacker: Brian Cushing
Brian Cushing was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, but unfortunately was suspended for the first four game for a failed drug test. He is one of the better young linebackers in the NFL.
So far he has 86 tackles, four sacks, four interceptions, 10 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and a tackle of a safety.
Cushing like his former USC teammate Matthews made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season.
Backup Linebacker: Tully Banta-Cain
Tully Banta-Cain is a outside linebacker that is known for one thing, getting after the quarterback. He has played a majority of his career with the New England Patriots, and spent two years with the San Fancisco 49ers where he was used as effectively and his numbers dipped.
In his eight-year career, he has 142 tackles, 24 sacks, one interception, five passes defended, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one fumble recovery was for a touchdown.
Backup Linebacker: Nick Barnett
Nick Barnett is a solid middle linebacker and has been in the league for eight years with the Green Bay Packers.
In his career he has 574 tackles, 15.5 sacks, nine interceptions, one interception returned for a touchdown, 36 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and seven fumble recoveries.
Starting Left Cornerback: Nnamdi Asomugha
Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the taller corners in the NFL at 6'3" and because of his reputation as being one of the best corners in the league, teams steer clear of throwing towards him. He is now in his eighth year with the Oakland Raiders.
In his career he has 259 tackles, two sacks, 11 interceptions, one interception returned for a touchdown, 58 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recoveries.
Asomugha is a two time Pro-Bowl selection and has one First Team All-Pro selection.
Starting Strong Safety: Troy Polamalu
Troy Polamalu, when he is healthy, is one of the most dominating defensive players in the NFL. Not only is he adept at stopping the run from his strong safety position, but he plays the pass just as well.
In his eight-year career he has 359 tackles, seven sacks, 22 interceptions, one of the interceptions returned for a touchdown, 70 passes defended, seven fumbles forced, three fumble recoveries, and one fumble recovered for a touchdown.
Polamalu is a five-time Pro Bowler and twice selected as a First Team All-Pro selection.
Starting Free Safety: O.J. Atogwe
O.J. Atogwe was amongst the top free agents this year, but eventually re-signed with the St. Louis Rams. He is a playmaker on defense as well. He is now in his sixth year in the NFL.
His numbers so far 291 tackles, three sacks, 19 interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, 34 passes defended, 15 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, and one fumble recovered for a touchdown.
Starting Right Cornerback: Marcus Trufant
Marcus Trufant is also a defensive player who doesn't get as much attention as he should get. He's a terrific corner who makes plays for the Seattle Seahawk defense.
He is in his eighth year as well and has 471 tackles, two sacks, 20 interceptions, two of those interceptions were returned for a touchdown, 102 passes defended, three forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.
Trufant has been to one Pro Bowl so far in his career.
The starting defense of the All Pac-10 team would be:
Backup Cornerback: Terrell Thomas
Terrell Thomas is now in his third season as a cornerback. He started all 16 games in his second year, so the New York Giants have confidence in him and he did not disappoint.
So far in his career he has 116 tackles, a sack, eight interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, 22 passes defended, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
Thomas could see a Pro Bowl in his future as well.
Backup Cornerback: Antoine Cason
Antoine Cason has quickly made a name for himself with the San Diego Chargers. He is the one that made Antonio Cromartie expendable. He is now in his third season and is a starting corner for the Chargers.
So far he has 98 tackles, six interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, 16 passes defended, and two forced fumbles.
Has not been to a Pro Bowl, although he may see one soon.
Backup Cornerback: Justin Tryon
Justin Tryon is a solid backup and can be used on special teams as well. He has made two starts in his three year career.
So far he has 22 tackles, one sack, one interception, four passes defended, and one fumble recovery.
Backup Safety: Erik Coleman
Erik Coleman can play either safety position and would make a good backup. He's now in his seventh year in the league.
So far he has made 424 tackles, two sacks, 10 interceptions, 34 passes defended, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
Backup Safety: Chris Horton
Chris Horton is a big hitter from the strong safety position, but he also can make plays in passing situations as well. He's now in his third year and he got a majority of his playing time in his rookie year as he sustained an injury and only played in eight games.
So far he has 80 tackles, a sack, three interceptions, eight passes defended, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
Backup Safety: Thomas Decoud
Thomas Decoud is a free safety that can make plays in the secondary, on running plays, and on special teams. He is now in his third year with the Atlanta Falcons.
So far he has 73 tackles, two sacks, four interceptions, eight passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
Punt Retuner: Desean Jackson
Even though he is the number two receiver, Jackson would also have his duty of returning punts. His speed makes him dangerous anytime he touches the ball and it has showed.
For his career so far he has 86 punt returns for 930 yards, three touchdowns, and averages 10.8 yards per return.
The only competition for Jackson was Reggie Bush, but in a shorter amount of time Jackson has had more returns, more yards, and averages more per return. Bush has one more touchdown than Jackson though.
Kick Returner: Justin Forsett
Forsett averaged 5.4 yards per carry and scored a total of five TD's last year.
Second Kick Returner: Maurice Jones-Drew
Maurice Jones-Drew before 2009 returned kickoffs. He did an excellent job at it as well. In his career he had 79 returns for 2,054 yards, a long of 100 yards, two returned for touchdowns, and averaged 26 yards per return.
Kicker: Jason Hanson
Jason Hanson has been in the NFL for 19 years and hence why he beat out Nick Folk for the kicker spot. In his career he has made 433 field goals has attempted 530, which is good for 81.7 percent. He's made 562 extra points while attempting 570, good for 98.6 percent, and in a pinch he's also able to punt the football.
He has 12 punts in his career that have gone for 416 yards, a long of 50, and has averaged 34.7 yards per punt.
Punter: Nick Harris
Nick Harris was a tremendous punter while playing for California, and that has translated to his success in the NFL. He's had an 11-year career so far.
He has punted 735 times for 31,034 yards, a long of 67, had four blocked, and averages 42.2 yards per punt.
Starting Lineups, Offense and Defense, for the All Pac-10: Competitive Or Not?
Here's the starting lineup for both sides of the ball:
RB: S. Jackson
WR: D. Jackson