NFL: Top 10 Players To Start a Franchise With

Errol KrupiarzContributor IOctober 30, 2011

NFL: Top 10 Players To Start a Franchise With

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    One thing this country is obsessed with in sports is drafts. Fantasy drafts, mock drafts, college drafts. It’s a time of excitement, new beginnings and hope for the future. It involves debate, second-guessing and a whole lot of strategy.

    What if you were the GM of an NFL franchise and were the decision maker in a real draft?

    This is the deal. Throw all current NFL players in a huge free-agent pool. You choose who you want to build your team around. You can select anyone you want — but remember, you are building a team from scratch.

    You want to be able to compete now and in the future. No college players, and for the purpose of this draft, disregard salary concerns.

    Just pick who you want wearing your team’s uniform. Kind of like a fantasy draft on Madden.

    I got together with a couple of my finest wiseguys and we did a mock NFL draft while dining on bowls of pasta with marinara sauce and garlic bread. Here are the results—let us know what you think or would have done differently.

No. 10: BJ Raji

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    This guy is for real. Built like a nose tackle, but athletic enough to be a linebacker. Remember that interception he returned for a touchdown in last year's NFC Championship game at Chicago?

    We’re talking 335 pounds of explosive defense in the middle of the line and he’s only 25 years old. Raji is one of the reasons why Green Bay has gotten so much better on defense the last couple years ... 

No. 9: Clay Matthews

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    ... And here is another reason. Whenever you see Matthews making a play, it looks like he’s been shot out of a cannon. And he makes a lot of plays. The outside linebacker out of USC finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season—as a rookie. 

No. 8: Patrick Willis

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    "The Freak" has averaged 149 tackles per season in his four-year career. Willis can single-handedly take over a game on defense. He is the best middle linebacker in the world and will be for quite some time. You can not go wrong building an NFL team around Patrick Willis.

No. 7: Ndamukong Suh

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    Get used to this name because you will be hearing it for a long, long time. Suh was a Pro Bowl starter as a rookie last year after recording 66 tackles and 10 sacks. Those numbers are unheard of for a nose tackle. Already one of the most feared and vicious defenders in the NFL, the sky is the limit for this young man—and he is getting there quick.

No. 6: Adrian Peterson

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    Everything you want in a running back. Speed, agility, make-you-miss moves and power to run people over. Peterson is as durable and productive as they come, and still just 26 years old. Yes, please!

No. 5: Calvin Johnson

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    Yes—he’s that good. Big, fast, powerful, can out-jump anyone and catches everything thrown his way. At just 26 years old, Megatron will be the league’s most dynamic receiver, playmaker and scorer for the next half decade.

No. 4: Mario Williams

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    Who still think the Texans made a mistake drafting this guy No. 1 ahead of Reggie Bush in 2006? All Super Mario has done in the NFL is average over 10 sacks a season and strike fear in defensive coordinators everywhere. Williams has been a major reason the Houston Texans have gone from pretenders to contenders in the last couple years. If someone were to take him No. 1 in this draft, we would not argue.

No. 3: DeMarcus Ware

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    A quarterback’s worst nightmare. Ware has 60.5 sacks in the last four seasons and has never missed a game in his NFL career. The best pass-rushing linebacker in the NFL in over a decade. 

No. 2: Darrelle Revis

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    Almost took him No. 1. Revis takes away half of the field from your opponent’s passing game every week. One stat about Revis that boggled our mind — he allowed only 19 catches last season. That’s about one catch per game! And he’s just 26 years old. Where do we sign up?

No. 1: Aaron Rodgers

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    The NFL has become a passing league now, and what better choice to build a team around than a signal-caller in his prime who can make every throw on the field and is just coming off a Super Bowl win? We flirted with some other names for the top spot, but realized it would be too crazy to pass on Rodgers.