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All-Time NFL Draft

April 23, 2009 - Chris Masse

Sportswriter Michael Silver recently had a great idea where he did a mock NFL draft with teams being able to select any current player. It was something fun to think about, so Dr. Masse wants to take it a step farther. In his mock draft, the current teams can select any player in NFL history. Obviously, current players come as they are, but past greats will come via time warp and be in the prime of their careers. Enough with the intros, though, let's see what the teams did with this cornucopia of talent...

Note: This draft will reflect the original draft order instead of the current order that exists after trades were made.

1. Detroit Lions, Joe Montana, QB: The Lions have so many holes to plug so why not start with the most important position on the field? Montana was the ultimate winner, going 4-0 in super bowls while helping the 49ERS build one of the league's all-time great dynasties in the 1980s. Montana knows what itás like to help take a horrible team to a super bowl. When Montana was drafted in 1979 the Niners went 2-14. Two years later Montana started for the first time and the Niners were world champions for the first time. Calvin Johnson provides a big-time target and Montana's presence will help the Lions put points on the board. Now if the Lions can only stop others from scoring...

2. St. Louis Rams, Reggie White, DE: Itás tempting to go after some offensive legends here, but the Rams defense has been atrocious for years so to fix that they draft one of the gameás all-time best defensive players. Nearly unblockable in his prime, White can wreak havoc with opposing passing games while also playing great against the run. Whiteás presence also will free things up for other Rams defenders and his attitude alone could go a long way in helping transform St. Louis into a winner again.

3. Kansas City Chiefs, Jim Brown, RB: Another team with numerous holes but also with several up and coming players, the Chiefs go after the man many consider the best football player in NFL history. Coupled with quarterback Matt Cassel and promising receiver Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs suddenly would have one of the AFC West's most dangerous offenses if the offensive line starts to jell. Brown was a wrecking ball who won eight rushing titles in nine years and who ran over and around defenders. He was powerful and complete and this intense competitor will not settle for anything less than making the Chiefs great.

4. Seattle Seahawks, Lawrence Taylor, LB: Opting for a game-changer on defense, the Seahawks select Taylor over Dick Butkus because after all, Taylor did change the game. More aptly, Taylor changed his position from read and react to attack with his ability to rush the passer and dismantle opposing passing games. Fast and powerful, Taylor helped the Giants go from rags to riches while becoming one of his position's all-time best players. His presence will vastly improve a Seahawks defense and help a perennial super bowl contender regain its form after an injury-ravaged 2008 campaign.

5. Cleveland Browns, Jerry Rice, WR: Bummed that they can't bring Jim Brown back home, the Browns also are ecstatic that the greatest wide receiver of all-time has dropped into their laps. Rice, in this writerás opinion, also is the best football player ever. Shattering records for touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards...name a record and Rice probably has it so you get the idea. And he was the ultimate big-game player, winning three super bowls and scoring seven touchdowns in those three wins while gaining 215, 148 and 149 yards, respectively. Durable and complete, Rice was an outstanding blocker and Brady Quinn is drooling at the prospect of watching Rice catch bombs and turn 5-yard slants into 80-yard touchdowns.

6. Cincinnati Bengals, Walter Payton, RB: The Bengals toy with drafting former team icon Anthony Munoz to bolster a terrible offensive line, but Sweetness is too good to pass up. Plus, the Bengals know Payton can excel behind shoddy offensive lines, something he did throughout his remarkable career with the Bears. Payton complements quarterback Carson Palmer and takes pressure off his shoulders while bringing professionalism to a team that desperately needs a dose of it. Like Brown, Payton is a bulldozing running back who also has good speed, great hands and can block. The Bengals are blessed to get him in this spot.

7. Oakland Raiders, Anthony Munoz, T: There are so many glamour skill players available but Tom Cable knows a great offensive line can pave the way for a prolific offense. Munoz is a dominant tackle who should open plenty of holes for a promising ground game while giving Jamarcus Russell something he hasn't had much of during his two years at quarterbackätime. If Al Davis doesn't interfere, Munoz is a great building block for a team that finally is headed in the right direction.

8. Jacksonville Jaguars, Deion Sanders, CB: Love him or hate him, Sanders was the epitome of the lock-down corner and is exactly what this porous defense needs to re-establish itself in the rugged AFC South. When Sanders was in his prime, opponents flat-out ignored him because nearly every time they threw in his direction, Primetime turned it into a Pick 6. True, he couldnát tackle...but hey, when nobody can catch a pass when you are defending, there really is not a glaring need to tackle. Also, plug Sanders in as a punt returner and you have one of the game's most dangerous weapons getting extra touches.

9. Green Bay Packers, Deacon Jones, DE: The original sack master, Jones gives a struggling Packers defense exactly what it needs and that is a dominant pass rusher. Jones likely would be the gameás all-time sack leader if sacks were an official stat in the 60s and 70s and his speed, power and agility made him a handful for any lineman that lined up against him. The Packers have a decent defensive backs and now those backs don't have to worry about covering receivers forever like they did last year. Already good offensively, Jones helps the Packers make a run at a division title.

10. San Francisco 49ERS, Johnny Unitas, QB: The Niners might have more glaring needs but how can they pass up on one of the gameás all-time greats and the ultimate leader? Unitas brings instant respect to a proud franchise that has fallen on hard times and has the ability to make all those around him better, something that endears him to coach Mike Singletary. Unitas dominated an era in which the forward pass still was not in vogue and this surgeon on the field still holds the record for most touchdown passes in consecutive games (47). Devoid of major playmakers outside of running back Frank Gore, the Niners donát have a lot of options for Unitas...but that doesnát matter because JohnnyU will make those around him better and will help make this team great once again.

11. Buffalo Bills, Joe Greene, DT: The Bills are not that far from contending but they need a shot of defense in a division that includes current legend Tom Brady, Greene gives them this. The first pick Chuck Noll made when he took over the Steelers in 1969, Greene provided the foundation for one of the all-time great NFL dynasties, helping the Steelers win four super bowls in six years from 1974-79. A great run-stuffer and a fearsome pass rusher, Greene helped the Steelers develop into arguably, the greatest defense ever and his leadership and intensity inspired those around him, something that should help the Bills flourish.

12. Denver Broncos, Rod Woodson, CB: It's tempting for offensive-minded coach Josh McDaniels to go quarterback here but he understands the defense is what needs a major upgrade and pairing Woodson with Champ Bailey gives Denver the best corner tandem in the game. Woodson, entering the Hall of Fame this August, intercepted 71 passes and is the NFL's all-time leader in interception return yardage as well as a key player on Steeler, Ravens and Raiders teams that either reached or won the super bowl. Woodson also can play safety if necessary where he was an All-Pro and also can give a boost to the special teams since he was a Pro Bowl kick returner.

13. Washington Redskins, John Elway, QB: The Redskins need some defensive help, but they also could use a shot in the passing game and Elway gives them a huge boost there. The big-armed and mobile quarterback is no stranger to helping offenses shine despite not having the greatest receivers and players like Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El will excel in what now looks like a big-play offense. Coupled with Clinton Portis running the ball, Washington drastically increases its offensive firepower and also gets a great leader who excels in so many of the close games Washington has lost the last two seasons. Otto Graham and Sammy Baugh also were considered here, but Washington opts for the most athletic quarterback on the board.

14. New Orleans Saints, Earl Campbell, RB: Saints fans are fuming that they did not select Barry Sanders as their much-needed running back, but Campbell makes more sense since this bruising, yet fast running back gives the Saints a huge clap of thunder to complement Reggie Bushás lightning. The Saints are explosive offensively but lacked that bruising back to grind down opponents, especially lateäuntil now. The wrecking ball that is Campbell dominated opponents despite them constantly loading up against the run and nearly topped 2,000 yards in 1980 while also scoring 10 or more touchdowns in five straight non-strike seasons. With Drew Brees under center and Campbell in the backfield along with Reggie Bush this offense is now officially scary.

15. Houston Texans, Barry Sanders, RB: Ironically, Houston fans were hoping they got their favorite son in Campbell, but still are dancing in the aisles to get a running back of Sanders ability. Sanders would have shattered the NFL rushing record had he not retired in his prime following the 1998 season (a year after topping 2,000 yards) and topped 1,000 yards all 10 years he played despite having porous offensive lines in front of him. The Texans have an emerging passing game and a defense and now Sanders gives them a touchdown threat every time he touches the ball. Barry wants a super bowl ring and, while the Texans still have work to do, they are on the right path to make that happen now that he is on board.

16. San Diego Chargers, Ronnie Lott, S: The Chargers already have a boost with the return of Shawne Merriman up front and now complement that with one of the gameás all-time greatest defensive backs. The fearsome Lott is drafted as a safety but also was an all-pro cornerback so he can fill in there if needed. Lott, the heart and soul of the 49ERS defense during their four super bowl dynasty days in the 1980s, brings a swagger to the defense and makes those around him better and could be the missing piece for this team that has come so close to reaching the Super Bowl the last few years. This Hall of Famer topped 100 tackles five times, intercepted 63 passes and was a pro bowler at three different positions.

17. New York Jets, Dan Marino, QB: The Jets need some playmakers and Marino gives them one of the all-time best. Arguably, the best passer in NFL history, Marino retired with most of the significant passing records, including touchdown passes and yards. Marino never had a productive running game at his disposal, and while Thomas Jones is not flashy he is productive running behind a solid offensive line. The Jets need some receivers too, but Marino has the ability to make average receivers look better. The Jets are solid defensively and if Marino avoids the silly mistakes Brett Favre made last year, the Jets can make a run at the division title.

18. Chicago Bears, Don Hutson, WR: Long forgotten by a society of instant historians, Hutson is the only receiver who can actually be in the same discussion of greatest receiver ever with Jerry Rice. Playing in an era (1935-45) where the forward pass was nearly forgotten, Hutson scored a staggering 99 touchdowns and held 18 receiving records when he retired. The 1941 and 42 NFL MVP, Hutson had great speed and created many of the routes run by today's great receivers. Hutson gives the Bears their first legitimate big-play receiver in a long, long time and makes perennial talented but perenially immature quarterback Jay Cutler happy for now. With Matt Forte at running back, the Bears now have a star-studded offense to complement a solid defense.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sammy Baugh, QB: The rebuilding Bucs desperately need defensive help but when Luke McCown is your projected starter you have to take a quarterbacking legend. Baugh was the best quarterback of his generation in the 1930s and 40s and also was an outstanding punter and defensive back, making him even more appealing to the Bucs who say they will play Slingin Sammy at all three positions. Baugh had touchdown pass seasons of 23, 25 and 22 during his career, which given the conservative era he played in, is outstanding. Baugh was a six-time passing champion and also was the punting and interception leader in 1943 and can fill in at tailback in the Wildcat formation if the Bucs are desperate for a jolt.

20. Dallas Cowboys, Michael Irvin, WR: Dallas needs a wide receiver and a shut-down corner. Mel Blount and Lance Alworth were considered here at corner and receiver, but Jerry Jones canát resist bringing home one of his all-time favorite players. And who else to bolster the offense then 'The Playmaker.' Irvin was controversial, but he also was a winner and an ultimate big-game player who shined when the pressure was highest, helping the Cowboys win three super bowls in four years in the 90s. Irvin is big, physical and quick and is a great blocker, so not only will he stretch the field, but he also will help the running game.

21. Philadelphia Eagles, Chuck Bednarik, C/LB: The Eagles fill a void at center and bolster an offensive line that looks even stronger after the trade for tackle Jason Peters. As a plus, 'Concrete Charlie' also can play linebacker where he was especially dominant. Bednarik is one of the gameás all-time toughest players and will have no trouble playing both ways. He also will make opponents think twice about entering his part of the field and will bolster a running game that has had trouble closing out opponents in recent years. Bednarik was a huge part of the Eagles last world championship team in 1960 and could help them win another.

22. Minnesota Vikings, Otto Graham, QB: The Vikings could use more depth at cornerback, on the o-line and at receiver, but when your starting options are Sage Rosenfels or Tavairis Jackson, you take a quarterback. Graham was the ultimate winner in the 1940s and 50s, leading the Browns to 10 division or league championships in all 10 years he played. Graham quarterbacked the Browns to 10 straight AAFC and NFL championship games, winning three world championships in six seasons after the Browns joined the NFL in 1950. Graham ran for 44 career touchdowns and put up strong passing numbers for his era. Combine him with Adrian Peterson at running back and a strong defense and the Vikings look like a super bowl contender.

23. New England Patriots, Mike Singletary, LB: The Patriots need a linebacker to replace Mike Vrabel and Singletary gives the defense just the spark it needs. One of the best to ever play his position, Singletary was a two-time defensive player of the year and 10-time pro bowler during his 12-year career. The heart of the 1985 world champion Bears defense, Singletary was as smart as he was fast and hard-hitting, a trait that makes him especially appealing to defensive guru Bill Belichick. With Tom Brady returning at quarterback, the offense could be nearly unstoppable again and Singletary's arrival makes the Patriots one of the front runners to capture Super Bowl XLIV.

24. Atlanta Falcons, Gino Marchetti, DE: The offense looks scary with the addition of Tony Gonzalez, but the defense needs a major overhaul and Marchetti brings the pass-rushing, hard-hitting presence that unit sorely lacks. Marchetti was voted the NFLás top defensive end of the first 50 years and was a cornerstone on a Colts defense that won world championships in 1958 and 59. A great leader and a ferocious pass rusher, Marchetti will elevate the play of his fellow defenders and ease the burden on Atlantaás overworked secondary. This pick helps the Falcons take the next step toward a possible super bowl run.

25. Miami Dolphins, Dick "Night Train" Lane, CB: The Dolphins were depleted at cornerback before this selection. Bill Parcells is literally dancing in the aisles after getting one of the all-time great corners this late. Voted the NFLás all-time cornerback in 1969, Lane set the single-season interception record (14) in his rookie season in 1952 and then went on to intercept 68 passes during his standout career and return seven for touchdowns. A hard-hitter who was remarkable in the open field, Lane is the tough kind of player Parcells love and is a shut-down corner who will make the Dolphins defense one of the toughest in the rugged AFC East.

26. Baltimore Ravens, Forrest Gregg, T: Tackle has been a weak point up front for Baltimore the last few years but now it becomes a major strength with the selection of one of the gameás best ever offensive lineman. Gregg received the ultimate compliment when legendary coach Vince Lombardi said he was "the best player I ever coached." Gregg cleared the way for a dominant running game and provided great protection for Bart Starr while playing in 188 straight games and helping the Packers and Cowboys win seven world championships. The Ravens still could use a receiver but this offense will pack a sledge-hammers wallop now just like its defense.

27. Indianapolis Colts, Bob Lilly, DT: The Colts defense has had difficulty stopping the run in years past and needs a more physical presence up front. Enter the man dubbed 'Mr. Cowboy.' The legendary defensive tackle was the anchor on some great Cowboys teams that were in super bowl contention from 1966 through the end of his career in 1974. Lilly was a fierce pass rusher but also a great run stuffer so his selection is a double bonus for a Colts defense that now complements its speed with Lillyás power, agility and intelligence. The offense is aging and needs more depth but is still solid and Lillyás selection puts the Colts right back in the hunt for a super bowl.

28. Carolina Panthers, Fran Tarkenton, QB: The Panthers were very close to taking a defensive end, but could not pass up a legendary quarterback after Jake Delhomme's shaky play last season. Tarkenton likely would be regarded as one of the best quarterbacks ever had he won a super bowl in one of his three appearances but now he has another shot. Super bowls aside, Tarkenton was a legendary player and held the NFL record for completions, yards and touchdown passes when he retired in 1978. Arguably, the best scrambler in NFL history, Tarkenton also ran for 3,674 yards and 32 touchdowns. Now that he has Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad to throw to and Jonathan Stewart and DáAngelo Williams to hand off to, Tarkenton could get his elusive ring.

29. New York Giants, Lance Alworth, WR: In desperate need of a receiver after cutting Plaxico Burress and losing Amani Toomer to retirement, the Giants tap 'Bambi' aptly name for his graceful and stunning moves. As fast and agile as they came in the 1960s, Alworth topped 1,000 yards in seven straight seasons with the Chargers and helped them win the 1963 AFL title. Alworth then helped the Cowboys win their first super bowl in 1971, catching a touchdown pass in that 24-3 win over the Dolphins. Eli Manning is grinning from ear to ear at the thought of throwing long passes to one of the game's all-time playmakers.

30. Tennessee Titans, Paul Warfield, WR: Speaking of playmakers, that is what the Titans have needed in the passing game for years. Jeff Fisher is thrilled to gobble up one of the premier receivers from the 60s and 70s to complement his brutally efficient running game. Warfield was a complete receiver but also was a burner who can stretch the field and make opponents overplay him and open up others, something he effectively did while helping the Dolphins win super bowls in 1972 and 73. Warfield had great hands, ran excellent routes and was a good blocker so he is a natural fit for a potential super bowl contender in 2009.

31. Arizona Cardinals, Gale Sayers, RB: Injuries cut short what could have been one of the best careers any running back ever had. One of the most explosive players to ever play, Sayers is an excellent fit for this already explosive offense which only lacked a top-flight rushing threat. That all changes with a player who can score every time he touches the ball, whether running, catching passes from potential future Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner or returning kicks. Sayers, who once scored six touchdowns in one game, held the NFL record for kick return yardage when he retired in 1971 despite only returning kicks for five years and he also won two rushing titles while being named the NFLás all-time halfback in 1969. Sayers addition could give the Cardinals the NFL's best offense.

32. Pittsburgh Steelers, Bruce Matthews, C/G/T: Offensive line was the Steelers prime weakness during their 2008 super bowl run and Matthews is an ideal fit since he played every position on the line during his standout 19-year career from 1983-2001. Matthews was a Pro Bowler in each of his last 14 seasons, a NFL record, and he earned those selections at center and guard. Matthews was named to the all-1990s team as a guard and helped the Oilers go from laughingstock to perennial contender in the late 80s and early 90s while also helping the Titans reach the 1999 super bowl. The Steelers are aging on the defensive line but are still good enough to get by for a year and Matthews arrival makes the offense better and a possible repeat as world champion more possible.

 
 

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