All-Time 2017 NFL Draft: What If Every Player Ever Was Available?

All-Time 2017 NFL Draft: What If Every Player Ever Was Available?

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All-Time 2017 NFL Draft: What If Every Player Ever Was Available?

All-Time 2017 NFL Draft: What Would’ve Happened?


What if the teams in this year’s draft had their pick of every draft eligible player ever? What would’ve happened?


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2017 NFL Draft Position Rankings
From the college perspective
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OTs | OGs & Cs
DEs | DTs | OLBs | ILBs | CBs | Safeties
2018 Top Ten NFL Draft Prospects
2016 NFL Final Mock Draft

Really? You think the Bears would’ve traded up for Mitchell Trubisky if John Elway was available?

What about if Peyton Manning was on the board for San Francisco at the two?

Let’s say every draft eligible player ever was on the board and available for the teams in the 2017 NFL Draft. Knowing what we now know about team needs, wants, and desires after how the first round went, what if they could choose from any prospect in NFL history? How would that first round have gone?

Two rules before kicking this off.

1. This is only based on the player as a prospect and not NFL production.

Of course Tom Brady would be a top five overall pick, if not No. 1, but coming out of Michigan he was just some goofy skinny kid who with a sixth round evaluation.

We don’t know that Joe Montana would be Joe Montana, or that Terrell Davis would be a Hall of Fame back. Jerry Rice was a 16th overall pick in 1985 – he’d have been No. 1 overall if anyone knew he’d be Jerry Rice. This is all based on how the prospects were projected and analyzed coming out of college.

2. The prospects are taken as is, but for the modern day. 

John Hannah might have been one of the greatest offensive linemen of all-time, but he played at 6-2 and 265 pounds. Alan Page was an all-time great defensive tackle – at 245 pounds. The guys taken have to be ready for now – and there’s no projecting that a player would’ve been bulked up or with a different body type.

But some of the all-time greats could’ve played in today’s game no matter what. You’ll see how this goes.

Of course this is all based on opinion and speculation, but it’s all coming from the stacks and stacks of old school scouting reports I have nerded up in my closet along with a bajillion books and magazines from Pro Football Weekly – I worked there for six years – and the late, great Joel Buchsbaum.

1. Cleveland Browns

Team Needs: Quarterback, Defensive End

QB John Elway, Stanford, 1983

The scouting reports about Elway back in the day were like love letters.

No, he didn’t take Stanford to a bowl game – a certain Cal-Stanford band game had something to do with that – and the knocks were that he was a bit too brash and might have been more into baseball, but there’s never been a more perfect quarterback prospect.

6-3, all-timer arm, extremely mobile, coached up by his father – football coach Jack Elway – it was all there as the sure-thing of all sure-things. He’s the gold standard for NFL quarterback prospects.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Team Needs: Quarterback, Defensive End

QB Andrew Luck, Stanford, 2012

There’s no trading out of the No. 2 in this draft with one of the Stanford quarterbacks still alive.

The sure-thing of sure-things in terms of tools, talent and smarts, he’s the only one to rival Elway as a can’t-miss ideal of what an NFL quarterback should be. The consummate leader with everything you could ever want for the position, Cleveland would’ve had to give him some thought at the No. 1

3. Chicago Bears

Team Needs: Quarterback, Safety

QB Peyton Manning, Tennessee, 1998

Everyone tried to find knocks on him – didn’t beat Florida, some questioned the arm strength a bit, no real athleticism – but mostly, he was questioned because of comparisons to the bigger, stronger Ryan Leaf.

But in terms of his mind, his pedigree, and his pure passing skills, there really weren’t any question marks. He was such an obvious pick that there had to be holes to poke in his game – but the Bears would’ve still gone with him here.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Team Needs: Running Back, Offensive Lineman

RB Herschel Walker, Georgia, 1983

There might have been some consideration for SMU’s Eric Dickerson or Auburn’s Bo Jackson, but Walker was the prototype NFL back with the larger-than-life persona, reputation and talent. At 6-1, 225 pounds with world-class speed, he really was Superman.

Had he stayed around for his senior year at Georgia – instead of joining Donald Trump’s USFL New Jersey Generals – he would’ve set the all-time NCAA rushing record that wouldn’t have been touched.

5. Tennessee Titans

Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Defensive Back

WR Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech, 2007

There’d be some consideration for Keyshawn Johnson, but Calvin Johnson was freakish at a whole other level. 6-5, 240-pound wideouts with his skills who run a 4.3 just don’t exist.

He might have gone second in the 2007 NFL Draft after JaMarcus Russell, but Megatron was considered as can’t-miss as it got for a receiver.

6. New York Jets

Team Needs: Quarterback, Offensive Tackle

QB Cam Newton, Auburn, 2011

The speculation would be insane for this spot.

Eli Manning or Troy Aikman would be the safe, easy choice. Vinny Testaverde has all the skills to be a franchise star, and Ryan Leaf is the shot for something truly special. But Cam’s tools are far too good to deny here.

The new prototype, there might be questions about his character coming out of Auburn, but with his size, running ability and arm, he’s the gamechanger.

7. Los Angeles Chargers

Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Safety

OT Orlando Pace, Ohio State, 1997

The media would be hyping up the idea of Keyshawn Johnson staying at home to be the target the offense desperately needs, but Pace is the cleanest and most dominant offensive tackle available. Wide receivers will be available later – the Chargers need the guy to keep Phil Rivers in one piece.

8. Carolina Panthers

Team Needs: Offensive Line, Defensive Line

DE Julius Peppers, North Carolina, 2002

Bo Jackson is still on the board to solve the Panther running back concerns, and Lawrence Taylor is the dream of a pass rushing hybrid to work on the outside, but Peppers is too big, too athletic, and with too much upside not to be the pick to stay close to home.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Defensive End

DE Lawrence Taylor, North Carolina, 1981

There are some off-the-field concerns, but Cincinnati never has a problem with players with a few issues.  He doesn’t quite fit the true defensive end mold like a Mario Williams or Myles Garrett, but in terms of being a pure pass rushing dynamo of a prospect, there had never been anyone who made jaws drop.

10. Kansas City (trade with Buffalo)

Team Needs: Linebacker, Quarterback

QB Jeff George, Illinois, 1990

Everyone assumes Kansas City traded up to snag Leaf, Eli or Aikman, but instead, after what some scouts called the greatest pro day individual workout they ever saw, George and his otherworldly arm would be Andy Reid’s franchise-maker.

11. New Orleans Saints

Team Needs: Cornerback, Linebacker

CB Deion Sanders, Florida State, 1989

This might seem like a wee bit of a reach this early – after all, he was the fifth pick in the 1989 NFL Draft – but there’s never been a more perfect corner prospect.

New Orleans desperately needs help on the outside, and while Primetime might be known as being a bit too brash and arrogant, he’s also the ideal dream combination of speed and ball skills.

12. Houston Texans (trade with Cleveland)

Team Needs: Quarterback, Linebacker

QB Ryan Leaf, Washington State, 1998

Enough is enough. Sitting there in the green room waiting to be called much earlier, Leaf is finally taken. After the Chiefs didn’t take the Wazzu star, Bill O’Brien and company sold out to move up to take one of the purest passers available, with the size and upside to potentially be the best bomber in this draft. What could possibly go wrong?

13. Arizona Cardinals

Team Needs: Linebacker, Quarterback

QB Troy Aikman, UCLA, 1989

There might be some thought to give Carson Palmer some more help, but considering Aikman slid this far – and Leaf went the pick before – the Cardinals won’t take any chances on missing out on one of the cleanest quarterback prospects in the draft.

2017 NFL Draft Position Rankings
From the college perspective
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OTs | OGs & Cs
DEs | DTs | OLBs | ILBs | CBs | Safeties
2018 Top Ten NFL Draft Prospects

14. Philadelphia Eagles

Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Defensive Back

RB Bo Jackson, Auburn, 1986

Keyshawn Johnson is still on the board as a possible No. 1 target for Carson Wentz, but the Eagles could use a franchise running back to take the heat off. He’s got the size and speed to be an all-time great, but can Philly keep him from playing baseball?

15. Indianapolis Colts

Team Needs: Offensive Tackle, Running Back

OT Tony Mandarich, Michigan State, 1989

One of the biggest sliders, there was some thought that the 6-5, 325-pound punisher with an attitude might go in the top five. Instead, the Colts have the massive athletic offensive tackle to protect Andrew Luck. What could possibly go wrong?

16. Baltimore Ravens

Team Needs: Linebacker, Wide Receiver

LB Von Miller, Texas A&M, 2011

Blowing off those who thought he was a bit overrated as a one-trick guy (cough … hand embarrassingly raised … cough), he was a flawless prospect in terms of burst off the ball and flash into the backfield, is there any concerns about his position? Is he an oversized linebacker or an undersized end? It doesn’t matter – turn him loose, and he’ll get into the backfield.

17. Washington Redskins

Team Needs: Defensive End, Linebacker

RB O.J. Simpson, USC, 1969

Team Needs: Defensive End, Linebacker

Some might clamor for a top quarterback here, but there’s no passing up on a generational rushing talent. One of the shocking sliders in the first round, Simpson and his elusive track star speed and home run hitting ability is the perfect back to work an offense around. With 212-pound size, he can take a beating, too, able to run inside or out.

18. Tennessee Titans

Team Needs: Defensive Back, Linebacker

DE Bruce Smith, Virginia Tech, 1985

Okay, Dick LeBeau. You want a pass rushing defensive end on the outside? Here you go.

Mario Williams and Myles Garrett would be in the discussion, but Smith is a pure playmaker into the backfield. The two-time All-American was the definition of unblockable for the Hokies.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Team Needs: Defensive End, Running Back

DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M, 2017

It might be fun to see what Keyshawn Johnson could do as a No. 1 target for Jameis, and Marshall Faulk might be the ideal fit for the offense, but the Bucs need defensive end help. Garrett – to go cliche – checks every possible box.

20. Denver Broncos

Team Needs: Offensive Tackle, Linebacker

OT Tony Boselli, USC, 1995

In terms of pure talent, Anthony Munoz would be a consideration, but he’s just too light at just 275 pounds. It could come down to a war room coin flip between Iowa’s Robert Gallery and Boselli, with the USC star – a bit of a better pass protector – getting the call at the last second.

21. Detroit Lions

Team Needs: Defensive End, Wide Receiver

DE Mario Williams, NC State, 2006

Yoink. Ecstatic that he lasted this long, athletic pass rushers with this size and this upside are rare. There might be other good options on the board – Andre Wadsworth and Courtney Brown would be considered – but Williams is a dream to get here.

22. Miami Dolphins

Team Needs: Defensive End, Linebacker

DE Andre Wadsworth, Florida State, 1998

The answer to a great trivia question: who went after Manning and Leaf in 1998? At the time, some thought Wadsworth might have been the best pro prospect in the draft as a high-character, out-of-central-casting pass rusher on the outside. The Dolphins need one of those.

23. New York Giants

Team Needs: Offensive Tackle, Running Back

RB Earl Campbell, Texas, 1978

A true bell-cow of a bruiser, Campbell is the exact type of franchise running back who can take the pressure off the passing game and carry the attack. You want power? There’s never been anyone coming out with a better combination of blast and quick feet.

24. Oakland Raiders

Team Needs: Cornerback, Linebacker

LB LaVar Arrington, Penn State, 2000

Needing a corner, there will be some thought about taking Shawn Springs out of Ohio State, but the Raiders would pair Arrington in the linebacking corps with Khalil Mack and terrorize opposing backfields. And, of course, Arrington fits the Raider style.

25. Cleveland (trade from Houston)

RB Eric Dickerson, SMU, 1983

Team Needs: Defensive End, Linebacker

If John Elway was considered one of the greatest prospects of all-time, who went No. 2 in 1983?

If Dickerson slides here, he’s a no-brainer. Smooth as silk, fast, and able to hit the home run every time he touches the ball, Cleveland’s  running back issues should be solved.

26. Atlanta Falcons (trade from Seattle)

Team Needs: Offensive Guard, Defensive Tackle

DT Steve Emtman, Washington, 1990

Do the Falcons want the size of Cortez Kennedy, or do they take the all-around fearsome dominance of an all-around talent in Emtman? There’s all-timer potential in Emtman – if he can stay healthy.

27. Buffalo Bills (trade from Kansas City)

Team Needs: Wide Receiver, Cornerback

QB Vinny Testaverde, Miami, 1987

Keyshawn Johnson keeps sliding, but the Bills will be ecstatic to have their pick of good quarterbacks after trading down. Eli? Steve McNair? Testaverde is the all-around passer with all the tools and athleticism, but he has to keep the picks in check.

28. Dallas Cowboys

Team Needs: Defensive Back, Tight End

WR Keyshawn Johnson, USC, 1996

He absolutely fits everything the Cowboys need. He’s a potentially dominant No. 2 target on the other side of Dez Bryant with size, physical toughness, and the want-to to be a superstar for a franchise that loves superstars. And, of course, just give him the damn ball.

29. Green Bay Packers

Team Needs: Running Back, Linebacker

RB Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, 1989

Sanders isn’t the perfect prospect. He’s a system guy, he’s too small, and does he bring any power? The stats are undeniable, but opinions are a bit mixed. With his speed and quickness, though, get him in Green Bay and look out.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers

Team Needs: Linebacker, Cornerback

LB Cornelius Bennett, Alabama, 1987

In a dream world, the Steelers were hoping Von Miller would fall here as the hybrid pass rusher on the outside they wanted. Bennett might not be the same sort of playmaker behind the line – and there would be some thought to taking Jadeveon Clowney – but he fits what the Steelers are looking for.

31. Seattle Seahawks (trade with Atlanta)

Team Needs: Offensive Tackle, Linebacker

OT Joe Thomas, Wisconsin, 2007

The Seahawks wouldn’t have traded out of this pick if they could get their franchise offensive tackle. Jake Long and Robert Gallery would be in the discussion, but Thomas has absolutely no flaws – he only went third because Oakland needed a QB and took JaMarcus Russell, and Detroit took Calvin Johnson.

32. New Orleans Saints

Team Needs: Linebacker, Defensive Line

QB Eli Manning, Ole Miss, 2004

Yeah, the Saints need more help for one big push, but they also need the next guy up after Drew Brees. Manning wasn’t considered the prospect the other Manning was, but he’s a definite all-time first rounder in terms of skills. He’s a sure-thing.

2017 NFL Draft Position Rankings
From the college perspective
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OTs | OGs & Cs
DEs | DTs | OLBs | ILBs | CBs | Safeties
2018 Top Ten NFL Draft Prospects

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