How would you go about building an NFL team if you could draw from a pool of every player in football history? How would Tom Brady, J.J. Watt and Adrian Peterson stack up against the likes of Johnny Unitas, Joe Greene and Jim Brown? Do you go heavy on defense early, knowing you might get an all-time QB down the road, or do you jump on the passer of your dreams? And, most compellingly, who would go No. 1 in a hypothetical draft of all-time players?
The MMQB set about answering these questions with an intriguing project. This spring we assembled a 12-man panel of personnel experts, football historians and longtime writers to stage The MMQB All-Time NFL Draft—12 “GMs,” constructing a squad—offense, defense and special teams—from the roster of every player in pro football history.
• Each team would select 25 players and one coach. Twenty-five rounds, plus a round (in reverse draft order) for the coaches.
• Each team would field 11 players on offense and 11 on defense, plus a placekicker and a punter. In addition, (at least) one wild-card player would be selected.
• Each team must draft one QB, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, two tackles, two guards and a center.
• The defense could be either a 4-3 or a 3-4, plus two cornerbacks and two safeties.
• If a GM selected a player who played two positions (for instance, center and linebacker, or kicker and punter), the GM could deploy that player at both spots, allowing for another wild-card pick.
• Conceptually, the process would be era-neutral. The assumption was that players who excelled in one era would be equally good in any other.
• The primary purpose was to have fun.
1. Joel Bussert. Former longtime head of the NFL’s player personnel department.
2. Ron Wolf. Hall of Fame NFL executive.
3. Rick Gosselin. Longtime Dallas Morning News football writer and Hall of Fame voter.
4. Dan Fouts. Hall of Fame quarterback and Hall of Fame voter.
5. John Turney. Highly respected football historian from Pro Football Journal.
6. Gil Brandt. Pioneering scout and personnel executive.
7. Bob McGinn. Packers beat writer for 38 seasons.
8. Joe Horrigan. Vice president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
9. Peter King. Editor-in-chief of The MMQB and Hall of Fame voter.
10. Bill Polian. Six-time NFL executive of the year and Pro Football Hall of Famer.
11. John Wooten. Longtime player, NFL scout and director of The Fritz Pollard Alliance.
12. Ernie Accorsi. Former GM of the Colts, Browns and Giants.