Note: Capsules by staff of The MMQB. Positions indicated are for the purposes of this draft.


Coach Chuck
Noll
(1969-1991)
Noll doesn’t have the X’s and O’s reputation of Bill Walsh or the leadership stature of Lombardi; his genius, rather, lay in identifying and managing talent—a coach with the “disposition and inclinations of a teacher,” according to SI’s Paul Zimmerman. Noll’s understated but unquestioned authority was the guiding force behind the Steelers’ rise to dominance in the ’70s, as his contentious but ultimately winning relationship with quarterback Terry Bradshaw attests. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.

Offense

QB Tom
Brady
(2000- )
Greatest quarterback of all time? Arguably. Greatest sixth-round pick? No doubt. Brady’s career is bracketed by Super Bowl titles 15 years apart, with three other Lombardis in-between. The all-time leader in postseason appearances, he’s won 14 division titles, two league MVPs and four Super Bowl MVP awards. He also has the second-lowest interception rate in history.
RB Gale
Sayers
(1965-1971)
The Kansas Comet’s career was cut short by injury, but his electrifying ability over his first five seasons with the Bears warranted his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1977 at the age of just 34. Noted for his elusiveness, speed and open-field playmaking, Sayers packed the Rookie of the Year award, five All-Pro selections and two rushing titles into a phenomenal stretch from 1965 to ’ 69. What he could have accomplished had he stayed healthy is one of football’s great what-might-have-beens.
RB Franco
Harris
(1972-1984)
An integral part of the Steelers’ 1970s dominance, Harris was powerful and surprisingly quick and nimble for his size (6’2”, 230). Critics of his penchant for slipping out of bounds rather than absorbing a hit overlook his longevity, his strengths as a receiver and his big-game savvy. He is the career Super Bowl rushing leader, was MVP of Super Bowl IX, in which he rushed for 158 yards on 34 carries, and his Immaculate Reception to win the 1972 playoff game against the Raiders is considered one of the greatest plays in NFL history. Second all-time in rushing when he retired, Harris was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.
WR Steve
Largent
(1976-1989)
A model of consistency at wide receiver, the 1988 NFL Man of the Year had at least one reception in 177 straight games for the Seahawks, and at the time of his retirement, his 100 career receiving touchdowns were most in NFL history. Largent was named to seven Pro Bowls in his 14 seasons with Seattle; after his retirement he spent eight years in the U.S. Congress. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1995.
WR Larry
Fitzgerald
(2004- )
David Johnson may be making waves in Arizona, but he has a long way to go to overtake Fitzgerald as the greatest Cardinal of all time. Still going strong at 33, Fitzgerald led the league in receptions in 2016, a feat made more impressive by the fact that he had already accomplished it once before, 11 years earlier in 2005. Spectacular and spectacularly consistent, Fitzgerald led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009, and his 1,125 receptions rank third all-time. He has been named to 10 Pro Bowls.
TE Jason
Witten
(2003- )
Were it not for Tony Gonzalez, Witten would lead all tight ends in career receptions and receiving yards. As things stand, Witten is a 10-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro. His 1,089 receptions are seventh-most by any player in NFL history and a Cowboys record. Tough and dependable as they come, the Tennessee native is one of the best all-around tight ends in league history and deserves the chance to play in a Super Bowl before he hangs up his pads.
T Joe
Thomas
(2007- )
The Browns have had 18 starting quarterbacks since 2007, and just one left tackle. Consistently the best player on some dismal Cleveland teams, Thomas has not missed a snap since he entered the league. He is a six–time All-Pro and has been selected to the Pro Bowl all 10 seasons of his career.
G Bob
Kuechenberg
(1970-1983)
A Miami mainstay for 14 seasons, Kuechenberg played in four Super Bowls and won two (VII, VIII). He protected Bob Griese and helped clear the way for Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris on the powerful Dolphins teams of the ’70s, and he spent his final season blocking for rookie Dan Marino in 1983. A six-time Pro Bowler, he is yet to join fellow Dolphins linemen Jim Langer, Larry Little and Dwight Stephenson in Canton.
C Chuck
Bednarik
(1949-1962)
The last great two-way player—center and linebacker for the Eagles for 14 seasons—Bednarik earned the nickname Concrete Charlie for his playing style, and for his off-season job as a concrete salesman. Quick-footed and powerful at 6’3” and 235 pounds, Bednarik was a five-time All-Pro and an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967.
G Joe
Delamielleure
(1973-1985)
Delamielleure spent his prime years with the Bills as part of the offensive line that paved the way for O.J. Simpson—a unit dubbed The Electric Company because it “turned on the Juice.” Delamielleure was a rookie guard on the 1973 Bills when Simpson became the first player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. A three-time All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowl pick and member of the Hall of Fame’s All-1970s team, Delamielleure earned a spot in Canton in 2002.
T Gary
Zimmerman
(1986-1997)
After two seasons blocking for Steve Young in the USFL, Zimmerman moved to the NFL and anchored the left side of the line for the Vikings and Broncos, capping his stellar 12-year NFL career with a Super Bowl win alongside John Elway. The three-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler, famed for his refusal to engage with the media, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008, one of four former USFL players enshrined.




Defense

DE JJ
Watt
(2011- )
All but unblockable when healthy, the four-time All-Pro singlehandedly takes over games from his roving spot across the Texans’ defensive line. Watt’s .92 sacks per game (76 in 83 games) is the highest ratio since the stat became official in 1982, and he is the only player officially to have two 20-plus-sack seasons. Oh yeah, he also has three receptions, all for touchdowns.
DE Carl
Eller
(1964-1979)
Eller played all but one of his 16 NFL seasons for the Vikings, with whom he won the final pre-merger championship, in 1969. Setting the left edge for the Vikings’ defensive line of “Purple People Eaters,” Eller was the 1971 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and earned first- or second-team All-Pro honors every year from 1967 to 1973. The six-time Pro Bowler entered the Hall of Fame in 2004.
DT Bryant
Young
(1994-2007)
Drafted seventh overall in 1994 by a San Francisco team that would go on to win Super Bowl XXIX that season, Young played his entire 14-year career for the 49ers. He was one of the league’s premier interior linemen for most of that time, earning All-Pro honors in 1996, four Pro Bowl berths and a spot on the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade second team.
DT Dan
Hampton
(1979-1990)
Nicknamed “Danimal”—and you can guess why—Hampton racked up an impressive 57 sacks as a defensive tackle over the course of 12 seasons with the Bears. A four-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro selection in 1984, Hampton was a member of the Super Bowl XX champion ’85 Bears defense, often considered the best single-season defense in league history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
LB Jack
Lambert
(1974-1984)
Smart, ferocious and freakishly athletic at just 220 pounds, Lambert keyed Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense as a prototypical Cover 2 middle linebacker, devouring running backs and QBs or dropping deep into coverage as needed. “His first step is never wrong, his techniques have always been perfect,” said teammate Andy Russell. The 1974 Defensive Rookie of the Year, 1976 Defensive Player of the Year, six-time All-Pro and four-time Super Bowl champion was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.
LB Kevin
Greene
(1985-1999)
Greene played for four teams over the course of 15 NFL seasons and made the Pro Bowl with three of them—the Rams, Steelers and Panthers. A fifth-rounder out of Auburn in 1985, he was initially deployed at defensive end but flourished when moved to outside linebacker. Greene twice led the league in sacks, in 1994 and 1996, the latter effort earning him NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. His 160 career sacks are third-best since the stat became official in 1982. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
LB Chuck
Bednarik
(1949-1962)
The last great two-way player—center and linebacker for the Eagles for 14 seasons—Bednarik earned the nickname Concrete Charlie for his playing style, and for his off-season job as a concrete salesman. Quick-footed and powerful at 6’3” and 235 pounds, Bednarik was a five-time All-Pro and an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967.
CB Dick

“Night Train”

Lane
(1952-1965)
The model for the smothering, physical bump-and-run cornerback, Lane was famed for the “Night Train Necktie,” a since-outlawed clothesline tackling style. His 14 interceptions (in 12 games) as a rookie in 1952 remain one of sports’ longest-standing records; his 68 career INTs are fourth all-time. A three-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl pick, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970.
CB Lester
Hayes
(1977-1986)
Hayes won two Super Bowls with the Raiders, for whom he played his entire career 10-year career. The five-time Pro Bowler was named All-Pro in 1980; his 13 interceptions that year are tied for second-most all-time and earned him Defensive Player of the Year honors. A clingy cornerback, Hayes’ notorious use of Stickum, with which he would slather his hands, arms and jersey before games, helped lead to a prohibition of the gooey substance.
S Troy
Polamalu
(2003-2014)
The “Flyin’ Hawaiian” (actually of Samoan descent) played the safety position like no one else ever has. His distinctive hair pouring out of his helmet, Polamalu flew into tackles and pass breakups with abandon, sometimes vaulting clear over the offensive line on blitzes. He played the entirety of his 12-year career with the Steelers, the on-field leader of one of the league’s most consistently formidable defenses. A four-time All-Pro, eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion, Polamalu was named the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
S Brian
Dawkins
(1996-2011)
Nicknamed “Weapon X” by fans in Philly, where he played 13 of his 16 stellar seasons, Dawkins was known as a ball-hawk capable of delivering a punishing hit. His 37 career interceptions, 36 forced fumbles and 26 sacks attest to his all-around prowess. SI’s Paul Zimmerman said Dawkins “does everything—blitzes, hits with real force, locks on to tight coverage downfield, and seems to have an electric effect on everybody around him.” A four-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowl selection, Dawkins was a 2017 Hall of Fame finalist. He’ll be in Canton soon.




Special Teams/Wild Card

K Adam
Vinatieri
(1996- )
At 44, Vinatieri is the NFL’s oldest active player, with a list of accomplishments that span all 21 of his seasons—split almost equally between the Patriots and Colts—and a reputation as one of the most reliable and clutch players in league history. The three-time All-Pro hit game-winning field goals in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVII for New England, as well as the tying and winning kicks in the snow in the infamous “Tuck Rule” game, and he holds the NFL records for postseason points scored, postseason field goals made and Super Bowl field goals made. It is a special kicker who earns a bust in Canton; Vinatieri will assuredly be so honored.
P Andy
Lee
(2004- )
Drafted by San Francisco in the sixth round in 2004, Lee has been a productive punter for the 49ers, Browns and Panthers over the last decade, earning three All-Pro nods and three Pro Bowl selections. His career 46.9-yard average is ninth all-time.
WC Steve
Gleason
(2000-2006)
Undrafted in 2000, Gleason won a roster spot with the Saints as an undersized linebacker and special teams ace through grit and determination, and played for New Orleans for eight seasons. His blocked punt that led to a touchdown against the Falcons in the Saints’ first home game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina was one of those inspirational moments that transcend sports. Since developing ALS, Gleason has dedicated himself to raising awareness of the ailment and to the care and treatment of his fellow sufferers through his foundation.
WC Darren
Sproles
(2005- )
At 5’6”, 190 pounds, Sproles’ surprising longevity—11 seasons with the Chargers, Saints and Eagles—is a testament to his value as an electric and shifty playmaker out of the backfield and on kick returns. In 2011 he set the NFL single-season record for all-purpose yards, with 2,696. He is eighth all-time in career all-purpose yards and has 525 career receptions—good for 10th all-time among running backs. Sproles, who has been named to the last three Pro Bowls, announced that he will retire after the 2017 season.