Who would you put on your all-time team?
Which legends would you choose, if you could only add one from each of the 32 franchises? That's right: no Montana AND Rice. No Watt AND Johnson. One, or the other. Or even someone else, depending on your draft strategy.
Along with John Harris, I host a weekly podcast called 'In the Lab'. We try to dig a little deeper on topics, mainly regarding the Texans, but in the offseason we meander. Currently we're in the middle of a fun little project where we're drafting an all-time squad and doing so by choosing one player only from each of the 32 franchises.
We started two weeks ago and each made eight picks. John, as you'll see below, went heavy in the trenches. He spent seven of his first eight picks on an offensive or defensive lineman. I, on the other hand, bounced around a bit. In many instances, we each went with undisputed legends where we thought there was a major dropoff after that player.
The rules were pretty simple: one player only from a franchise. Also, no double-dipping. I chose Deion Sanders of the Falcons with my first pick, so John couldn't choose the Deion Sanders of the 49ers, Cowboys, Ravens or Washington. Once a player is chosen, he's off the board.
By the time we finish this week's Draft, we'll be halfway done. Below is a mini-breakdown of our picks so far. John had the first pick to start, and I'll get the first pick in the second round.
JH 1: OT Anthony Munoz, Cincinnati Bengals - He took perhaps the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history, and easily the best Bengal of all-time. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was an All-Pro nine times and will be an anchor for John's offense.
DD 1: CB Deion Sanders, Atlanta Falcons - Many birds were killed with this epic stone. I get a shutdown corner, I get the greatest Falcon ever (with all apologies to Tommy Nobis, Matt Ryan and Jeff Van Note), and I also get an electrifying return man as well.
JH 2: OL Larry Allen, Dallas Cowboys - John went with one of the greatest offensive linemen ever, and left me with a delicious choice of Hall of Famers when I wind up picking a Cowboy later on in my Draft. Allen was a Pro Bowler 11 times, and could bench press an 18-wheeler.
DD 2: EDGE Lawrence Taylor, New York Giants - Easily the greatest Giant of all time, he's also the only 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year not named J.J. Watt or Aaron Donald. Taylor was a force, and I know I'll have a lethal pass rush with the 8-time All-Pro.
JH 3: DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans - Speaking of Watt, John took him off the board. The future Hall of Famer is the first defensive piece for John's team, and will be a headache for opposing offenses.
DD 3: RB Jim Brown, Cleveland Browns - My dad always said Brown was the best football player he ever saw. He's easily the greatest Brown ever, and his stats are eye-popping: he led the NFL in rushing EVERY year he played, save for one. After his ninth season, when he rumbled for 1,544 yards and 17 touchdowns...he walked away from the game for good.
JH 4: DT Aaron Donald, Los Angeles/Saint Louis Rams - Gulp. Donald and Watt are on the same defensive line. The 1-Man Gang, will actually have a gang around him. Donald somehow has 85.5 career sacks in just seven seasons, despite playing on the inside.
DD 4: OL Bruce Matthews, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans - I know, I know: this might be sacrilege. I chose an Oiler, and I did NOT choose Earl Campbell. I love the Tyler Rose like anybody else, but I already have Brown, and I really need to make sure my offensive line is good, so I went with Matthews. A Pro Bowler at each of the five spots up front in his career, I'll play him at center or either of the guard spots. That excellence, and versatility, gives me flexibility later in the Draft.
JH 5: C Dwight Stephenson, Miami Dolphins - John bolsters his offensive front by going with one of the greatest centers ever. An All-Pro four times, Harris gets one of the greatest ever to snap the ball. But it won't be to Dan Marino.
DD 5: LT Walter Jones, Seattle Seahawks - I need a left tackle, and this guy locked it down on the blindside for a decade-plus. My pal, and original Texan Chester Pitts, maintains Jones is the greatest to ever do it. If Chester says so, then I'm cool with using my Seahawks selection on him.
JH 6: OL Randall McDaniel, Minnesota Vikings - John continued to build his wall on offense by going with McDaniel, the left guard who made it to a dozen Pro Bowls, and was named All-Pro seven times. He also played 16 games per season, every year from 1990 through his last year in the League, which was 2001.
DD 6: WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions - Megatron wasn't in the League long, but he sure was spectacular. Johnson averaged just under 1,300 yards and just over nine touchdowns per season. He was also good for 15.9 yards per catch.
JH 7: OL Tony Boselli, Jacksonville Jaguars - The Jags are a young franchise, and Boselli will soon be a Hall of Famer. The left tackle was an incredibly tough guy to deal with for opposing defenders, and he rounds out John's o-line quite nicely.
DD 7: DE Reggie White, Philadelphia Eagles - The Minister of Defense blessed many, many quarterbacks in his NFL career. 21 of his 198 career sacks came in a 12-game 1987 season. Twice he was an NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
JH 8: LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers - With his final pick of the first round, he went back to the young franchise well, and snapped up linebacker Luke Kuechly. A tackling machine, the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year and 5-time All-Pro also came away with the ball 27 times in his career, if you add up his fumble recoveries and interceptions.
DD 8: RT Forrest Gregg, Green Bay Packers - One of the finest offensive linemen of all time, I have two anchors on the edge up front with the 7-time selection to the All-Pro squad. Vince Lombardi, who knew a thing or two or three about football, used an exclamation point in his book when he said "Forrest Gregg is the finest player I ever coached!" That's good enough for me.