The Draft is over.
Not the real one, which begins April 29.
But the nerd version that John Harris and I just completed for our weekly 'In the Lab' podcast. We each picked a player from every NFL franchise. 32 players apiece, for the two of us. We had to be creative because some franchises have pumped out Hall of Famers (Bears, Packers, Steelers, etc) while others are lacking.
Yes, we know players from the 1930's would struggle to make a current roster. But who they were when they played, and their impact on the game at the time, was taken into account and adjusted for current times. We broke the process into four rounds of eight picks apiece, and took turns taking the first pick twice.
Here's how the final eight picks went for each of us. Since John had the first overall pick, and the first pick of the third round, it was my turn to go first in this final round.
DD 25 - WR Andre Johnson, Texans - Johnson and J.J. Watt are the two best players in franchise history. With Watt off the board, and with just one receiver--Calvin Johnson--on my roster, this was an easy decision. Andre Johnson, despite being the focal point of the offense for a decade, consistently found ways to get wide open. Like, nobody within 10 yards of him, wide open. It's one of many reasons he cranked out a trio of 1,500-plus receiving yards seasons, and another with over 1,400. I'll take him on my team any day.
JH 25 - DE Michael Strahan, Giants - With LT off the board, it's tough to argue with this one. Three different years he led the NFL in sacks, and in 2001 he was the League's Defensive Player of the Year. Strahan, and his 141.5 career sacks, will bring Harris' defense some more pass rush help.
DD 26 - CB Ken Riley, Bengals - Harris took left tackle Anthony Munoz from the Bengals early in the Draft. I was hard-pressed to find another legend from Cincinnati. But Riley is tied for fifth in NFL history with 65 career interceptions. He took five of those to the house for touchdowns. Riley also recovered 18 fumbles in his career, so he'll slide in nicely to my secondary.
JH26 - CB/S Rod Woodson, Steelers - Woodson was a ballhawk. Who could pop you. The 1993 Defensive Player of the Year picked off 71 passes in his career and recovered 32 fumbles. Between picks, fumble recoveries, and a brilliant side gig as a return man, Woodson found the end zone 17 times in his 17-year career.
DD 27 - P/QB/S - Sammy Baugh, Washington - Slingin' Sammy is so legndary, there's a trophy named after him and he starred in movies. Those two things happened, though, because he was otherworldly when he played pro football. He was the best quarterback, punter and safety in the game when he played from the late 1930's through the early 1950's. He'll definitely punt on my team, but also be a weapon on each side of the ball as well.
JH 27 - CB Mike Haynes, Raiders - The Hall of Famer snared 46 interceptions in his career, which was split between the Patriots and Raiders. Nine times a Pro Bowler, he's also capable of returning punts, which he did for better than 10 yards per, in his 14 NFL seasons.
DD 28 - RB Thurman Thomas, Bills - I need a third running back, and I need a Buffalo Bill. Easy. I'll take Thomas, his 65 rushing scores, 23 touchdown catches, and 91 yards from scrimmage per game and plug the Hall of Famer into my offense. He's a nice complement to Jim Brown and Walter Payton.
JH 28 - S Brian Dawkins, Eagles - The 16-year veteran sailed into the Hall of Fame with nine Pro Bowl appearances and 37 career picks on his resume.
DD 29 - TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots - It was excruciating to pass on Tom Brady here. But I think Gronk is the best tight end in the history of the world, and I held my breath every time the ball was thrown his way when he played against the Texans. He's logged five seasons with double-digit touchdown catches, has 86 all-time, and has averaged 15 yards per reception in his career. He's also a hell of a blocker. Mismatch City when he's on your squad.
JH 29 - OT Willie Roaf, Saints - 11 times a Pro Bowler, Roaf was a fixture on the left side for the Saints and Chiefs in a brilliant 13-year career. Harris' already-rugged offensive line got a bit more beef with Roaf.
DD 30 - OL Jim Parker, Colts - It was also excruciating to pass on Johnny Unitas here, but I have to make sure there's some depth with excellence on my o-line. For that, I turned to Parker, who as an All-Pro EIGHT times with the Baltimore Colts. He played multiple spots up front, and played them brilliantly.
JH 30 - LB Bobby Bell, Chiefs - Bell was a 6-time All-Pro, and picked off 26 passes in his career at linebacker. Harris' linebacker corps is swift! Bell also scored eight touchdowns in his career off of picks and fumble recoveries.
DD 31 - WR Paul Warfield, Dolphins - It was incredibly excruciating to pass on Dan Marino here. But I went with a deep threat at receiver in Warfield, who averaged 20.1 yards per catch over 13 NFL seasons, and caught 85 touchdowns. When I go three-wide with him, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson, it'll stress the opposing defense in multiple ways.
JH 31 - TE Kellen Winslow, Chargers - Winslow changed the position, twice leading the NFL in receptions in a season. The Hall of Famer was one of the most dominant weapons of the early 1980's.
DD 32 - QB John Elway, Broncos - Elway played in five Super Bowls and won a pair. Slippery in the pocket, with one of the strongest arms in NFL history, the weapons he'll have around him, combined with the o-line in front of him, will make it easy for my offense to move the ball.
JH 32 - RB Curtis Martin, Jets - Martin churned out 1,000 yards or more in each of his first 10 NFL seasons, and would retire with 90 touchdown runs and 10 more scoring catches. The Hall of Famer is a nice third down changeup to Earl Campbell and Barry Sanders on Harris' offense.