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Playing Pretend: Who to take?

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Who to imagine wearing the Purple & Black?

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Every NFL squad wants to build the most complete teams, but with the cap and also 31 other teams building squads it isn't exactly easy. But in this "what if" post, who do you want?

I'm not going to just select one player, instead I'll be going over who I would want if given only a certain position groups to choose from. If I strictly went runningback, then receiver, then cornerbacks I'd practically go down the All-Pro list per position. Instead, this will force some thought involved. Another term to this imagination station will be when selecting a current player they will no longer be suiting up for the other team. Overlooked and now you're thinking, "Well duh, they can't play for both." but this will come in handy soon enough.

WR/RB Group:

First is the skill position group which is all fun and games. Personally my top picks for the "who to steal" list go as follows:

WR:

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Dez Bryant
  3. Julio Jones

These lists are almost impossible. Somebody usually disagrees and reminds me that Calvin Johnson is still the best receiver in the game, or somebody on the list isn't as deserving as somebody who is. But this is mine. My personal belief is Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the NFL and his stats the past two years are indicative of such feats. It also is factored in that we wouldn't have to deal with Brown twice a year shredding our corners.

RB:

  1. Jamaal Charles
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. Le'Veon Bell

You read that right. I have the wildest dreams of watching Jamaal take a one cut from the truck sized gap Yanda & Wagner block as he bursts through the line and explodes past the safeties for touchdowns. If Justin Forsett can acheive 1,266 yards with our line, Jamaal Charles and his career 5.5 yards per carry would obliterate records. I presonally take him over Adrian Peterson and the drama surrounding AP. The numbers would cause the Jamacolypse. Red Wedding all over again for defenses.

But who do you take if you only get one between those two? I take Jamaal. The defense would attempt to load boxes with 8 man coverage to stop the running attack, and allow Steve Smith Sr one man coverage to beat, with Breshad also able to breakaway for the deep ball.

TE/T

This feels unfair with a skill position, but an upgrade at left tackle could maybe push the balance in favor. It could even be the other way around as people think tackles are the second most important player on a team, or at least on the offense.

TE:

  1. Rob Gronkowski
  2. Jimmy Graham
  3. Greg Olsen

Gronkowski is a cyborg machine sent from the Bud Light Whatever, USA city to party and play football. He can block people off the field, destroy tacklers, and throw out a one armed snag while being hit. He is the type of tight end kids build on MyPlayer Madden with the stats cranked up to 99's.

T:

  1. Tyron Smith
  2. Joe Thomas
  3. Jason Peters

I hesitate to not put Joe Thomas first, but truthfully Tyron and his young age outweigh the implications of the Browns not having the Hall of Fame worthy Thomas blocking for their quarterback situation. It's extremely tough to decide. I've even stared at the screen trying to judge which is best, but this is my final answer. A franchise left tackle with the best guard tandem in the league, and then Rick Wagner on the line as the second best right tackle currently. Yes please.

Overall, I take Tyron Smith. At 24 years old this left tackle is cementing himself into superstardom as a lineman; also Smith cements defenders into the turf. While Gronkowski would be the ultimate offensive luxury for Baltimore, especially when meeting up with the Patriots seemingly every post-season, Tyron and his talent far outweigh the option.

Quick note, I am super confident in our guard combo so I have no need running over the guards in the NFL. If forced I would be taking Zack Martin because the Cowboys snatched him up one pick ahead of us. This did allow the Ravens to take CJ Mosley; alls well that ends well. Zacks' skills would allow Baltimore to already possess a back-up for Yanda though, which would be almost unfair.

OLB/DE

With Baltimore, we are aging in the pass rush department and it's getting slightly nerve-wracking watch Sizzle get an additional year tacked on. His play is one of the best for OLB's, and I'm lucky to watch him every game. He's insane, and never keeps his mouth shut. No idea how he talks so much in between plays, but he backs up the talk with constant play. Maybe an OLB is worth more than our DE group which is loaded with newly drafted players (ie. Jernigan, Williams, Davis). I know some of those are defensive tackles, but Pees has been talking of all these men are practicing different places along the line from Nose to 3 technique, and even 5 technique.

3-4 OLB:

  1. Justin Houston

Truthfully I don't want anybody else. No need to line up the other players. I'm not putting up any other names because they don't even come close. Houston slaughtered the competition. This is who I want if I'm selecting from outside linebackers.

3-4 DE:

  1. J.J. Watt

Same exact scenario as before. I'm not needing Muhammad Wilkerson or Sheldon Richardson. No Jurrell Casey for me. Nobody even comes close. J.J. Watt is the closest thing to a super hero on the gridiron.

Who to take? Seriously this isn't fun, more stressful. J.J. Watt and his talents are insurmountable. But Houston and the pass rush would be completely lethal. They both are 26 years old, and athletic phenoms. In the end I'm going to pick J.J. Watt though. What he is doing at the 3 Tech position is mind-boggling. To put this in perspective, his overall PFF is 107.5. The second closest is Richardson with a 39.9. Sixty points higher. Watt has broken the system and forces his stats to be broken almost. Give me the D-end that sacks more than my outside linebacker.

CB/ILB/S

This group should be the most difficult, and most fought over. All three are very good positions in which taking away the number one from all three would be amazing. Going over the players here are my lists

ILB:

  1. Luke Kuechly
  2. Bobby Wagner
  3. Dont'a Hightower

Kuechly's skills are a blatent #1 in my books. From RoTY to DPoY he is without a doubt the best 3-4 inside linebacker the NFL currently has to offer. Wagner is closing the huge gap, but he's still second. Dont'a would be great to pair with CJ Mosley, but not above Luke.

CB:

  1. Richard Sherman
  2. Darrelle Revis
  3. Chris Harris Jr.

Sherman in my books is the best corner in the NFL. Revis is very close, but I refuse to argue about it in this article. I take Harris Jr third based on his absolutely quiet breakout season and the young age. He would be very valuable for years.

S:

  1. Earl Thomas
  2. Tashaun Gipson
  3. Eric Weddle

Earl is the best safety in the league for coverage. His range is ALMOST what Reed's was. He is intelligent, and allows Kam Chancellor to cheat so far down to the line and smash the run game, and let's Richard press cover because Earl can come back to save him when Richard finally does get beat. It really is watching Reed with McAllister. Great combo. Gipson is second because stealing his talents from the Browns would hinder their abilities and boost Baltimore's.

Overall pick? Thomas. It's tough. Imagining Sherman on the right, Jimmy on the left, Arrington and Webb for Nickel & Dime packages would be sickening. The pass rush would easily be there with cornerbacks of this talent. Luke & Mosley would crush any attempts at the run game without mercy. Forcing teams to pass and allowing us to run more pass defenses forcing turnovers. But like I said, having a shiny new free safety would be fun to watch, and best for Pees defense. Earl Thomas' range and ball hawking is seriously on par with Reed's talents. Don't crucify me for saying it, but it's true.

Unfortunately this is all pretend, but definitely fun to think over, and argue with friends and fans alike.