Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Mar 2012

Your all-time #1 pick

Suppose there were a time machine that allowed you to bring back players from the past. Suppose there are a group of people who were willing to bring those players back (along with players from the present) to play out a single season's worth of games. And suppose you were the GM charged with helping to draft for one of these teams.

Finally: suppose you have the #1 pick. Who do you choose?

(For the sake of the argument, let's say that this time machine has a "relative-izer" that brings back past players so that they're as good against an average player of the present as they were against an average player of their own era. I am skeptical that a guy like Fran Tarkenton or like Bob Lilly would be at all successful if you grabbed them from their early 1907's form and just stuck them in a game next week. But if you made a relative comparison, then one suspects that Bob Lilly matches much better against Ndamukong Suh, and Fran much better against Tom Brady, and so on.)

There are, of course, several strategies to employ here. And I am hesitant to specify the rules we're using-- whether it's the pass-happy modern NFL, or the more balanced NFL of the 80's and 90's, or the more run-focused NFL of previous eras.

Still, I have my ideas, but I'm curious what others think....

Posted by: Lance on 13 Mar 2012

10 replies , Last at 01 Oct 2012, 1:44pm by Sleepless in Tucson

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by tuluse :: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 5:55pm

I want to say Walter Payton, but I think John Elway or Peyton Manning would be my selection.

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by JIPanick :: Fri, 03/23/2012 - 7:20pm

If we know we are going to get their actual career length, Peyton Manning is an easy choice.

If we don't, there are a half-dozen QBs you can make a case for but I'd take Staubach.

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by Intropy :: Fri, 03/23/2012 - 8:25pm

Otto Graham

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by Sifter :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 5:18am

I think Peyton Manning would be my choice, but only because of his positional value ie. he's my #1 QB of all-time. Dark horse pick would be Alan Page at DT, because a DT who can play both run and pass and has good stamina to stay on the field is really valuable in my eyes. If I'm just picking just best player ever, it's probably Jim Brown for me. He dominated the league.

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by MC2 :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 1:01pm

If it's based on how well a player performed relative to the other top players at his position in his era, Don Hutson would be a very tempting choice, but I'd probably go with Johnny Unitas, since QB is so much more important than WR.

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by Lance :: Sun, 04/22/2012 - 10:42pm

Good discussion. I wonder about where a cit-off should be to separate what we might call the "old" NFL from the newer version-- though, it is becoming more and more that what we're seeing now resembles less and less what we saw even in the 80s.

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by AndreaMelendez :: Sun, 05/27/2012 - 10:33pm

I don't know how Bray becomes a Top 5 pick, even Top 5 QB. Have you seen the QBs coming out from Arkansas, WVa, SC (the other one), even Price and Landry Jones? plus you have the super other LB Jones, Utah DT

Football Pick

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by gcates :: Thu, 07/05/2012 - 8:30pm

Jerry Rice. With the league shifting toward a pass-heavy approach, I would take the most effective receiver that has ever played the game. Since we are drafting whoever and I will have the first pick at the top of the second round, I can safely assume some elite Quarterbacks will still be on the board.

Not only that, but I think Jerry Rice is one of the only players that you can rank #1 all-time amongst his position group with no argument. Yo ucan debate the top RB, QB, LT, DT, DE, LB, etc. ad nauseam and not come up with a clear choice, but no matter who you throw in the mix, Jerry Rice tops them all. He is the Michael Jordan of WRs.

Only 31 picks will occur between my #1 overall and #33 overall, so it is entirely possible someone like Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Steve Young, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Peyton Manning, hell even Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, will be on the board. Any of those aforementioned QBs, along with Jerry Rice, would absolutely terrorize a majority of the leagues secondaries.

I'd go with an elite Tackle prospect in the 3rd, top flight CB in the 4th, and the best available Pass Rusher in the 5th. That way I have the most important positions on both sides of the ball covered (in my opinion).

Considering we are opened up to any player from any era, the talent pool is so much deeper...the possibilities are endless.

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 08/14/2012 - 9:44pm

S. Baugh

Re: Your all-time #1 pick
by Sleepless in Tucson (not verified) :: Mon, 10/01/2012 - 1:44pm

I'll give up the top 31 QB's take number 32 to have 32 two on my team.
Jim Brown, espcially if you use a "relative-izer".

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