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How Good Would an All-Vol NFL Team Be?

via DallasCowboys.net
via DallasCowboys.net

It’s the offseason and NFL transactions are some of the top stories in sports right now. That got us thinking – with a fair amount of quality former Vols in the NFL, could you put all of them on one roster and be competitive in 2015?

There are 35 current Vols in the NFL (as of the end of the 2014 season), so we’ll have to add some depth in other ways – guys who have recently retired with the past year or two or guys that will be trying to make a roster in 2015, guys who have been floating around as a free agent and we’ll even count guys who played at UT but didn’t finish their career there. Depth is going to be the biggest question for sure. But with some elite players to anchor the roster, it would be interesting to see how far this squad could go.

NFL teams can have 46 players active in a game, so this is what the roster might look like (we’re assuming full health for everybody):

Quarterbacks:
1. Peyton Manning
2. Tyler Bray
3. Matt Simms

Running back:
1. Arian Foster
2. Bryce Brown
3. Rajion Neal
4. Austin Johnson (FB)

Tight ends:
1. Jason Witten
2. Mychal Rivera
3. Luke Stocker

Receivers:
1. Cordarrelle Patterson
2. Justin Hunter
3. Denarius Moore
4. Da’Rick Rogers
5. Robert Meachem
6. Donte’ Stallworth

Offensive line:
1. Ramon Foster
2. Ja’Wuan James
3. Dallas Thomas
4. Zach Fulton
5. Scott Wells
6. Jacques McClendon
7. Chris Scott
8. Tiny Richardson
9. James Stone

Defensive line:
1. Tony McDaniel
2. Dan Williams
3. Robert Ayres
4. Dan McCullers
5. Malik Jackson
6. Montori Hughes
7. Jordan Williams
8. Demonte’ Bolden

Linebacker:
1. Jerod Mayo
2. Parys Haralson
3. Jacques Smith
4. A.J. Johnson (pending legal issues)
5. Dontavis Sapp

Defensive backs:
1. Eric Berry
2. Justin Coleman
3. Jonathan Wade
4. Jason Allen
5. Prentiss Waggner
6. Byron Moore

Specialists:
1. Dustin Colquitt
2. Michael Palardy
3. Morgan Cox

How good would this team be?

Daniel: I think 8-8 would be the ceiling. The starting 22 wouldn’t be too bad except for in the secondary, where the Vols have failed to produce really any starting-caliber NFL corners for a long time. The fact that we had to dig guys out of retirement and reach with the likes of Justin Coleman, Prentiss Waggner and Byron Moore to even fill out the roster is a bad sign. Simply put: That secondary would get absolutely torched to the point that I don’t think this roster could make the playoffs. Offensively, there’s some upside. Manning has enough left in the tank to make that offense pretty good, and to help guys like CP and Justin Hunter reach their potential. Foster and Witten are proven commodities and the offensive line would be serviceable with a nice mix of veterans and young guys.

Houston: Feast or famine for this group…They are pretty good on offense when you break it down. Manning would probably be able to get more out of that group of pass-catchers than most. Patterson has been an underutilized weapon in the NFL, but is a game-changer when he knows what he’s doing – and Peyton wouldn’t allow him to see the field unless he knew EXACTLY what he was supposed to be doing on every play. Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers together again would be a sight to see. Both have a ton of athletic ability, and, with Manning throwing them the ball, could prove to be an above-average duo. Jason Witten at TE is still solid and Arian Foster would likely be able to gash some teams running behind a pretty strong offensive line. Bryce Brown off the bench would be a pretty strong RB2 option – assuming he can hold onto the football – but depth is a concern. Defensively, not so much. The D-Line is big, but not overly athletic and would struggle to get to the passer, which would put a ton of pressure on a makeshift secondary – other than Berry – to defend for extended periods of time. Mayo would likely get some pressure on blitzes from time to time, but this is a team that would give up miles of yardage through the air. With a perfect schedule, I could see this team sneaking to nine, maybe even 10 wins, but then they’d get wrecked in the playoffs.

Reed: I think this team would go between 6-10 and 8-8, which would essentially make them the Miami Dolphins. This team would score, no doubt, but they wouldn’t have any depth, their secondary would be horrendous and their defensive line would be solid. It’d be up to Manning and Co. to put up points. They’d be a team that, with just a few extra defensive pieces (like future draft picks Cam Sutton and Derek Barnett), could make an occasional playoff push.

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