The 2021 season is kicking off, which means (almost) every franchise is undefeated and every fan base is full of excitement.
Given all that excitement, it’s easy to forget that only a handful of teams can truly argue their spot as the NFL’s top franchise.
But, what if we took a step back and analyzed divisions by their top-end talent?
With the majority of major roster moves set, the Sprint decided to do just that, taking the best players at each position to make eight super teams.
Today is the eighth day of an eight part series, where we’ll unveil a different division’s roster each day. But first, a few ground rules.
Each team was put together by a panel of one. I’ve tried my best to maintain a 13 man set (3 WR, 1 RB, 1 TE) on offense and a 4-2-5 set (4 linemen, 2 LB, 5 DB’s) defensively, but have flexed some of the rosters to best fit the strength of each division. I’ve also strayed away from rookies, where possible, as they’re unproven in the professional environment.
Today we’ll cover the NFC West
Quarterback: Russell Wilson (SEA)
- As a full-time member of the Let Russ Cook movement, I think Wilson gets the pick. But it’s not as clear a decision as other divisions. Young dual threat Kyler Murray and veteran Matthew Stafford have real arguments for the top spot, but Wilson’s combination of experience and dual threat-ability gives him the edge.
- Also receiving consideration: Kyler Murray (ARI), Matthew Stafford (LAR)
Running Back: Chris Carson (SEA)
- Carson is a strong back who has seen his role in the receiving game increase substantially each of the last three seasons. He has a higher ceiling than any of the other backs in the division, all of whom will be splitting carries.
Wide Receiver: DeAndre Hopkins (ARI), DK Metcalf (SEA), Robert Woods (LAR)
- Behind the top two, Hopkins and Metcalf, the decision for the third receiver is a tough one. It ultimately came down to Kupp and Woods, where the latter gets the edge based on his historically higher target share.
- Also receiving consideration: Cooper Kupp (LAR), Debo Samuel (SF), Tyler Locket (SEA)
Tight End: George Kittle (SF)
- Kittle is the first no-brainer for the team. As a top three player at his position, he is the only TE of note in the division.
Offensive Line: Trent Williams (T - SF), Lakem Tomlinson (G - SF), Alex Mack (C - SF), Gabe Jackson (G - SEA), Kelvin Beachum (T - ARI)
- San Francisco owns most of the positions on the line, partly based on their talent, and likely also due to the 49ers friendly scheme. Surprisingly, two of the five are new arrivals to the division.
- Also receiving consideration: Rodney Hudson (C - ARI), Justin Pugh (G - ARI), Mike McGlinchey (T - SF)
Defensive Line: Nick Bosa (DE - SF), Aaron Donald (DT - LAR), Jason Kinlaw (DT - SF), Chandler Jones (DE - ARI)
- For most teams, facing Aaron Donald is difficult enough. Adding young talent in Bosa, Kinlaw, and Jones makes this group downright scary. Opponents would need to add a sixth offensive linemen just to keep up.
- Also receiving consideration: J.J. Watt (DE - ARI), Leonard Floyd (DE - LAR)
Linebacker: Fred Warner (SF), Bobby Wagner (SEA)
- Another no-brainer, Wagner and Warner are two of the most notable players at the position in the division with no serious contenders to take their place.
Cornerback: Jalen Ramsey (LAR), Darious Williams (LAR)
- Behind Ramsey, the best CB in the league, the pickings become slim. Five notable CB starters in the division from 2020 departed for other divisions this past offseason.
- Also receiving consideration: Darious Williams (LAR)
Safety: Jamal Adams (SEA), Buddha Baker (ARI), Jordan Fuller (LAR)
- Fuller and Baker, who is best known for getting run down by DK Metcalf, are both defensive leaders on the respective teams who fill the prototypical safety role. Adams can line up at almost any defensive position on the field giving the defense flexibility with a three safety look.
I guess we saved the best for last.. the NFC West division is strong from top to bottom. The roster holds two of the top defensive players in the game and has elite receivers to pair with Russell Wilson on offense.
Defensive line. Anytime you can pair a three time MVP in Aaron Donald with Pro Bowl talent, good things are bound to happen.
The offensive line gives some reason for pause. While Trent Williams is an elite talent, most of the line is well past their prime or have only found success in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Cooper Kupp - WR, LAR. Kupp has been the epitome of consistency, averaging over 90 targets and 1,000 receiving yards in the past two seasons. The reason for his omission was the drastic drop in touchdowns last year, down from 10 in 2019 to 3.