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 fourth 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.
*Additional note: injury status was taken into account on the day of this post (Sorry Ravens), so some players may miss the team due to status.
Today we’ll cover the AFC West
Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes (KC)
- As the best quarterback in the league, Mahomes is the easiest decision of the day.
Running Back: Austin Ekeler (LAC)
- An elite dual threat RB, the only risk for Ekeler is his health (he missed six games in 2020). With so many rushing weapons in the division, there are several tailbacks worth considering, but Ekeler gets the nod due to his dual-threat ability.
- Also receiving consideration: Josh Jacobs (LVR), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC)
Wide Receiver: Tyreek Hill (KC), Keenan Allen (LAC)
- Allen and Hill provide two of the most consistent top options at WR in the league, giving Mahomes a dangerous pair of weapons.
- Also receiving consideration: Courtland Sutton (DEN)
Tight End: Travis Kelce (KC), Darren Waller (LVR)
- Consider this one of our biggest flexes to a starting lineup, it’s impossible to pass up the combination of Kelce, who may be the best to ever play the TE position, and Waller.
Offensive line: Orlando Brown Jr. (T - KC), Joe Thuney (G - KC), Corey Linsley (C - LAC), Graham Glasgow (G - DEN), Bryan Bulaga (T - LAC)
- Outside of right guard, this group is elite. Brown, Thuney, and Linsley are all new arrivals with All-Pro potential.
Defensive Line: Joey Bosa (DE - LAC), Chris Jones (DT - KC), Shelby Harris (DT - DEN), Von Miller (DE - DEN)
- Both Jones and Harris have a knack for batting down passes, and Bosa is a force coming off the edge, making this group dangerous. The biggest weakness is Miller’s Achilles and the potential drop off in play following a lost 2020 season.
- Also receiving consideration: Frank Clark (DE - KC), Bradley Chubb (DE - DEN)
Linebacker: Kenneth Murray Jr. (DEN), Alexander Johnson (DEN)
- Murray and Johnson both emerged onto the scene for the Broncos in 2020, with Murray nearly winning the DROY last season.
Cornerback: Kyle Fuller (Den), Bashaud Breeland (KC), Bryce Callahan (DEN)
- Fuller’s ceiling as a first team All-Pro and Callahan’s status as one of, if not the best, nickel corner in the league make the group dangerous. Breeland, whose biggest weakness is in the red zone, provides another respectable player for the group.
Safety: Justin Simmons (DEN), Tyrann Mathieu (KC)
- Pairing two of the top NFL Safeties would give the West maybe the strongest safety group. It’s a good start toward replicating Denver’s “No Fly Zone” from 2015.
The AFC West provides a high-flying fast paced offense which would make defenses appear to stand still. Better yet, paired with a hard hitting defense, this team could be elite.
Pass catchers. With four guys capable of surpassing 1,200 yards, there aren’t enough defensive backs in the league to stop one of them being open for Mahomes.
The linebacking group, although young and promising, don’t have the power of other positions in the division. Luckily, the strength of the line and back five would be a handful on their own.
Frank Clark - DE, KC. Clark’s ability can’t be overlooked, but his lack of sack production is an area for pause. Miller, the veteran pass rusher with seven double digit sack seasons, holds onto the second DE spot for one more year.