Building a championship NFL team is a challenging enterprise. The draft and free agency offer limited opportunities. Great players are scarce, and great quarterbacks scarcer. If you happen to draft first when Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck is available, life can be pretty good. But even then, there are no guarantees -- especially with top QBs ultimately consuming so much salary-cap space.
Perhaps that is why personnel analysts seemed to enjoy an easier theoretical team-building exercise: picking five current NFL players as building blocks for an imaginary expansion franchise. ESPN analyst and six-time NFL executive of the year Bill Polian joined ESPN.com NFL scout Matt Williamson and three current high-ranking NFL personnel evaluators in providing their selections and reasoning for this column. Four of the five built their hypothetical teams around the same quarterback. They selected as many defensive linemen as the combined total for offensive linemen, receivers and cornerbacks.
"It was hard because you are dealing with a universe of maybe a dozen players," Polian said. "What it really comes down to is positional value."