Football

All-Time NFL Gameday Roster

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The NFL has had many great players. Now that the Super Bowl is over, and we can look at the future for the individual franchises, we should take a look at the past of the league as a whole.

The NFL currently allows 46 players to be active on gameday. So, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the past and build the best gameday roster of all-time players.

So, let’s take a look.

*Note: This is not indicative of who I think are the best players at any position all-time. This is specifically for how I would want to win games.*

Offense

Quarterbacks: Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – JANUARY 23: Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills looks to pass during the 4th quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The reason I have chosen these quarterbacks is that the game plan would include zone reads, designed QB runs, and a need for quarterbacks who can run when the pocket is broken. Therefore, quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Aaron Rodgers, etc. don’t fit. I feel like these quarterbacks would give me more of a variety of offense, and, therefore, are my quarterbacks.

Backfield: LaDanian Tomlinson, Jim Brown, Mike Alstott

This backfield gives me a lead fullback for both running backs and designed QB runs. It also gives me a thunder and lightning combo of Tomlinson and Brown. Tomlinson gives me the versatility to line up in the backfield, in the slot, and outside. Bown also gives me speed on the runs up the middle.

Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski, Shannon Sharpe, Mike Ditka

In today’s NFL, the tight end position has been about getting down the seam and being a huge part of the passing game. However, with this versatile offense, combination tight ends are needed, and these three are the best in the history of the NFL at both blocking and receiving from the tight end position.

Wide Receivers: Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald, Hines Ward, Anquan Boldin, Brandon Marshall

PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 10: Wide receiver Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers holds the football as he tries to fight off the tackle by defensive lineman Patrick Kerney #97 of the Atlanta Falcons during a game at Heinz Field on November 10, 2002 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers and Falcons tied 34-34. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

With running quarterbacks and outside runs, I am going to need wide receivers who can block downfield. All of these players were not only good and reliable wide receivers, but they could also block as well. Therefore, these are the selections for this team.

Offensive Line: Anthony Muñoz, Evan Mathis, Kevin Mawae, Randy Thomas, Lane Johnson, Johnathan Ogden, Shaq Mason, Eric Winston

This offensive line needs to be special in terms of the combination of power at the point of attack and athleticism. We’re going to be run power and zone run, but we also need them to block downfield at times for the quarterback. This group does just that.

Defense (even front base)

Defensive Line: Reggie White, Aaron Donald, John Randle, Deacon Jones, Michael Stahan, Randy White

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 13: Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams talks to referee Ronald Torbert #62 in the second half during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The goal of this defense is the be able to get home with the front-four. So, we need the ability to get to the quarterback across the board, not just on the edge, but in the middle as well. So, I added some of the best pass rushers of all time from both defensive end and defensive tackle.

Linebackers: Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Jack Ham, Derrick Brooks

Just like the quarterback list, this group is missing the consensus best player at the position. As I stated in the defensive line section, the defense will be predicated on getting pressure with the front four, and since this is an even front base, the team needs linebackers who can cover and stop the run. They also will be needed to get after the quarterback at times. This means I need all-around linebackers, and these are the best fits for the team.

Cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis, Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson, Mel Blount

When it comes to shutting down outside receivers, this group would be the best. Imagine having a front four that could get after the quarterback on their own. Now, when you add guys who take away the outside receivers on a consistent basis like these guys, then you have a recipe for a complete shutdown defense.

Safeties: Ed Reed, Ronnie Lott, Troy Polamalu, Ken Houston

When it comes to fear, these guys instilled it. They were truly the last line of defense in coverage and would be guys that not only jar the ball loose from receivers but would also take the ball away. All four were beasts in the running game as well. When you combine their efforts with the cornerbacks on this team, this would be one of the fiercest groups of defensive backs in the league.

Special Teams

Kicker: Justin Tucker

Who else can it really be? When you need points, whether it’s capping a drive or after a touchdown, Tucker is almost automatic. He’s made 95.1% of all of his kicks in his career.

Punter: Shane Lechler

There’s an old saying in real estate that the three most important words are “location, location, location”. Well, in football, it’s field position. Flipping the field was Lechler’s specialty. Pinning the opposing team back is why he makes this team.

Returner: Devin Hester

It says something about your game when you’re a return specialist and are a Hall of Fame Finalist in the first year of eligibility. That’s Hester in 2022. He averaged 35.5 yards per return and had 19 career returns for touchdowns. Would teams kick to him? Maybe, and if they do, he’d help flip the field quickly.

Gunners: Steve Tasker, Ed Reed

Gunner is an often overlooked position. Many people look at hangtime and net punting average, but having players who can cover punts is key to the success of flipping the field. These two bring a special aspect to this role. Tasker was a special player in forcing fumbles, and Reed was just an intense all-around defender that would bring his defensive intensity to special teams.

Long Snapper: Trey Junkin

The reason Trey Junkin makes this team is longevity. Junkin broke in as a linebacker, moved to tight end, and found a home at long snapper. He played 281 games, and mostly as a long snapper. This is why he’s on the team.

Thank you for reading this article on the all-time 46-man gameday roster. For more great NFL content follow me on Twitter @ganggreenpallas and @OTH_Football.

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Michael Pallas is an avid sports fan. He knows and is passionate about many sports, but mostly the NFL. Michael has an associate's degree in Liberal Arts from Saint Leo University. He's been covering the Jets since 2015 for various online sites.

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