A few years ago Jimmy Kempski wrote an article called The NFL vs the Marklars, in which the planet Earth has to play a game of football against an alien race in a Space Jam style confrontation for the fate of our planet. I’ve decided to update that team with my personal preference for a 53 man roster that could make the trip for this game. I attempted to build a roster that is full of talent, while also keeping special teams and schemes in mind. There are a lot of good players who did not make my roster for one reason or another and please feel free to comment on the players you would include or remove. Additionally, my friend Tim, who contributes to this blog from time to time, has included his 53 man roster as well.
QBs: Peyton Manning is my starter, Tom Brady is the backup and I am bringing Cam Newton as well. Cam’s size and running ability could come in handy. (Aaron Rodgers is the obvious guy missing here and if Manning or Brady can’t make it he obviously comes along.)
Running Backs: I’d like to see any planet compete with a backfield rotation of Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch. I’m also bringing Marcel Reece as a fullback. Reece can catch like a wide out and run like a back and is a solid blocker, adding another weapon to the offense. (A true run blocking fullback like Vonta Leach is the other option if the coaches deem that more important.)
Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson is a lock as the #1 guy. My other starter is a bit of a surprise, but I’m taking Alshon Jeffery. His size and penchant for insane catches will be valuable. Wes Welker and Antonio Brown are coming to man the slots and Welker’s experience with both Manning and Brady will be invaluable. I also want to bring coverage busters Desean Jackson and Josh Gordon. Lastly, rookie Cordarrelle Patterson makes the roster as a kick returner but he could be used as a runner and receiver if needed. Desean and Antonio are in the mix to return punts. Dez Bryant can stay at home and sulk, he’s not getting on my space ship. (Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson would be the alternates.)
Tight Ends: Jimmy Graham is the obvious starter here, he is a match nightmare on any planet. Vernon Davis comes along for his run blocking abilities at the position and breakout star Julius Thomas makes the team as the third guy for his chemistry with Manning. I don’t trust Gronk to stay healthy or out of the space cantinas, so he can stay home with Dez. (Jason Witten is the next in line here.)
Offensive Line: This is the hardest part, as chemistry will be important, but my starting line is Tyron Smith-Evan Mathis-Nick Mangold-Carl Nicks-Nate Solder. Joe Staley is my swing tackle and the tight end in the big set. Marshal Yanda is the extra guard and Jason Kelce and his beard are the backup at center. I chose athletic blockers who can move in space, take your pick on the other options as there are several.
I wanted a defense that could be multiple and effective from any formation. This team will be able to play 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, nickel, dime, you name it. The front seven for the 3-4 base defense would be:
Aldon Smith – Luke Kuechly – NaVorro Bowman – Robert Mathis
Cameron Jordan – Dontari Poe – JJ Watt
In the 4-3 the team would line up like this (the nickel and dime defensive line would look the same):
Vontaze Burfict – Luke Kuechly – Lavonte David
Jordan/Watt – Geno Atkins – Ndamukong Suh – Robert Quinn/Mathis
My thoughts here are that Jordan and Watt are versatile enough to play anywhere and generate pass rush. Aldon Smith, Robert Mathis and Robert Quinn provide a ton of outside pass rush to compliment Poe, Atkins and Suh (apparently Quinn has redefined the word sack and his own name as synonyms). Kuechly is natural leader at MLB. Bowman is a great ILB in the 3-4 and was a beast on special teams as a rookie. Burfict is simply a tackling machine and Lavonte David is a playmaker with 5 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 6 sacks this season already. I wanted to find space for Justin Smith and considering him over Suh, but ultimately I felt like this group fit best together and kept a true DT over him.
In the secondary I have a lot of depth with the idea of staying fresh and playing special teams. At cornerback I want to start Richard Sherman and Alterraun Verner, but a Darrelle Revis could take a starting spot as well. Patrick Peterson comes along as the most athletic member of the secondary and will also be in the mix as a return man. Joe Haden is another strong player with starting potential, but he will be limited to playing a spell role. The same for Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman. Tillman’s knack for forcing fumbles and veteran leadership will be important though. I’m bringing a 7th corner back in Buster Skrine primarily for his special teams experience and strong tackling abilities. Skrine is strong enough in coverage to play on defense as well, which is an added bonus.
At Safety the starters are Earl Thomas and Eric Berry. I’m going to bring TJ Ward and Eric Weddle as the backups. Weddle is a very strong tackler and has special teams experience and Ward can flat out hit. I’m also taking a gamble and bringing Troy Polamalu for depth. He can be used in some special packages to take advantage of his playmaking abilities. If anyone here is a no go (I’m looking at you Polamalu), rookie Tyrann Mathieu is my next choice.
My kicker is Matt Prater. He leads the league in kick offs, has made 95% of his kicks on the season and kicked an NFL record 64 yarder the other week.
My kicker is Brandon Fields. Not an obvious choice but I went for one of the strongest legs in the league. While my special teams has some experience, I felt like kicking as deep as possible would help. For the season Fields has a 48.6 yard average and has kicked 27 inside the 20 with only 2 touchbacks.
Jon Dorenbos is the team’s long snapper because 1) name another one and 2) because he can do magic and we could use the entertainment on a cross universe trip.
Tim’s roster comes out similar to mine but also has several key differences.
All World 53 Man Roster:
QB: Peyton Manning (Off Captain), Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson
RB: Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy
FB: Marcel Reece
WR: Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall
OT: Joe Thomas, Duane Brown, David Stewart
OG: Evan Mathis, Marshall Yanda, Jahri Evans, Louis Vasquez
C: Nick Mangold, Alex Mack, Max Unger
TE: Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski
DE: JJ Watt (Def Captain), Robert Mathis, Justin Smith, Muhammad Wilkerson
DT: Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Geno Atkins, Jurrell Casey
OLB: Von Miller, Aldon Smith, Justin Houston, Wesley Woodyard (ST Captain)
ILB: Navarro Bowman, Luke Kuechly, Kiko Alonso
CB: Richard Sherman, Joe Haden, Alterran Verner, Aqib Talib
FS: Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu
SS: Eric Berry, TJ Ward, Eric Weddle
K: Matt Prater
P: Jon Ryan
PR: DeSean Jackson
KR: Patrick Peterson
LS: Jon Dorenbos
Let us know what you think!