Admit it. No matter how big a football fan you are, no matter how voracious your appetite for mock drafts might be, you're a little tired of hearing the "Winston or Mariota" debate.
Don't feel bad. You're still a good draftnik. This sort of thing is inevitable. For all the blind optimism, realized dreams and bilious skepticism that make the NFL draft the sports world's best non-sporting event, there simply aren't enough actually transformational eligible draftees to sustain half-a-year's worth of compelling debate over which uber-talented 21-year-old might be a sliver of a fraction of a whisker better than one or three of his peers.
But what if we weren't beholden to just this year's crop of eligible draftees? What if we could expand the talent pool from 2015 prospects to humans from all of man's recorded history? Specifically, I'm talking about the best football-playing humans ever -- the game's all-time greatest stars available for drafting at the age they departed college. Of course, we'd need to bend the properties of space and time to make this happen ... but I've got connections.
With that in mind, I give you the All-Time Draft of 2015: Within, you'll find the NFL's actual draft order with the teams' actual needs (as determined by NFL Media draft guru Bucky Brooks). Again, the only difference between the real draft and ours is here, teams can pick anyone in history rather than being limited to the current draft-eligible collegians.
A few important guidelines before we begin:
The Real Brady Rule
No current NFL players can be taken.
The No Ordinary Joe Montana Rule
Players are evaluated on their college deeds ONLY.
We've attempted to fill teams' actual needs with all-time greats, but based our choices exclusively on what the football world knew about those legends as they came out of school. If we applied what we now know about them, we'd simply have a ranking of the NFL's top 32 players of all time. Of course Joe Montana would be among the top picks in any draft, but only if we knew he'd go on to win four Super Bowls. Where's the fun in that? Better to apply a sense of risk to the proceedings by taking the time machine back to when these guys were still just student-athletes.
The Jim Brown Is Better Than Your RB Rule
The goal is to fill 2015 needs, not to name all-time greats who are great.
We could absolutely, positively improve every team by inserting the name of a Hall of Famer into a lineup regardless of what that 2015 team has at a given position. For instance, the Jaguars would be better with, say, Dan Marino at QB instead of Blake Bortles. We know Marino is an upgrade, but Gus Bradley, David Caldwell and Co. wouldn't realistically draft another passer in Round 1 with sophomore Bortles already on the roster.
In fact, with very few exceptions, the Hall of Fame can offer a better option at every position on every 2015 team. But, again, we'd then not be drafting for need. We'd simply be ranking the 32 greatest players ever.
Got it? Good. Let's get to the picks:
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Steve Young, QB, BYU
In a draft loaded with big-armed prospects, the BYU southpaw threads the needle thanks to pinpoint accuracy and a running ability rarely seen at the position.
2) Tennessee Titans: Reggie White, DE, Tennessee
AFC South offensive linemen won't have a prayer against the mountainous Volunteer, whose versatility will jibe immediately with new coordinator Dick LeBeau's creativity.
3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jim Brown, RB, Syracuse
While needs on defense and the offensive line remain prominent, the Jags can't pass on this rugged Orangeman runner who has more physical ability than Jacksonville has colors on its helmet.
4) Oakland Raiders: Jerry Rice, WR, Mississippi Valley State
While some scouts are concerned about the Delta Devil's sluggish 40 time, Al Davis is no doubt smiling from the heavens at the thought of pairing this rangy small-school product with second-year QB Derek Carr.
5) Washington Redskins: Lawrence Taylor, LB, North Carolina
6) New York Jets: John Elway, QB, Stanford
7) Chicago Bears: Deion Sanders, CB, Florida State
John Fox's tattered defense fills a big hole with this electric performer, whose sublime ability in the return game will also put points on the Soldier Field scoreboard. (He's also reportedly capable of helping out the local baseball clubs ... if either organization would take on a two-sport athlete.)
8) Atlanta Falcons: Derrick Thomas, OLB, Alabama
University of Georgia fans will be relieved to see red instead of crimson on this devastating edge rusher, who appears to be the perfect fit for new head coach Dan Quinn's scheme.
9) New York Giants: Ronnie Lott, S, USC
The addition of Southern California's human daisy cutter -- who can play either safety or corner -- has the Giants' secondary pointing in the right direction.
10) St. Louis Rams: Anthony Munoz, OT, USC
After four years in the LA Coliseum, the colossal tackle moves to St Louis. He might just want a 12-month lease.
11) Minnesota Vikings: Barry Sanders, RB, Oklahoma State
12) Cleveland Browns: Ryan Leaf, QB, Washington State
No surprise the Browns' braintrust went back to the QB well one year after the Johnny Football morass, but many scouts feel Cleveland would be better served with another big-armed prospect like Louisiana Tech's Terry Bradshaw, Pitt's Dan Marino or Southern Mississippi's Brett Favre. Time will tell who's right.
13) New Orleans Saints: Tony Gonzalez, TE, California
14) Miami Dolphins: Ed Reed, S, Miami
The Fins stay local with this speedy ball hawk, who -- along with Suh, Wake and Grimes -- gives Joe Philbin's team enough high-end defensive pieces to make even the Jimmy Johnson Era 'Canes swoon.
15) San Francisco 49ers: Ray Lewis, ILB, Miami
The Niners replace the retired Patrick Willis with another hard-hitting, sideline-to-sideline intimidator who has the wheels needed to drop in pass protection.
16) Houston Texans: Michael Irvin, WR, Miami
17) San Diego Chargers: Marshall Faulk, RB, San Diego State
Mike McCoy lands the transcendent Aztec star, who'll provide value in the running and passing games for an offense in need of an upgrade to both.
18) Kansas City Chiefs: Randy Moss, WR, Marshall
This tall drink of water out of Marshall has the talent to go first overall, but off-the-field questions allow him to slip to Andy Reid. The question now is, will Alex Smith take full advantage of this burner by taking some shots downfield?
19) Cleveland Browns (from BUF): Kellen Winslow, TE, Missouri
Considered a potentially transformative player at his position, the Mizzou product promises to give the Browns an athlete who can take advantage of the expansive deep middle available in 21st century pro football.
20) Philadelphia Eagles: Roger Staubach, QB, Navy
Unlike some of his peers, trailblazer Chip Kelly isn't scared off by looming military commitments for the dynamic Midshipman, whose top-tier throwing and running abilities seem tailor-made for Kelly's attack.
21) Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Namath, QB, Alabama
22) Pittsburgh Steelers: Rod Woodson, CB, Purdue
Purdue's all-world athlete should be a perfect fit in Pittsburgh, and not just because he wore black and gold in college. Rare speed makes him attractive to any team, but it's his physical stature that makes him ideal for new coordinator Keith Butler's scheme. (Oh yeah, and not unlike the previously selected Deion Sanders, Woodson returns punts with the best of 'em.)
23) Detroit Lions: Joe Greene, DT, North Texas State
24) Arizona Cardinals: Walter Payton, RB, Jackson State
Bruce Arians and Co. go ground over air by grabbing the SWAC's record-breaking runner, who edges out "The Kansas Comet" (Gale Sayers) on the Cardinals' draft board.
25) Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Ogden, OT, UCLA
GM Dave Gettleman has done a masterful job bridging the gap between outgoing high-priced vets and incoming callow talent on the defensive side. Now, he looks to better protect his oft-battered franchise QB with the massive and mauling Bruin tackle, one of the few humans who can actually look down on the Panthers' Superman.
26) Baltimore Ravens: Ozzie Newsome, TE, Alabama
27) Dallas Cowboys: Earl Campbell, RB, Texas
28) Denver Broncos: Don Hutson, WR, Alabama
29) Indianapolis Colts: Troy Polamalu, S, USC
30) Green Bay Packers: Bruce Smith, DE, Virginia Tech
Talent trumps scheme as the Pack grabs the natural 4-3 defensive end whose otherworldly talent for sacking quarterbacks is unlikely to be quelled by either Dom Capers' 3-4 or opposing linemen.
31) New Orleans Saints (from SEA): Dan Marino, QB, Pittsburgh
32) New England Patriots: Bo Jackson, RB, Auburn
Let's say Seattle replaces Max Unger with Wisconsin center Mike Webster, while Buffalo turns up the heat on its QB battle by adding UNLV's Randall Cunningham.