I love the NFL Draft.
If you’ve known me for a while now, that isn’t a surprise to you whatsoever. I talk about it a lot. I’m one of the biggest NFL Draft nerds you’re ever going to meet. Every year, I live tweet all seven rounds of the Draft, covering every single pick, giving my analysis and opinions along the way. If my favorite team isn’t playing for their sport’s championship, the NFL Draft is my favorite sporting event of every calendar year, even more so than WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble, the Super Bowl, or anything else.
One way I’ve been able to combine my love of wrestling and my love of the Draft in previous years is to do exactly what I’m doing here today… looking at the world of pro wrestling and building an NFL squad out of it. It’s not exactly hard-hitting journalism, but then again, it isn’t supposed to be.
As in the past, I do have a set of rules that I try to follow for this column. First of all, I only use currently active wrestlers. Well, “active” as in they’re signed somewhere, or are currently wrestling on the circuit. Then they’re fair game. No Andre The Giant, Ric Flair, The Rock, or JBL picks. Next, I try to make things as “realistic” as possible when it comes to a wrestler’s size and the position I have them playing. I go by the height and weight they’re listed as online. If you don’t see a seven-foot-tall, 500-pound Quarterback in pro football, you won’t see one here. Also, a player’s past history playing football doesn’t necessarily matter here. Maybe they played a certain position in their football days, but I have them listed somewhere different. That’s most likely because they’ve dropped a bunch of weight since then, or because size “requirements” for that position have changed through the years. Another thing is that I’ll be crafting as close to an entire 53-man squad as I can, which is the roster size that an NFL team carries for their regular season games. I try to keep that authentic, as well. Teams don’t carry 15 Running Backs, so I don’t, either. The only difference with my roster is that I don’t include Kickers or Punters, no Long Snappers, and no Special Teams “demons” because that’s just no fun. Lastly, ages and things like that are irrelevant here. NFL teams don’t have 45-year-old Defensive Ends running around, but if I find a 45-year-old that fits the Defensive End profile, they’re here. I’m basing things on a wrestler’s size, speed, strength, athletic ability, temperament, and attributes like that.
If you’re not familiar with American football, don’t worry. I try my best to explain what I’m doing so that everyone can understand it. Again, this is all in fun. Don’t read into why Wrestler A is on my team while Wrestler B isn’t. It has nothing to do with who is a better wrestler, who I’m a bigger fan of, etc. Now that I’ve spent an entire 500+ words breaking everything down, let’s get on with the column itself, shall we?
Offense (Singleback Formation – QB, RB, 3 WR, TE, 2 T, 2 G, C)
Your Quarterback is supposed to be one of, if not, the smartest players on the entire team. Not only does he need to know the entire offensive playbook inside and out, but he needs to know how to look at a defensive formation and “read” it. He should know how to see favorable matchups for his offense, as where to pick defenses apart. A level of on-the-fly creativity should be there, as well, as he will have to see issues and call audibles right away when things don’t look right at first glance. That’s why my starting QB is none other than Cody Rhodes. He has proven, time and time again, that he is one of the smartest and most creative minds in the entire business. At 6’2″ tall and 220 pounds, he would be considered almost undersized for an NFL QB. The position is leaning more and more towards players that are in the 6’4″ range with more body mass to be able to handle the beating that they’ll take during a season. 6’2″ and 220 pounds puts him smack dab in line with the likes of Lamar Jackson (6’2″ & 212 pounds), Teddy Bridgewater (6’2″ & 215), Baker Mayfield (6’1″ & 215), Aaron Rodgers (6’2″ & 225), and Deshaun Watson (6’2″ & 215). For his backup, I went with someone else who has proven to be one of the most creative minds in, and out, of the business. He also might be one of the overall smartest people in wrestling, owning a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a PhD. I’m talking about none other than Xavier Woods. Woods provides more speed and athletic ability at the position, but it comes with a smaller stature. At 5’11” and 205 pounds, he would be one of the smaller QBs in the NFL. He’s still in the range of players like Kyler Murray (5’10” and 207), Drew Brees (6’0″ and 209), and Russell Wilson (5’11” and 215). Realistically, you could make Woods the starter and move Cody to the backup spot without a problem.
Running Back is a position that has multiple “types” of player that can find success. You can win at RB with speed, or you can win at RB with power. It’s all a personal preference, really. I like having more of a “scat back” as my starter, meaning a smaller, faster, and more elusive player. My starting RB here is going to be Ricochet. You can look up and down every roster in the sport, but you’re not going to find many wrestlers who has the skill set of Ricochet. He’s lightning quick and possesses the type of agility and athleticism that shouldn’t be humanly possible. If you give him the ball, it’s going to take a special effort from a defender to catch up to him to even try and make a tackle. At 5’9″ and 188 pounds, he’s definitely on the smaller side for an NFL RB. You’re sacrificing a lot of size there, hoping that he doesn’t take too much damage and that his speed wins a lot more than it loses. His size puts him in the range of NFL RBs like Austin Ekeler (5’10” and 200), Aaron Jones (5’9″ and 208), Ito Smith (5’9″ and 195), Raheem Mostert (5’10” and 205), Zack Moss (5’9″ and 205), Devin Singletary (5’7″ and 203), Matt Breida (5’10” and 190), and Phillip Lindsay (5’8″ and 190). For my second-string RB, I want a wild card. I want someone who is unorthodox and someone who you never know what to expect from. Someone that is going to get the job done, no matter how dirty the deeds may be, you could say. Jon Moxley is my pick here. He’s not afraid to mix it up and do whatever it takes to win. I want someone like that with the football in his hands. At 6’2″ and 224 pounds, he’s a very good size for an NFL RB. That matches up with the likes of Adrian Peterson (6’1″ and 220), Todd Gurley (6’1″ and 224), Tevin Coleman (6’1″ and 210), Le’Veon Bell (6’1″ and 225), Joe Mixon (6’1″ and 220), David Johnson (6’1″ and 224), Melvin Gordon (6’1″ and 215), and potential first-round pick in this week’s NFL Draft, Najee Harris (6’2″ and 230). For my third RB, I went in a different direction entirely, especially from my starter. I went with someone who isn’t the tallest in the world, but is built like a refrigerator and probably as difficult to tackle as a refrigerator, as well. Jeff Cobb plays the role of my blocking back and specialist at the goal line. At 5’10” and 265 pounds, he’s unlike nearly every RB that has ever played the game. When you think of a power back in the NFL right now, you think about Derrick Henry. The problem with that comparison is that Henry is 6’3″ and 247 pounds. To truly compare Cobb, you need to go historical with players that aren’t in the game anymore. Jerome Bettis (5’11” and 255), Jamal Lewis (5’11” and 245), Craig “Ironhead” Heyward (5’11” and 265), and Ron Dayne (5’10” and 250) are the ones you’d have to look at. Put the ball in Cobb’s hands and good luck to the poor sap who has to try and bring him down.
Wide Receiver is a very trusted position on your offense. These are some of the best pure athletes you have on your roster, but you need more out of them than just that. You need them to know how to find seams in the defense so that they can get open. My first pick here is someone who has shown that he has some of the more effortless athleticism in wrestling. He’s also someone that has shown an innate ability to pick things up at a rapid rate, ahead of the normal developmental curve that usually affects wrestlers of his age. The Velveteen Dream is my first outside WR here. He’s 6’2″ and 227 pounds, which is a great size for a WR. Amari Cooper (6’1″ and 225), Allen Robinson (6’2″ and 220), Davante Adams (6’1″ and 215), Julio Jones (6’3″ and 220), and Michael Thomas (6’3″ and 212) are some of the best players at the position in the NFL, and they match up well with Dream’s measurements. Another thing about Wide Receivers that stands out is their flashy nature and their ability to come up big when the lights are shining the brightest. That just screams out Kenny Omega to me. He’s someone that has had a ton of matches in recent years with real big fight feels to them, and he always delivers. At 6’0″ and 203 pounds, he’s a little smaller than Dream, but there are plenty of NFL comparisons to make there. Darius Slayton (6’1″ and 194), Terry McLaurin (6’0″ and 200), Justin Jefferson (6’1″ and 202), Chris Godwin (6’1″ and 209), and DeAndre Hopkins (6’1″ and 212) are all of similar sizes and statures. That takes care of my two starters on the outside, but what about my starting WR in the slot? Far more often than not, your slot WR is smaller than his outside buddies, but his speed and shiftiness allow him to get open and find holes in the coverage over the middle. Through all the muck and mire, he just finds a way to make plays. A super-athletic person like Wes Lee should do the trick here. He’s 5’9″ tall and weighs 190 pounds, which makes him on the smaller side, but again, a lot of successful slot receivers aren’t giants. Julian Edelman just retired from the NFL, but was one of the best slot guys of this generation at 5’10” and 198 pounds, while Tyler Lockett has found great success in the slot at 5’10” and 182 pounds. For my backup receivers, I’m going to follow similar styles and schematic fits. Shelton Benjamin (6’2″ and 248), Will Ospreay (6’1″ and 231), and Rey Fenix (5’9″ and 185) will all be able to contribute greatly and help keep the starters fresh in the rotation.
A Tight End is different things to different people, depending on their preferences. Some people like them to be bigger, more physical players. That makes sense, as blocking for the Running Back and Wide Receivers (and even the Quarterback) is part of their job description. Others like them to, essentially, be not much more than taller versions of their Wide Receivers, able to do damage anywhere on the field as a threat in the passing game. I like the best of both worlds. It would be preferable if players on my team could do multiple things and not get pigeonholed into one thing and one job. For my starter, I’m going to go with Randy Orton. At 6’5″ and 250 pounds, he’s a large enough human being to handle the physicality of the position. At the same time, he’s also someone that has shown to be a much better athlete than he was ever given credit for. If I need him to block, he could handle that, but if I need him to slip out and give my Quarterback another option, he could handle that, too. His size puts him right in line with NFL TEs like Zach Ertz (6’5″ and 250), TJ Hockenson (6’5″ and 247), George Kittle (6’4″ and 250), and Mark Andrews (6’5″ and 256). Orton’s backup is someone else that is a big, physical talent that is deceptively athletic. Wardlow, come on down. At 6’3″ and 267 pounds, he’s someone I could depend on to handle whatever being a TE throws at him. His measurements have him matched up with players like Hayden Hurst (6’4″ and 260), Austin Hooper (6’4″ and 255), and Vance McDonald (6’4″ and 267). For my third-string TE, I wanted to go with someone more along those “taller Wide Receiver” lines. He’s not a giant, but he’s still taller than the receivers I have. Tino Sabatelli gets the call here. At 6’3″ and 240 pounds, he’s listed at almost 20 pounds heavier than he was when he played in the NFL. He was an incredible blend of size and speed as a football player, and I want to bring that here to my squad. He even has experience as a Wide Receiver, so he knows about running routes and getting open. He’s about the same size as the likes of Evan Engram (6’3″ and 240), Irv Smith Jr. (6’2″ and 242), and upcoming NFL Draft pick Brevin Jordan (6’3″ and 245).
The Offensive Tackle position is incredibly important. For a right-handed Quarterback, the Left Tackle is the main protector of his blindside and is often the only thing preventing the QB from having a 300-pound defender run into him at full speed. The Right Tackle will then be responsible for handling the bigger part of the run blocking, as the right side would be the “strong” side where the Tight End lines up. More running plays go to that side, meaning the opposing team’s strongest run defenders are often on that side. Therefore, the Right Tackle is often one of the strongest players on the entire team. With my starting QB being right-handed, that all lines up. My starting Right Tackle will be Braun Strowman, one of the most “country strong” competitors you’re ever going to see. Listed at 6’8″ and 385 pounds (although he has slimmed down a bunch in the last several months), Braun would be much bigger than just about anyone that has ever played professional football. There is a very good comparison to make for Braun’s listed stats, though, and that is Pro Bowl Tackle Trent Brown, who is 6’8″ and weighs 380 pounds. At the Left Tackle spot, I have someone who is familiar playing the position, having done it in college and in the NFL for a few years. He was athletic then, but as a wrestler, he has slimmed down a bit and added even more athleticism. Moose is the perfect choice for my starting Left Tackle, if I may say so myself, which I just did. 6’5″ tall and weighing in at 299 pounds, he’s similar to the likes of David Bakhtiari (6’4″ and 310), Riley Reiff (6’6″ and 305), Russell Okung (6’5″ and 310), and Jedrick Wills (6’4″ and 307). My backup Tackles are Lance Archer and King Corbin. Both men are considered a little light for NFL Tackles, with Archer weighing 273 and Corbin coming in at 285. They’re both very athletic for their size, though, and balance that well with power. Corbin played Guard in his football days, but he was 30+ pounds heavier back then, so I moved him outside.
A Guard in the NFL has a lot on his plate when it comes to blocking, depending on offensive schemes and the opposing defensive schemes. They play on the inside of the Tackles, so they can be tasked with blocking interior Defensive Linemen, who are generally heavier and stronger than their counterparts at Defensive End. Again, depending on everything going on, Guards can end up having to block anyone, anywhere. Ideally, you want them to be super strong and capable of handling those interior rushers, but not too big and strong that they’re tripping over their own feet if they have to move. For my Left Guard, I’m going with Ivar of The Viking Raiders. At 6’2″ and 305 pounds, you can match him up with NFL Guards like Shaq Mason (6’1″ and 310) and Stefen Wisniewski (6’3″ and 305). Starting at Right Guard, Killian Dain strengthens my run blocking on the strong side. At 6’4″ and 385 pounds, he would be a huge Guard, but he has the great combination of speed and power that I’m looking for. The closest comparisons to Dain in the NFL would be Michael Onwenu (6’3″ and 350) and DJ Fluker (6’5″ and 342). My backups are going to be Hernandez and Doc Gallows. Hernandez would be a little “small” for the position at 6’2″ and 285 pounds, but if you’ve seen him wrestle, you know he brings that freaky combination of strength, speed, and athletic ability that I’m looking for here. Gallows, on the other hand, would be one of the taller blockers in the NFL at 6’8″, but at 290 pounds, he’s still agile enough to be a fantastic combo blocker for me.
Center is the final position on the Offensive Line, and many feel it’s the most important. He’s the player that snaps the ball to the Quarterback, first and foremost. However, he’s also the person generally blocking the opposing team’s biggest, strongest, and toughest Defensive Lineman. The Center is also one of the team leaders on offense, charged with taking a look at how the defense is lined up before the snap, and often being responsible for making any adjustments that need to be made for the rest of his teammates. For my starting Center, I’m going with Shane Taylor. He’s 6’1″ tall and weighs 338 pounds, so he’s plenty big to handle the hosses that will line up opposite him play after play. He’s also a very smart college graduate, making him capable of handling any of the on-the-fly adjustments and changes that come with the job. Size-wise, Taylor would be heavier and slightly shorter than NFL Centers are, making comparisons difficult. Someone like Nate Herbig (6’4″ and 334) is as close as it gets right now. My backup Center makes for an even more difficult size comparison, because he’s even bigger than Taylor is. At 6’2″ and 381 pounds, Calvin Tankman is unlike anything the NFL has ever seen at the position. He’d be as close as his name suggests… an absolute tank that is going to maul and mangle what’s in his way.
Defense (4-3 Formation – 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S)
With the offense now taken care of, it’s time to move on to the defensive side of the ball. Defensive End is a position in modern-day football that can require players to do a lot, depending on schemes and what the opposing offense is running. One of their primary jobs is rushing the passer, trying to remove a Quarterback’s head from his shoulders. You have your speed rushers at DE, and you have your power rushers. As their names indicate, that’s how they win their battles against the Offensive Line. I’m going to go with Roman Reigns in the first DE spot. He’s an incredibly explosive and violent athlete. He played Defensive Tackle on the interior of the line in college, but he’s slimmed down since then, so I shifted him to the outside. At 6’3″ and 265 pounds, he’s a good match to NFL Defensive Ends like DeMarcus Lawrence (6’3″ and 265), Ryan Kerrigan (6’4″ and 265), and Nick Bosa (6’4″ and 266). I think he could be a real terror coming off the edge. The other Defensive End spot will be taken by more of a power rush guy, and someone who, as previously mentioned, is going to be one of the stronger run defenders around. If we put Bobby Lashley here, I think that places my team in a successful situation. He’s 6’3″ and 273 pounds, so he’s almost the exact same size as Reigns, but the power that he brings to the table is very rare. Versatility will be the name of the game for my backups, as a bit of a theme throughout most of the positions. First of all, I’m going with Bray Wyatt. He’s slightly larger than the two starters, at 6’3″ and 285 pounds, but not by much. That puts him in line with Ends such as Da’Shawn Hand (6’3″ and 297) and Cameron Jordan (6’4″ and 287). Wyatt is also someone that could probably rotate inside and play Defensive Tackle in a pinch. Next up is Drew McIntyre. At 6’5″ and 265 pounds, he’s a little taller and leaner than the other Ends, but he would be the type of player that would do all the dirty work needed to get the job done. His size lines up nicely with the likes of Chase Young (6’5″ and 265) and Myles Garrett (6’4″ and 272).
As previously mentioned, Defensive Tackle is the position on the interior of the Defensive Line. Generally, these are your monsters in the middle, eating up blocks and making it difficult for the offense to advance. Some teams have Defensive Tackles that are basically the biggest players on the team, making it almost impossible for opposing blockers to do anything about them. Players like that don’t always put up the flashiest of stat lines, but when you’re, say, 375 pounds, you’re going to require multiple people to block you on any given play. With multiple blockers focused on one defender, that opens the door for other defenders to do damage. Some teams prefer their Defensive Tackles to be big, but still be tremendous athletes for their size. You can win with quickness up the middle when your opposition can’t keep up with you. My first pick for the Defensive Tackle spot is someone who played the position in college, so he already has the knowledge of what is needed. Big E gets the nod here. He’s going to be a tad short for a DT, but at 5’11” and 285 pounds, come on… his name isn’t Small E or Medium E. NFL Defensive Tackles like Grady Jarrett (6’0″ and 305) and Aaron Donald (6’1″ and 280) would be the closest size comparisons for him. Right next to Big E in my starting lineup is none other than Keith Lee. At 6’2″ and 340 pounds, he certainly qualifies for the “monster in the middle” tag. He’s built like an SUV and would cause all sorts of headaches for opposing blockers. His measurements fit right in with players like Dontari Poe (6’3″ and 346) and Danny Shelton (6’2″ and 345). For my backup Defensive Tackles, I’m going to start with someone that is, size-wise, in between my two starters. He’s someone that has a powerlifting and martial arts background, meaning he has flexibility and agility to go with his size and strength. Miro is the choice here. He’s 6’0″ and 304 pounds, and he carries that on his frame very well. That size lines up with players like Derrick Nnadi (6’1″ and 312) and Jurrell Casey (6’1″ and 305). My next selection is someone who has a similar body type to my two starters. Powerhouse Hobbs, come on down. He’s almost a little light for the position at 6’1″ and 270 pounds, but good luck pushing him around. Aaron Donald is a player I mentioned a little while ago, and he’s someone who got the “undersized” label for a while. All he’s done is make the Pro Bowl in every season he’s played, as well as be named the NFL Defensive Player Of The Year three times. Hobbs could be successful at that size, being the same height as Donald and only ten pounds lighter. While we’re talking about someone with the size and frame of Aaron Donald, that brings us to my final backup Defensive Tackle. Jacob Fatu is one of the most impressive “big men” in wrestling right now. A member of the famed Anoa’i Dynasty, he’s 6’2″ and 285 pounds, but he can move around like someone far smaller. Honestly, I’d probably have him as someone who could easily rotate from Defensive End to Defensive Tackle, playing anywhere that is needed.
Middle Linebacker is often called the “defensive Quarterback” because of everything that goes into the position. He’s usually the defender calling plays, calling out changes, and directing shifts. Due to this, he has to be one of your team’s smarter players and be capable of processing a ton of information at the same time without letting it get to him. Hmm… unfrazzled… that sounds like John Cena to me. That’s a man who has gone into some of the most hostile environments pro wrestling has seen over the last 15 years, and nothing ever seemed to get to him. I need someone like that running my defense. He’s 6’1″ and 251 pounds, similar to players like Jaylon Smith (6’2″ and 248), Bobby Wagner (6’0″ and 242), and Kenneth Murray (6’2″ and 241). His backup is someone that might come as a bit of a surprise to a lot of people. Like Cena, this man is someone who is used to hostile environments. Not only does he not get bothered by people in his face, he seems to welcome it. I think MJF is someone who could handle the pre-snap reads and the processing that comes with being a Middle Linebacker. At 5’11” and 226 pounds, he’s a lot smaller than Cena, but he’s going to win with his smarts, not his size and brute strength, anyway. His size matches up with Roquan Smith (6’0″ and 225), Eric Kendricks (6’0″ and 232), and Devin Bush (5’11” and 234), so he’s perfectly fine here.
I love my Outside Linebacker spots to be filled with players who are going to do tremendous amounts of damage as blitzers. Pull their string, let it go, and watch them go after the Quarterback with destruction in their eyes. First up is Apollo Crews. He has an elite combination of strength, speed, and athletic ability that has made him a blue-chip prospect in wrestling for years, and that can translate to football pretty easily. At 6’1″ and 242 pounds, he’s a good match to players like Shaq Barrett (6’2″ and 250), Mack Wilson (6’1″ and 233), and Darius Leonard (6’2″ and 230). Even with the “undersized” label, he’s going to be a chore to block, so Offensive Linemen had better pack a lunch. My other starting OLB is someone who has the type of wild, frenetic energy that would fit well in a position like this. Let me get Edge out there and watch as the “Ultimate Opportunist” does whatever he needs to do to hurt the man with the football in his hands. He’s a lot taller than Crews, but at 6’5″ tall and 241 pounds, he’s still a good fit for the NFL. Players like Anthony Barr (6’5″ and 255) and TJ Watt (6’4″ and 252) are a similar size. I have a couple absolute madmen in the backup OLB roles. First, you have Eddie Kingston, who has very little care for his own safety and wellbeing, so he damn sure isn’t going to have much for his opponents. Whether it’s blitzing the Quarterback, crashing in against the run, or even chipping in on pass coverage against Tight Ends or slot receivers, he’s going to look to harm someone. At 6’1″ and 244 pounds, he’s almost the exact same size as Apollo Crews, so look no further for size comparisons than those I’ve already listed. My next choice is someone who not only would play like a madman, but someone that looks like one, too. Nick Comoroto is the pick here. 6’3″ and 273 pounds of Bruiser Brody-like intensity. That works for me. Matthew Judon (6’3″ and 261) and Za’Darius Smith (6’4″ and 272) are great size comparisons here. My final Linebacker spot goes to a different type of player. At 6’5″ and 252 pounds, he’s plenty big and has a lot of the same size comparisons that Edge has. However, he’s someone that has a lot more finesse in his wrestling, and I think that could also translate well to football. Damian Priest and his athletic ability will fill multiple roles for my defense, and I love that.
Cornerback is an easy position to map out. You know how I said Wide Receivers are often some of the best pure athletes on a football team? Well, they’re covered by Cornerbacks on every play, so it’s safe to say you’re going to have some of your best athletes there, too. Straight line speed, backpedaling, and lateral agility are all extremely important here. If you’re looking for someone with an almost unfair level of speed and athletic ability, then Montez Ford is your man. He pulls things off in a wrestling ring that makes jaws drop all over the world, and he makes it all look effortless. At 6’1″ and 232 pounds, he would automatically become one of the heaviest Cornerbacks in NFL history, if not the outright heaviest. For comparison, some of the best “big” Cornerbacks in the NFL right now are Jalen Ramsey (6’1″ and 208), Richard Sherman (6’3″ and 205), Xavien Howard (6’1″ and 198), and Xavier Rhodes (6’1″ and 218). My other starting CB is much more in line with the size of the average NFL CB, and has shown time and time again to be one of the best athletes in wrestling. Hello, Cedric Alexander. At 5’10” and 205 pounds, Alexander matches up very well with Cornerbacks such as Jaire Alexander (5’10” and 196), Tre’Davious White (5’11” and 192), and Chris Harris (5’10” and 199). Two of the absolute stud athletes of the wrestling world locking down opposing Wide Receivers? Sign me up. While you’re signing me up for things, add me to the mailing list for yet another wrestler with some elite athletic ability to add to my stable of Cornerbacks. John Morrison… PARKOUR… you’re up next. 6’0″ and 215 pounds of athletic wizardry, Morrison matches up with the aforementioned Jalen Ramsey and Xavier Rhodes pretty well. In my normal defensive formation, Morrison would be a backup, but he could step onto the field if I shift to a Nickel (needing a fifth Defensive Back on the field) or Dime (six Defensive Backs) package. My next CB is someone that fits the Richard Sherman mold of taller, lanky players that use their overall length and long arms to wreak havoc against the pass. At 6’3″ and 198 pounds, Angélico is an incredible athlete. He hasn’t gotten a ton of chances to show that in AEW, but look no further than his work in Lucha Underground for numerous instances of show-stealing moves. To keep the CB corps going strong, my next pick is someone who might be the most underrated and underutilized talent in all of wrestling right now. Someone who could have that same type of underrated skill as a football player. The type of player that gets the job done, and done well, but doesn’t have the same type of high profile as some of his counterparts. I’m referring to Mustafa Ali here. He’s a little smaller than the rest of my Cornerbacks so far, coming in at 5’10” and 182 pounds. That’s still a good match to players like Mike Hughes (5’10” and 189) and Donte Jackson (5’10” and 180). Next up, I’m going to go with someone who has not only shown a ton of athletic ability as a pro wrestler, but also had a tremendous amount of success as an amateur wrestler. That guarantees that his agility and flexibility will be on point for the rigors of Cornerbackdom. My next pick is none other than Dolph Ziggler. He’s 6’0″ and 218 pounds, almost matching John Morrison’s measurables exactly, so look no further than that section for size comparisons. The final member of my Cornerback room is someone who is going to take a more physical approach to the game. Cornerbacks aren’t generally known for being the strongest or the toughest players, as it usually isn’t in their job description. However, sometimes you will find those players who do want to get physical. They do want to jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage and get in their head by throwing off their rhythm and timing. Hmm… someone in the normal size range of a Cornerback that loves the physicality of it all instead of only wanting to “flip, flop, and fly” all over the ring? Sounds like Kyle O’Reilly to me. He’ll take to the air, sure, but he would much rather wear his opponents down with strikes and drain the life out of them. I need that on my roster. He’s 6’0″ and 200 pounds, matching him up with Kendall Fuller (5’11” and 198), Jaylon Johnson (6’0″ and 195), and Jeff Okudah (6’1″ and 201).
A Free Safety is the defensive player usually playing the furthest away from the ball, almost literally making him the team’s last line of defense. He can provide assisted coverage to a Cornerback, help to cover an extra Wide Receiver, and even contribute as a blitzer. The FS is someone who not only needs to have a high level of speed and athletic ability, but a high level of smarts, as well. As the back-end player, opposing offenses often try to bait the FS into making the wrong move, which could let a Wide Receiver find himself wide open for chunk yardage plays. For my starter at the position, I want to go with someone who does have the great athletic traits needed, but also someone who has been around the block a lot. He has wrestled all over the world and has seen it all. That’s the type of player who isn’t going to get caught slipping too often. AJ Styles gets the nod here. He’s 5’11” and 218 pounds, matching him up with the likes of John Johnson (6’0″ and 209), Earl Thomas (5’10” and 220), and Kevin Byard (5’11” and 212). His backup is going to be someone that is very similar. Great athlete? Check. Successful everywhere he’s been? Check. A very smart “player” that isn’t going to be fooled and made to look silly as the offense tries to run play action? Check. Seth Rollins is the pick. He’s 6’1″ and 217 pounds, making him close to Styles, but also close to a player like Minkah Fitzpatrick (6’1″ and 207), who has excelled at the position.
Finally, we get to the Strong Safety. The name has a bit of a double meaning. You want your Strong Safety to be bigger and generally more physical than your Free Safety, but the name comes from him lining up on the strong side of the offense. Playing closer to the line of scrimmage, the SS is almost a hybrid of a Defensive Back and a Linebacker, asked to handle the run game a lot as well as covering players in the pass game. I went back and forth with a ton of names before settling on my starter here. He’s slightly bigger and stockier than my Free Safeties, has a ton of toughness, but is also someone that has always shown a high level of athleticism. Let’s go with R-Truth here. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. He’s 6’2″ and 220 pounds, and if he’s going to be a DB/LB hybrid, that works, as he’s about smack dab in between the sizes of my Defensive Backs and Linebackers. He lines up with NFL Strong Safeties like Harrison Smith (6’2″ and 214), Jamal Adams (6’1″ and 213), Terrell Edmunds (6’1″ and 217), and Derwin James (6’2″ and 215). For my backup SS, I’m going to go with someone who is wild and unpredictable. When you look up the word “unorthodox” in the dictionary, you’re going to see a picture of Shinsuke Nakamura looking back at you. At 6’2″ and 229 pounds, he’s close to R-Truth’s size, so there’s your size comparisons. He’d be someone I could line up in a variety of schemes, and the opposing offense would never be able to get a good read on him. Is he going to blitz the Quarterback? Will he float out and cover the Running Back in the passing game? Maybe he’ll drop back into zone coverage and make things difficult for any Wide Receiver coming his way instead. That’s the beauty of it. You just don’t know, but you always have to be aware of where he is at all times.
That was A TON of work. Wow. After some finagling, I got to 51 players, which would give me the maximum of 53 if I were to include a Kicker and a Punter. Now, it’s your turn, ReaderLand. I’m not expecting you to make your own 53-man squad, but I want to hear what you’d do with some of your key positions. I could get X amount of replies and every one of them features completely different players all over the board. As always, hit me up in the comments section below or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind. Again, don’t forget to check out my NFL Draft coverage on Twitter from 4/29-5/1. I’ll be back in my usual Wednesday spot next week.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Kenny Omega Trying To Complete The Wrestling Infinity Gauntlet: AAA Mega Champion. AEW World Champion. Now, he can add Impact World Champion to his list of titles currently held. He’s halfway to collecting all of the Infinity Stones, apparently. Look out, Suwama, because he’s probably coming for your Triple Crown Heavyweight Title next. You and your CZW World Heavyweight Title are up after that, Joe Gacy. Finally, Utami Hayashishita’s World Of Stardom Championship will allow Omega to hit a Snapdragon Suplex and wipe out half of the WWE Universe… or something like that.
- Big Stakes For The Upcoming Roman Reigns vs Daniel Bryan Match: Having the Universal Title on the line is usually big enough. WWE has decided to add to the intrigue, though, by putting Daniel Bryan’s Smackdown career on the line, too. You could look at this in one of two ways. They were careful to say that Bryan had to leave Smackdown, not WWE, if he lost the match, so you could say he’ll just go to Raw instead. Or… you could play into all the talk Bryan has had recently about the end of his career rapidly approaching. We wouldn’t just get Daniel Bryan’s WWE retirement match on a random episode of Smackdown, would we? Most likely not, but again, it’s part of the intrigue for the match.
- Hikaru Shida vs Tay Conti: My favorite match of the week. I’m someone who has been a big fan of Shida’s AEW Women’s Title reign. She has been doing a great job in building the prestige of the title, taking on all comers for nearly a full year. I don’t know if many people actually thought Conti was going to win this match, but she did a great job, as well. It’s probably the best match I’ve seen her have. While we’re at it, is Tay Conti’s meteoric rise since joining AEW the biggest sign that the WWE Performance Center isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to or what? She spent three-and-a-half years under WWE contract, which was the beginning of her pro wrestling journey. In that time, let’s just say that she didn’t exactly show a ton of improvement in the ring. I don’t think that’s unfair for me to say. In the eight months that she’s been with AEW, it’s like she’s an entirely different performer. I’ve said it before, but in my opinion, almost all of the best wrestlers in the world have been able to ply their craft in several different places. It helps you learn, and you pick up new things along the way. Working the independent scene is great. Getting to travel to places like Mexico, Europe, and Japan are all wonderful. Getting to put things together is fantastic, even for those adding it all to the “WWE style” of working. Having new trainers, a new “style” to learn, and new opponents to compete against is the best thing that could’ve happened to Tay Conti’s career.
- Cesaro & Daniel Bryan vs Seth Rollins & Jey Uso: Needless to say, considering who was in the match, this was high quality. It was interesting to see Rollins get pseudo-aligned with Roman Reigns again, even for a little while. I’m also very interested to see what happens with Cesaro, and whether or not WWE actually pulls the trigger on giving him a major singles push.
- Non-Peacock Wrestling Shows: The A&E Documentaries on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper were both must-see. Even for hardcore fans, you’re going to a level of depth that has been previously unseen, and you’ll find yourself learning things about both men. I have no doubt the same will be said about this week’s episode on “Macho Man” Randy Savage. WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures, also airing on A&E, has been a ton of fun, too. Now, we’re about a week away from the season three premiere of Vice’s Dark Side Of The Ring, which has been incredible from episode one. The season starts off with an episode on the life and times of Brian Pillman, who has one of the most fascinating, and ultimately tragic, stories in wrestling history. This is a very, VERY good time for wrestling shows that aren’t on The ‘Cock.
- Drew McIntyre vs Braun Strowman: None of us have a fucking clue what is going on with T-Bar and Mace on Raw. T-Bar and Mace don’t have a fucking clue what is going on with T-Bar and Mace on Raw. Vince McMahon doesn’t have a fucking clue. With all that said, their interference, and then opposing interference, is at least some sort of hook for what the hell they’re going to do next. We went from them being aligned with Mustafa Ali to people wondering if they were members of The Hurt Business, and now, to people wondering if they’re in some sort of grouping with Braun Strowman. The match itself was fun. Strowman’s win makes the WWE Title match at WrestleMania Backlash a Triple Threat now, which opens the door to lots of possibilities. Too bad nobody expects the Raw writers to make anything good come of it.
- Aleister Black Is Aleister Back: Come on… I had to say it. We’ve seen the whole “let’s run a bunch of vignettes for him” thing for Black in the past, and it pretty much went nowhere. That very well could happen again. I’m just happy to see him back on television for the first time in six months.
- KUSHIDA & MSK vs Legado Del Fantasma: While I really wish they would do more with Santos Escobar in NXT, I’m happy to see him continue his long streak of entertaining matches. MSK is being given quite the push right out of the gate. KUSHIDA is also on quite the roll right now. This was a lot of fun, as expected.
- Darby Allin vs Jungle Boy: I’ve seen some people go so far as to say that this will end up being like AEW’s version of Steve Austin vs The Rock or Triple H vs The Rock, where they’ll have a legendary midcard feud and end up having a legendary main event feud sooner than later. I don’t know if I can go that far just yet, but it’s clear that there are bright days ahead of both Darby and Jungle Boy, so it’s certainly possible. Most people were surprised when Darby defeated Cody to win the TNT Championship. I think even more people are surprised that he’s still the champion, almost six months later. Eight successful title defenses later, and here we are.
- Ted DiBiase: From the beginning, we all knew Ted DiBiase would eventually get involved in the current Cameron Grimes storyline. It was still great to see him make an appearance on NXT in a video where Grimes was looking to buy the biggest watch he could possibly find. Just when he was about to purchase a watch, DiBiase shows up with a much brighter and much more expensive watch of his own. Grimes is so entertaining in this role, but damn, I’d love to see some more appearances from DiBiase. As always, folks, I am contractually obligated to mention the fact that Grimes nearly broke my leg at an independent show a few years back.
This Week’s Playlist: “The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground… “Doowutchyalike” by Digital Underground… “Freaks Of The Industry” by Digital Underground… “Same Song” by Digital Underground & 2Pac… “Kiss You Back” by Digital Underground… “I Get Around” by 2Pac & Digital Underground… “I Got 5 On It (Remix)” by Luniz, Shock G/Humpty Hump, Spice 1, Dru Down, Richie Rich & E-40… “Can I Rap” by Roach Gigz… “Ain’t Nothing Like Pimpin” by Too $hort… “Cocktales” by Too $hort… “Can I Get A Bitch” by Too $hort & Ant Banks… “Top Down” by Too $hort… “Gettin’ It” by Too $hort… “Undercover Freaks” by Tear Da Club Up Thugs, Too $hort & T-Rock… “Players Holiday” by TWDY, Too $hort & Mac Mall… “It’s Goin’ Down” by Celly Cel… “City 2 City” by B-Legit… “Check It Out” by B-Legit, E-40 & Kurupt… “Gotta Buy Your Dope From Us” by B-Legit, Little Bruce & C-Bo… “Ghetto Smile” by B-Legit & Daryl Hall… “Come On” by E-40 & B-Legit… “Hurricane” by The Click… “Dock Of The Bay” by The WhoRidas… “Let’s Ride” by Richie Rich… “Are You Still Down?” by Jon B & 2Pac… “Playaz Club” by Rappin 4-Tay… “I’ll Be Around” by Rappin 4-Tay… “Pimp Of The Year” by Dru Down… “Keep It On The Real” by 3X Krazy… “Sprinkle Me” by E-40 & Suga-T