Thursday, August 05, 2021

CBS Sports: 2021 NFL Survivor Squad


Original article: 2021 Survivor Squad: Building a 32-man juggernaut with one pick from every single team

4. Presenting the NFL's 2021 survivor squad

For the second straight year, Jared Dubin is giving us his survivor squad. If you don't have any idea what a survivor squad is, don't worry, I didn't either until about five minutes ago. Basically, the goal is to make something similar to a Pro Bowl roster, but with one huge catch: You can only use one player from each team

The Chiefs might be the best team in the AFC, but you can't put both Patrick Mahomes AND Tyreek Hill on the Survivor Squad because Kansas City is only allowed to have one player on the team. 

With that in mind, let's check out the offensive players on Dubin's survivor squad: 

QB: Aaron Roders, Packers
RB: Dalvin Cook, Vikings
WR: D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks
WR: A.J. Brown, Titans
Slot: CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys
TE: George Kittle, 49ers
TE: T.J. Hockenson, Lions
LT: Laremy Tunsil, Texans
LG: Ali Marpet, Buccaneers
C: Corey Linsley, Chargers
RG: Brandon Scherff, Washington
RT: Lane Johnson, Eagles
Flex: Ja'Marr Chase, Bengals

If you want to see the defensive starters and the coaching staff from the survivor squad, be sure to click here. The one thing about the defensive starters is that none of them can come from the 13 teams listed above. 


2021 NFL Survivor Squad: Building a 32-man juggernaut with one pick from every single team

Our second annual survivor squad is here with a caveat



August 5, 2021

Last offseason, we unveiled our first NFL Survivor Squad, trying to build the best possible roster using one representative and only one representative from each of the 32 NFL teams. Well, we're here to do that again -- but with a twist this time around. 

To make things more challenging on myself and avoid just reprinting the same article we ran this time last year, I unilaterally declared every player and coach that made last year's roster ineligible for this year's exercise. That means none of Bill Belichick, Greg Roman, Robert Saleh, Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, Zach Ertz, Darren Waller, Kenny Golladay, Jake Matthews, Quenton Nelson, Brandon Linder, Zack Martin, Jack Conklin, Von Miller, Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt, Kenny Clark, Kyle Van Noy, Bobby Wagner, Eric Kendricks, Tre'Davious White, James Bradberry, Chris Harris Jr., Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jamal Adams, Tress Way, Randy Bullock, or Adoree' Jackson were considered for the team. 

Obviously, that opened things up considerably. Eliminating the best quarterback (Mahomes) and best defensive player (Donald) forced us to get much more creative in our roster-building, and doing so led to many more players than there were last year in consideration at almost every position. It also led to a lot of different roster configurations, which was fun as part of the exercise but probably not so good for my sanity. 

In an exercise like this, it's important to know exactly how you want to build your team. To compete in the modern NFL, you have to recognize that the passing game is king, and build the roster accordingly. So, in all toss-up decisions, the tiebreaker was whichever would help our offense throw the ball and our defense stop the opposing offense from doing the same. 

Excited for the biggest NFL schedule in history? Follow along on the CBS Sports app and get the latest insights from our team of NFL insiders, plus news from our team of experts, as well as data insights on every player. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to favorite the your favorite team so you don't miss a thing!

Once again, we wanted our team to be as flexible as possible -- especially on defense, where the ability to disguise what you're doing and have players fill multiple roles depending on the snap is paramount. So, pass-catching running backs, receivers who could play on the perimeter or in the slot, defensive linemen who could flex to the edge or inside, linebackers that excel against the run and the pass, and safeties who could drop down into the box, play up high, or slide to the slot were all things that we looked for in building the roster. 

All that said, a few quick notes before you get to the reveal of the full roster: 

·        The players selected at each position are not necessarily the best players at that particular position, but those that made the most sense on a roster where you can only (and have to) take one representative from each team. Laremy Tunsil isn't the NFL's best left tackle, but he's the only Texans player even remotely worthy of consideration for this exercise so he made the team.

·        The same is true of the players listed in the "also-considered" section. 

·        Tunsil was the only "must-have" player this year. All 31 other teams had players or coaches in consideration at multiple positions. 

Without further ado, let's walk through our squad.  

Tight Ends

Tight ends: George Kittle (49ers) and T.J. Hockenson (Lions)

Last year (ineligible): Zach Ertz (Eagles) and Darren Waller (Raiders)

We gave serious consideration to putting Kittle and Travis Kelce on this roster. In that construction, we would have gone with Frank Ragnow at center, John Harbaugh as head coach, and Derwin James as our flex defensive back. This version of the roster seems better, though. Hockenson is a solid fit as the second tight end, and we'd rather an offensive head coach at the helm than a CEO type like Harbaugh. Kittle is going to be on the field at all times anyway, given his facility as a blocker and pass-catcher, and Reid doesn't even have to change much about the way his offense works to incorporate a star with his talents. 

Also considered: Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Dallas Goedert, Noah Fant, Mike Gesicki, Logan Thomas, Kyle Pitts, Robert Tonyan

Offensive line

Right guard: Brandon Scherff (Football Team)

Last year (ineligible): Zack Martin (Cowboys)

Scherff is an excellent all-around guard and it's hard to believe the Football Team has yet to find a way to come to an agreement with him on a contract extension. Like Martin, he is a success story for the "take a college tackle and kick him inside to guard" development path. In addition to being a really solid run and pass blocker, he's had only 23 penalties accepted across his six NFL seasons. Nice work.

Also considered: Elgton Jenkins, Gabe Jackson, Shaq Mason, Wyatt Teller

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