To mark the 20-year anniversary of Purdue's dramatic turnaround in football beginning in 1997, GoldandBlack.com spent the past 10 weeks conducting a fantasy draft of sorts, compiling teams made up of the best Boilermaker players from the past two decades.
Now, Stacy Clardie, Kyle Charters, Alan Karpick and Brian Neubert review their teams and the process.
Clearly, this defense has everything: Elite-level pass rushers, hard-hitting and wide-ranging linebackers and safeties, ball-hawking DBs, playmakers at every spot and the most production out of any of the defenses assembled in this draft. It's a unit that will dictate games with its ability to not only force turnovers — but score points on its own.
I drafted with the strategy of having a legit disruptive line backed by a playmaking secondary, which is why the front and the back half were priorities. (Eight of my first nine selections were defensive players).
I made my selections with a nickel base defense in mind — it's boggling why no one else did, considering the fake offenses we'll be playing are loaded with three-receiver/one pass-catching-specific tight end sets. A linebacker against Dustin Keller? No thanks.
Though I would have loved to have gotten Ray Edwards as my second defensive end — that's my only "regret" of the draft — my front four still is dominant with up-and-coming Gelen Robinson opposite Ryan Kerrigan, especially considering Robinson will be the least likely to be doubled, and he has the strength and athleticism to more than hold his own either in a run-stopping or pass-rushing capacity on the edge. But it's more about the complete view of the front, and it's significant: A whopping 82 sacks and 162.5 tackles for loss. No other defense in this deal can boast numbers like that.
In terms of the back half, again, it's unmatched. Hands down, I have the two best safeties of the last 20 years, and they play with an edge and tons of production. Stuart Schweigert has more interceptions than anyone at Purdue, and Bernard Pollard easily could slide down into the box as a third linebacker. No one had more pick-sixes than Ricardo Allen, and Frankie Williams and David Pender combined for an astonishing 59 career PBUs. Again, it's a complete package in the back half: A whopping 47 career interceptions (more than any other group), playmakers at every spot and sure tacklers across the board.
A defensive-minded approach didn't hurt my offense one bit.
My group of receivers, including the tight ends, combined for nearly 900 catches and 9,600 career yards with 65 receiving touchdowns. Few of my colleagues have offenses that can stack up with those kind of numbers.
Same can be said in the backfield where my 1-2 punch of Ralph Bolden and Jerod Void combined for nearly 4,400 yards rushing and 51 touchdowns. Other than Kory Sheets — the most-obvious best running back of the last 20 years and, deservedly, a high-profile selection — the other running back combinations on these drafted teams don't compare.
And the quarterback selection played out exactly as I hoped. I'd targeted Joey Elliott as soon as Brees and Orton were taken, and I knew I could wait on him because someone would take Curtis Painter and his inflated numbers first. As I explained when I took Elliott, he's everything I was looking for in a QB — solid numbers, yes, but much more with a fiery personality and good tools.
But none of those skill guys would matter if the O-line didn't shake out how I wanted: A tough, mean, somewhat dirty collection of fellas who would fearlessly protect in the passing game and ruthlessly pave the way in the run game. The personality of each of my lineman is exactly that — and there's plenty of physical talent, too, to deliver on those elements.
Most of my team is from the later range of our 20-year pool, and, as I said throughout this process, that was by design because of my personal experience with the program from 2004 on. If there was a debate between a pair of players, especially toward the later rounds, I was going to go with someone I actually saw in person rather than just heard about. There was potential for that strategy to maybe not have been accepted by some folks, but I never had much concern about that. There were enough good players to grab from the non-Rose Bowl team, and I did.
One maybe intangible element that I really like about the team I drafted: I have 11 captains. As much as ability and production mattered in assembling these fake teams, for me, so did attitude, integrity and leadership. There were honestly guys I selected over someone who arguably may have been slightly more talented because I preferred the attitude of the one player or like how he approached the game. That was our prerogative in this.
Round 2: No. 6 (Stuart Schweigert)
Round 3: No. 10 (Bernard Pollard)
Round 4: No. 14 (Kawann Short)
Round 5: No. 18 (Taylor Stubblefield)
Round 6: No. 22 (Craig Terrill)
Round 7: No. 26 (Ricardo Allen)
Round 8: No. 30 (David Pender)
Round 9: No. 34 (Willie Fells)
Round 10: No. 38 (Jordan Grimes)
Round 11: No. 42 (Kelly Butler)
Round 12: No. 46 (Greg Orton)
Round 13: No. 50 (Tim Stratton)
Round 14: No. 54 (Sean Sester)
Round 15: No. 58 (Frankie Williams)
Round 16: No. 62 (Markus Bailey)
Round 17: No. 66 (Robert Kugler)
Round 18: No. 70 (Robbie Powell)
Round 19: No. 74 (Aaron Valentin)
Round 20: No. 78 (Justin Sinz)
Round 21: No. 82 (Ralph Bolden)
Round 22: No. 86 (Jerod Void)
Round 23: No. 90 (Joey Elliott)
Round 24: No. 94 (Gelen Robinson)
Round 25: No. 98 (Joe Holland)
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