Five players from the past who could have thrived in today’s NFL

It’s too often that we see intriguing players come out of college with unique skillsets that were failed to be maximized at the next level in this league. Or they were good players, but could have been even better in a league with an emphasis on creative play calling, gadget plays, and versatility. In the past players were seen as ‘tweeners’ or their ability was too different from what the league demanded at the time.

Today we look at five players, who if entering the league as a rookie this season, could have thoroughly dominated with the creative minds in the modern NFL.

1. Pat White

One of the most dominant college football quarterbacks of all time, Pat White was an absolute force for the West Virginia Mountaineers, rewriting their entire record book. The QB not only excelled as a passer, but was one of the most versatile athletes in the country, putting together multiple seasons over 1,200 rushing yards, as well as a 47 rushing touchdowns over his four year stint with the team. He also shined as a passer in his senior season, showing progression and true development that demonstrated White could potentially succeed in the NFL.

White ended up being drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft, where he ultimately only lasted a single season, being waived during the 2010 season.

While White did not fit the mold of what NFL teams were looking for at the time, it is hard to imagine a player with White’s profile replicating what was his unfortunate career were he to be drafted today. Teams are desperate to find someone with White’s skillset today, and perhaps he would have had a different path in the modern league.

2. Brian Westbrook

Widely regarded as one of the most underrated players in NFL history, it is scary to think about what the elite running back could have accomplished in the style of offenses that exist today. Brian Westbrook was fortunate enough to play under one of the greatest offensive masterminds in NFL history with head coach Andy Reid, and that showed with just how the Eagles used him during his time in Philadelphia.

A true dual threat, Westbrook had four straight seasons over over 600 rushing and receiving yards, making him a key piece of a dominant Philly offense. Westbrook is one of the original bastions of the dual threat back, alongside the likes of Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk.

Had he been in today’s league, it is hard to imagine Westbrook’s numbers would not be further inflated. With players like Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and Austin Ekeler being some of the most dominant players at the position, it is easy to see a place for Brian Westbrook in this league. Perhaps he could have achieved the rare 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a season milestone that is held for only the most elite dual threats.

3. Dante Hall

Known as ‘The Human Joystick,” it is easy to see why one of the most special special teams players of all times makes this list. While Dante Hall was not often featured on offense, it was not due to a lack of skill on his part.

With the Chiefs, Hall was given some opportunities to show off his offensive prowess, though it never amounted to more than 60 touches on a season. In his best year on offense, Hall did manage to wrack up just under 500 offensive yards on 56 touches. Hall’s value ultimately was not on offense, but as a kick returner and is widely regarded as one of the best to do it.

With the likes of Cordarrelle Patterson making an impact today, it isn’t hard to imagine giving Dante Hall a similar role and allowing his natural agility and athleticism to take over in whatever situation you can get him the ball in open space. Hall would almost certainly be one of the top gadget players in the league today if he was given the chance.

4. Julian Peterson

This list would not be complete without a mention on one of the numerous defensive players who’s potential was never fully unlocked, the likes of Julian Peterson is a prime example. Though his talent was obvious, as seen by his selection in the first round via the 49ers, it is hard to say that his potential was fully unlocked in a league that didn’t really know how to use him.

Peterson was still a good player in the league over his career that lasted a decade, including a season where he managed ten sacks, two turnovers, and 89 tackles in what was his most dominant year. Though given how creative defensive play callers have gotten, it could be considered a lost opportunity for a player of his talent caliber. With the likes of Jeremy Chinn, Micah Parsons, and so many others dominating at a variance of positions and roles, Peterson could have been a multiple time all pro talent, and perhaps one of the most productive sack artists in today’s game.

5. Kordell Stewart

Kordell ‘Slash’ Stewart was a player who forced the team that drafted him to be progressive and attempt to maximize his incredible skillset as both a passer and rusher in the league back in the late 1990s. Stewart was successful as a leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers for his first handful of seasons, directing them to two playoff appearances as a starter,

Without a true read option system existing the NFL during that time, it was hard to really take full advantage of Stewart’s amazing skillset as well as his tempo as a passer. With a career high 11 rushing touchdowns in a single season, and never a season over 500 yards, it feels like a missed opportunity for one of the most gifted athletes at the position over the years. Stewart certainly could have been a 1,000 yard rusher, as well as a more efficient passer in today’s game, with a system that would accommodate and maximize exactly what Slash could do.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire