When I was younger, in our constant debates over the current state and future of the Patriots, my brother and I would often envision the following scenario:
Pretend you were General Manager of the Patriots, and you were in charge of rebuilding the team. As part of the project, you were allowed to keep just five players from the current roster to carry over into the next generation. They could be any five players that you wanted, with contract situations cast aside for the time being.
Since it's a Sunday during the slowest period of the NFL calendar, I thought this could be a fun exercise that could spark some debate. It's an exercise that really makes you think about who the most valuable players are on a team, both in the present and longterm. When picking your five players, you might want to consider the following factors:
Age/Potential: Getting an aging veteran on the downside of their career probably wouldn't be the smartest idea for a rebuilding team. At the same time, going with a high-upside player with little to no NFL experience could constitute a risk.
Importance of Position: Everyone knows how much more difficult it is to find a franchise quarterback than to find a good running back. Factors such as that should be taken into consideration when picking your five.
Balance of Positions: When picking your five, you likely want to strike a good balance between skill players, defensive players, and possibly specialists.
So who would be my five? Check in after the jump to find out!
1. Tom Brady, QB: Championship teams still start with the quarterback. Even though he'll be 35 this August, Tom still has enough good years left to make him worthy of one of my five picks, even over a young player with potential like Ryan Mallett.
2. Jerod Mayo, LB: A captain and game-changer, Mayo will be the anchor of the defense for another six or seven years, at least, at the young age of 26.
3. Rob Gronkowski, TE: Gronkowski has the chance to forever change the tight end position. Plus, at age 23, he becomes the team's playmaker for the next decade.
4. Nate Solder, T: Finding a reliable left tackle isn't an easy task. In just one NFL season, Solder showed he can be exactly that for the Patriots. Solder is 24, and should anchor the line for years. I chose him over Mankins because of the importance of the position Solder plays.
5. Chander Jones, DE: This is admittedly a huge risk, as Jones is a high upside rookie who has yet to play a down in the NFL. However, I think a good defense starts with the pass rush, and Jones gives the team a piece for the future.
Just missed: Aaron Hernandez, TE/WR; Vince Wilfork, DL; Devin McCourty, CB; Logan Mankins, OG; Dont'a Hightower, LB; Patrick Chung, S; Wes Welker, WR; Brandon Spikes, LB
Feel free to pick your own five and leave it in the comments section!