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Ultimate Building Blocks: AFC East

6/12/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
ESPN.com asked each of its bloggers to construct a team to win the Super Bowl for the next three seasons using players only from within the division.

We were given 10 selections before, presumably, being forced to fill out the rest of our roster with open tryouts like the one that turned up Vince Papale for the Philadelphia Eagles.

1. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. If you're looking for someone to lead you to the Super Bowl, the top pick has to be Brady -- not only in the AFC East, but also the entire league. The two-time Super Bowl MVP has a lot of great years left in him. He will turn 32 in August.

2. Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets. In his second pro season he emerged as one of the NFL's top cover corners. He intercepted five passes and went to the Pro Bowl. He'll turn 24 right before training camp.

3. Jake Long, LT, Dolphins. The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2008 had an impeccable season at one of the game's most important positions. Long showed no weaknesses in run or pass blocking, and was good enough to get sent to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.

4. Randy Moss, WR, Patriots. He's 32 years old, but we're gunning to be a Super Bowl team over the next three years. Moss has enough elite football left in him for that task, and we don't want to break up one of the game's most lethal passing combinations.

5. Vince Wilfork, NT, Patriots. Like three-quarters of the division, we'll stick with a 3-4 defense. Wilfork is an elite nose tackle and just 27 years old.

6. Nick Mangold, C, Jets. At 25 years old, he is establishing himself as one of the best. He would be a keystone on any offensive line. He already has been to a Pro Bowl.

7. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills. We selected Lynch over Dolphins catalyst Ronnie Brown, but Lynch is four years younger and runs much harder. Off-field problems are a concern, but based purely on running ability, the 23-year-old Lynch is entering the prime period of his career.

8. Richard Seymour, DE, Patriots. He's a five-time Pro Bowler, led the Patriots last year with eight sacks and doesn't turn 30 until October. What's not to like?

9. Calvin Pace, OLB, Jets. We need a speed-rusher for our 3-4 defense, and Pace offers the best combination of skill and youth. He led the AFC East in tackles for losses last year.

10. Vernon Carey, RT, Dolphins. There were quite a few players left to consider, but we went with the best right tackle in the division to give Brady a formidable offensive line. Carey will turn 28 in training camp.

A few notes:

  • This is not a list of the 10 best players in the division. We were assembling a team and needed to distribute talent among all positions. Once I selected Moss, there wasn't enough room to consider Lee Evans or Wes Welker, too. Once I took a nose tackle, Kris Jenkins would have been redundant.

  • As you can tell by my explanations, age played a major role. This team has to be good for the next three years. That ruled out big names such as Jason Taylor and Terrell Owens. It's also why I went with Long over Matt Light and Pace over Joey Porter.

  • Jerod Mayo almost made the cut. He's going to be a star, but inside linebackers are among the easier players to find. I rated pass-rushing outside linebacker and right tackle to be more valuable positions.

  • There are some talented, young safeties and guards in the
    AFC East, yet none good enough to supplant the players on this list.

  • I gave strong consideration to including Leon Washington because he's three threats in one: Running back, receiver and kick returner. Players such as him, however, are luxuries, not building blocks.