Drafting the Premier League…. NFL Style

Premier League Draft
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With the NFL Draft coming our way on Thursday, who would be selected in a draft of Premier League players?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

We were able to dial up two of our writers, Joe Prince-Wright and Nick Mendola, to complete this intriguing exercise.

The ground rules were simple: Select XI players, a super sub, a manager, and a home ground.

The only limits on representation was that a drafter could only select one player per position group (goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, forwards) per club.

So it’s okay to have Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk, but not Mo Salah and Sadio Mane.

Without further adieu, the entire text conversation between our general managers…

Nicholas Mendola: Alright, as editor of this fine page, you get the first pick. Remember: Eleven players, a manager, a ground, and a super sub. Surely we can’t screw this up with just two of us (Edit Note: They could).

Joe Prince-Wright: Okay, I will get things started with the honor of having the first overall pick… Move over Joe Burrow, I’m going with… Harry Kane.

NM:Whoa!

JPW: I picked Kane because like the postman, he always delivers. He’s just the type of guy any team in the world can build their attack around. I know there are flashier players out there as a first pick but Kane is the most complete striker. Who you going with for your first pick, Nick?

NM: Totally torn between the best playmaker in the league and an absolute monster at the back. NFL people would surely tell you defense wins championships, but so does spraying the ball all over the pitch and having a rocket of a shot to boot… I’m taking Kevin De Bruyne.

JPW: KDB, fair play. A proper QB. A players’ player. 

NM: Kevin De Brady (Go Bills, though).

JPW: Haha! With my second pick I’m going for “D-fence! D-fence!” Virgil van Dijk. It has to be. Big Virg makes everyone around him better and he will win the Ballon d’Or next year or the year after. You’re on the clock, Nick

NM: It was definitely one or the other for me between KDB and VVD! Great applause for the former Celtic and Saints man.

For my second pick, I’m going to give KDB a target and also keep up our run on three-initialed stars. He’s not having his very best year, but I believe he will flourish with something steadier in his midfield. From Gabon, Mr. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

JPW: Nicely done. Auba has been sensational since he arrived at Arsenal. I’m pretty jealous of that pick… 

Okay, here’s my third pick. I’m getting in here early with my manager selection. Because I both know we will be going for one of two managers. I’m going with Jurgen Klopp. I mean, dude, come on.

How can you not love Klopp? He is the dream manager for players. They love him. He loves them. Fans love him. My squad will play a high-tempo, attacking brand. Klopp is my pick and he is a legend at Anfield and beyond. Klopp is just a nice bloke. End of. 

Who are you taking with your third pick?

NM: I’m going to go full competitor here and wait to take my manager for at least a pick or two.
Pretty torn here between two players, but I feel a need to lay claim to my favorite midfielder. Another guy who isn’t having his very best year, but that’s due to injury. You took a player who could win a Ballon d’Or, I’m taking one who’s been robbed of one — sorry, Luka Modric — Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante.

JPW: Ah man, N’Golo Kante was my next pick. No. No. No. Great pick from you but I’m gutted. 

NM: (takes bow, looks wistfully at the gleaming chompers of Klopp in your dugout)

JPW: Here’s my fourth pick… I’m going with another fine center back to join Virgil van Dijk. It is, of course, Harry Maguire. I don’t think anybody would get past a center back partnership of Maguire and VVD.

Slabhead had a slow start at Man United but he’s kicked on massively in the second half of the season and now has the captains armband. Marauding Maguire is my favorite Maguire.

NM: Slabhead?!? Unreal banter.

JPW: Defense builds championships, Nick… Our ta

NM: And I have none yet. I’m changing that…. kind of.

I’ve gone three picks and have not selected anyone from the leaders. And this guy is *technically* a right back. For me, I have a feeling I’ll have him playing midfield, but I won’t burn the rules: Trent Alexander-Arnold.

JPW: TAA was an attacking player in the youth teams, you know. Definitely can’t tell by the way he plays at right back… Very good pick my man.

Okay, my fifth pick is an easy one. Can’t believe he’s stayed on the board this long. Welcome to my squad, Sadio Mane! He’s having a superb season and I think he’s right up there with De Bruyne in the player of the year conversation.

Defenders are petrified of Mane’s pace and direct runs. Injuries impacted him in recent months but he is perfect for Liverpool and for my squad.

NM: Alright I’ll restore level footing by taking my manager. and it’s Pep. it was always going to be Pep. Honorable mention to Nuno and his magnificent beard.

JPW: It was honestly a flip of a coin between him and Klopp. And yes, what a job Nuno is doing! 

That brings me nicely to my sixth pick… Adama Traore! What a season he’s having and with Traore and Mane running at goal and Kane sniffing around for loose balls, my attack is stacked!

NM: Interesting shout. I’m gonna go off the board a bit, too. Joining Kante in wrecking your attack is the only player who can come close to recreating the Frenchman’s act: Wilfred Ndidi.

JPW: My goodness, he was on my board. Ndidi has been sublime. Leicester missed him a lot when he was out injured. Okay, I’m coming in with my 7th pick… Ederson! It’s a toss-up between him and Alisson, and Rui Patricio is in the conversation too. I’m going for Ederson though. His distribution is sublime. 

NM: I’m taking the man who shines in front of your latest pick, because I’ll need a remarkable distributor behind Ndidi and Kante. Aymeric Laporte, get ready to ping.

JPW: Man City’s real MVP is Laporte, as we’ve seen this season. You’re very good as this drafting lark, Nick. 

NM: It’s getting to the tricky parts now, I fear.
JPW: Okay, I’m picking up Andy Robertson with my next pick. Best left back in the PL and Robbo is what I would call a proper bloke on and off the pitch. The flying Scotsman is a menace down the left flank

Oh no, I just realized I can’t have Robbo Let me pick again!

Okay, I’m going with Reece James here. I panicked a little, but he’s very, very good

NM: Hahaha. Wild card! Quick on your feet, though….
I’m going off a small sample size here…

Can you guess where I’m going? Midfielder…

Nations League winner…

JPW: No, please no. Not the next name on my list

NM: No. 18 in your programs but No. 1 in your heart…. Bruno Fernandes.

JPW: Man, he was my next pick. Wow. What a player.

NM: My apologies.

JPW: Alright, I’m going with a beauty of a pick from Man City, the man who can hold it all together. Fernandinho.  

NM: I love that. Are you playing him at CB or CM, though?!?

JPW: I can’t reveal my strategy here.

NM: Klopp would never allow it. Alright speaking of Liverpool, let’s stop with the nonsense and plug the handsome, very full beard of Alisson Becker between the sticks.

JPW: Superb pick. Okay, next up I’m going with the pride of Manchester. Marcus Rashford. Boom.

NM: Ouch. He was coming up soon for me, right after Fergus Suter. Turnabout is fair play.

JPW: Finally, I take one of your players. Finally!

NM: I’m going next with a man who is only here this late because you couldn’t take him due to Mane being on your roster. A man who Bob Bradley turned into a star: Mr. Mohamed Salah.

JPW: Ah, yes, I’m surprised Salah has taken this long to be picked. His quality is undoubted. The Egyptian King. 

NM: It was a loophole.

JPW: I’m going with James Maddison from Leicester City to bolster my midfield creativity.

NM: Next pick gives me another Merseyside menace: Richarlison. Wait! Oh it’s too late…

JPW: Oh, wow. Dramaaaa!
NM: I’m shaking my head. This limits me to three at the back, and one is the challenged TAA. Plus, we’ve got a live shot of Sergio Aguero in the green room, baffled. Sorry, Kun.

JPW: I’m going with Everton for my next pick. Lucas Digne! The Frenchman has a wand of a left foot and gives my team some much-needed balance

Surely you will take Sergio next. He is being pictured on his phone

NM: I cannot! I only have two backs. It’s all come apart for Team Mendola. The fan base is revolting as we hand in our card for Antonio Rudiger

JPW: Wowza. Decent pick. But I can hear the jeering from your fans from here…

NM: TAA, Laporte, and Rudiger. We had better score a lot. 

JPW: Okay, well, for my super sub pick I was going to take USMNT hero Christian Pulisic (because Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t available).

But I have an ace up my sleeve seeing as you left Sergio Aguero out. How can you not have him as your super sub when you need a goal? Come on Sergio, lad, complete my squad!

NM: I’m basically the New York Jets.

Okay. I would take Pulisic, too, but I must make amends for my XI and select young Bukayo Saka. Gives me a flair player for either the midfield or left back.

JPW: To finish up, I’m picking St James’ Park as my home ground! 52,000 passionate Newcastle fans behind my squad is just unbeatable. The Geordie faithful will support my team no matter what!

NM: YOU DOG. My No. 1 ground. Hmmmm.

I will take the Theater of Dreams, Old Trafford. Anfield seems too easy a selection here. Special nod to Selhurst Park for the “Glad All Over” walk-out.

JPW: Now this is over, let the fans decide who won this draft! This has got me in the mood to watch every single pick from every single round in the NFL draft and scrutinize it heavily and make sweeping judgments galore. Just the way we all like it!

NM: Cheers Joe. And cheers to the return of these players to the pitch sooner rather than later.