Fantasy come true: Rice, Sanders fill out Pro Bowl rosters

Andrew Luck, the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, was also the first pick in Wednesday's fantasy-style Pro Bowl draft.

Marco Garcia/Mario Garcia


NFL great Deion Sanders took quarterback Andrew Luck and Cam Newton with his first skill position picks in the Pro Bowl draft Wednesday, moving for passers early before focusing on defense in building a team for one win.

Jerry Rice took New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham then Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy with his first two picks, giving active player captain Drew Brees his top target early to go along with two Saints offensive linemen picked Tuesday.

”I wouldn’t rather be with anybody else, obviously,” Graham told reporters after being picked. All five Saints in the Pro Bowl ended up on Rice’s team.

The picks kicked off the three-hour process of divvying up 60 players for the Sunday all-star game. The draft played out on a beachside estate used for weddings and luaus on Oahu’s west side, adjacent to the plush Ko Olina resort where the players are staying for the week with their families.

Team Rice Roster | Coach: Ron Rivera, Panthers
Offense Defense Special teams
QB Drew Brees, Saints
Philip Rivers, Chargers
Alex Smith, Chiefs
DE Robert Quinn, Rams
Cameron Jordan, Saints
Cameron Wake, Dolphins
ST Justin Bethel, Cardinals
RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
Matt Forte, Bears
Mike Tolbert, Panthers (FB)
DT Jason Hatcher, Cowboys
Marcell Dareus, Bills
Kyle Williams, Bills
PR Dexter McCluster, Chiefs
WR Josh Gordon, Browns
Alshon Jeffery, Bears
Brandon Marshall, Bears
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
OLB Justin Houston, Chiefs
Robert Mathis, Colts
John Abraham, Cardinals
K Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
TE Jimmy Graham, Saints
Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
ILB Vontaze Burfict, Bengals
Derrick Johnson, Chiefs
P Johnny Hekker, Rams
OT Joe Thomas, Browns
Tyron Smith, Cowboys
Jordan Gross, Panthers
CB Joe Haden, Browns
Brandon Flowers, Chiefs
Antonio Cromartie, Jets
Alterraun Verner, Titans
LS Matt Overton, Colts
OG Jahri Evans, Saints
Ben Grubbs, Saints
Evan Mathis, Eagles
S Eric Reid, 49ers
Jairus Byrd, Bills
Antrel Rolle, Giants
C Ryan Kalil, Panthers
Nick Mangold, Jets

About 1,000 fans attended the draft, which had cheerleaders, mascots, lei for each player and colored surfboards used as draft boards.

The game is being played in an ”unconferenced” format for the first time, straying from its usual AFC vs. NFC teams. Sanders and Rice picked captains and their first 11 players each on Tuesday.

The new format is meant to liven up the all-star game, which has been criticized by fans and even Commissioner Roger Goodell for the quality of play.

The draft embraces the popular hobby of fantasy football and put many players in the interesting situation of having to watch two of the NFL’s biggest personalities pass them up.

”It looks like I’m waiting,” Chicago wide receiver Brandon Marshall said after watching four receivers come off the board – including his teammate Alshon Jeffery. ”This is sad – real sad.”

Team Sanders Roster | Coach: Chuck Pagano, Colts
Offense Defense Special teams
QB Cam Netwon, Panthers
Andrew Luck, Colts
Nick Foles, Eagles
DE J.J. Watt, Texans
Mario Williams, Bills
Greg Hardy, Panthers
ST Matthew Slater, Patriots
RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Alfred Morris, Redskins
Eddie Lacy, Packers
Marcel Reece, Raiders
DT Dontari Poe, Chiefs
Ndamukong Suh, Lions
Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers
PR Cordarelle Patterson, Vikings
WR A.J. Green, Bengals
Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Antonio Brown, Steelers
Desean Jackson, Eagles
OLB Tamba Hali, Chiefs
Terrell Suggs, Ravens
Brian Orakpo, Redskins
K Justin Tucker, Ravens
TE Jordan Cameron, Browns
Jason Witten, Cowboys
ILB Luke Kuechly, Panthers
Paul Posluszny, Jaguars
P Brandon Fields, Dolphins
OT Branden Albert, Chiefs
Trent Williams, Redskins
Duane Brown, Texans
CB Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
Darrelle Revis, Buccaneers
Brent Grimes, Dolphins
Tim Jennings, Bears
LS J.J. Jansen, Panthers
OG Logan Mankins, Patriots
Marshal Yanda, Ravens
Kyle Long, Bears
S Eric Berry, Chiefs
Eric Weddle, Chargers
T.J. Ward, Browns
C Mike Pouncey, Dolphins
Alex Mack, Browns

Sanders retorted: ”Somebody get him some aspirin.”


Eric Weddle, a San Diego safety who was the third safety picked, said he didn’t mind having to wait in a lounge area with the other players while Sanders and Rice took 2 minutes each to make picks, with breaks for commercials in the live telecast.

”It doesn’t really matter – just chilling 17 hours in here right now,” Weddle said. ”When it comes to Sunday, I’ll be on the field in the fourth quarter and ready to wreck shop.”

Defensive end Mario Williams became the first player to be assigned to a team, which happened automatically when a player was the last at his position available. The player would then automatically go to the team with the fewest at that position.

”Just be careful where you throw the ball,” Williams said afterward toward Brees.

Williams said things played out largely how he anticipated, with teammates picking one another and Sanders playing mind games.

Other players assigned included Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle and New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski to Rice. Sanders was assigned tight ends Jordan Cameron of Cleveland and Jason Witten of Dallas, along with Jacksonville linebacker Paul Posluszny.

”There’s been some questionable picks,” Posluszny said.


Quarterbacks Nick Foles and Alex Smith were the last players taken, with Sanders picking Foles and Smith being assigned to Sanders nine years after being the top pick overall in the NFL draft.

Rice then forced a trade on Sanders, as allowed under the rules, taking Sanders’ sixth-round pick of Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis, sending back Brian Orakpo.

Rice had said since being named captain that he wanted Mathis on his team, while Mathis and Sanders have traded jabs on Twitter after Sanders asserted he only wanted young players on his team.

Sanders picked wideouts Dez Bryant and A.J. Green, while Rice chose Josh Gordon along with Jeffery.

Luck playing for Team Sanders puts him on the same team led by his head coach in Indianapolis, Chuck Pagano. Luck said that will help him as players get accustomed to Pagano’s style.

Beyond McCoy going second to Rice on Wednesday and Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles being a captain for Sanders, neither manager took a running back early, preferring to pick defenders and receivers. Rice later took DeMarco Murray and Matt Forte, while Sanders took Eddie Lacy and was assigned Washington’s Alfred Morris.