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Building An NFL Expansion Team, Part II: The Expansion Draft

Now that the Toronto Wolves are established with Chip Kelly and Troy Aikman running things, our series “Building An NFL Expansion Team” continues today with Part II: The Expansion Draft.




First, we need rules; like the 2002 NFL expansion draft, each existing NFL team must list five players that can be selected, but a) they cannot be a kicker/punter, b) cannot be entering free agency after the season, and c) cannot be coming off injured reserve from the previous year.


Also, the list may only include one player with more than ten years of NFL experience. Once a player is selected from an existing team, they may remove one of the remaining players from the list. And if two players from the same team are selected, the remaining players are allowed to be removed (but don’t need to be).


For the Wolves, we will need to either draft 30 players or $67.4 million worth of contracts (38% of the 2018 salary cap).


Available Players


Obviously, these won’t be 100% accurate in regards to what each NFL team would really do if there were an expansion draft, but the player pool that meets all criteria is pretty limited, so it should be close. This process would have been done before the 2018 NFL Draft and free agency, so this is based on returning players from last year’s 53-man rosters.


Arizona Cardinals

LB Josh Bynes

S Rudy Ford

OT Will Holden

G Mike Iupati

CB Brandon Williams


Atlanta Falcons

DT Jack Crawford

CB Demontae Kazee

RB Terrance Magee

DE Brooks Reed

TE Eric Saubert


Baltimore Ravens

ILB Bam Bradley

S Chuck Clark

CB Jaylen Hill

DE Bronson Kaufusi

DT Patrick Ricard


Buffalo Bills

DE Rickey Hatley

WR Andre Holmes

DE Shaq Lawson

RB Marcus Murphy

MLB Tanner Vallejo


Carolina Panthers

FB Alex Armah

S Demetrius Cox

OT Matt Kalil

LS J.J. Jansen

CB Captain Munnerlyn


Chicago Bears

S Deon Bush

S Deiondre’ Hall

RB Taquan Mizzell

TE Dion Sims

WR Kevin White


Cincinnati Bengals

TE Cethan Carter

WR Cody Core

CB KeiVarae Russell

G Christian Westerman

RB Brandon Wilson


Cleveland Browns

DT Caleb Brantley

RB Matt Dayes

LS Charley Hughlett

QB Cody Kessler

WR Ricardo Louis


Dallas Cowboys

WR Dez Bryant

WR Noah Brown

TE Blake Jarwin

WR Lance Lenoir

DE Charles Tapper


Denver Broncos

S Jamal Carter

RB De’Angelo Henderson

FB Andy Janovich

WR Isaiah McKenzie

OT Menelik Watson


Detroit Lions

WR Jace Billingsley

WR Andy Jones

S Miles Killebrew

DT Jeremiah Ledbetter

RB Dwayne Washington


Green Bay Packers

WR Trevor Davis

RB Devante Mays

OT Kyle Murphy

WR Jordy Nelson

CB Lenzy Pipkins


Houston Texans

G Kyle Fuller

ILB LaTroy Lewis

FB Jay Prosch

G Chad Slade

WR Chris Thompson


Indianapolis Colts

TE Darrell Daniels

CB Kenny Moore

DT Grover Stewart

LB Anthony Walker

CB D.J. White


Jacksonville Jaguars

DT Eli Ankou

LB Blair Brown

DT Marcell Dareus

CB Jalen Myrick

MLB Donald Payne


Kansas City Chiefs

ILB Ukeme Eligwe

OT Cameron Erving

CB Eric Murray

WR Demarcus Robinson

LS James Winchester


Los Angeles Chargers

TE Sean Culkin

CB Michael Davis

S Rayshawn Jenkins

OT Sam Tevi

FB Derek Watt


Los Angeles Rams

C Austin Blythe

S Marqui Christian

RB Justin Davis

DT Tanzel Smart

WR Mike Thomas


Miami Dolphins

LB Chase Allen

CB Torry McTyer

S Maurice Smith

DT Ndamukong Suh

DT Vincent Taylor


Minnesota Vikings

DE Tashawn Bower

WR Stacy Coley

OT Aviante Collins

DE Stephen Weatherly

LB Eric Wilson


New England Patriots

TE Dwayne Allen

OT Cole Croston

G Ted Karras

LB Harvey Langi

DE Deatrich Wise


New Orleans Saints

S Vonn Bell

RB Trey Edmunds

WR Ted Ginn

LB A.J. Klein

DT Al-Quadin Muhammad


New York Giants

TE Jerell Adams

TE Rhett Ellison

DE Avery Moss

MLB Calvin Munson

OT Chad Wheeler


New York Jets

CB Justin Burris

CB Jeremy Clark

LS Thomas Hennessy

CB Derrick Jones

WR Charone Peake


Oakland Raiders

WR Michael Crabtree

DT Treyvon Hester

S Shalom Luani

OT David Sharpe

OT Jylan Ware


Philadelphia Eagles

WR Shelton Gibson

LB Kamu Grugier-Hill

DT Elijah Qualls

G Isaac Seumalo

RB Wendell Smallwood


Pittsburgh Steelers

CB Brian Allen

OLB Bud Dupree

CB Mike Hilton

ILB Tyler Matakevich

TE Vance McDonald


San Francisco 49ers

WR Victor Bolden

DT D.J. Jones

LB Elijah Lee

OT Erik Magnuson

LB Pita Taumoepenu


Seattle Seahawks

DE Michael Bennett

WR Amara Darboh

G Jordan Roos

S Tedric Thompson

TE Nick Vannett


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TE Antony Auclair

OT Caleb Benenoch

LB Devante Bond

DE William Gholston

WR DeSean Jackson


Tennessee Titans

ILB Daren Bates

OLB Josh Carraway

OLB Kevin Dodd

CB LeShaun Sims

OLB Aaron Wallace


Washington Redskins

G Tyler Catalina

WR Robert Davis

ILB Josh Harvey-Clemons

CB Joshua Holsey

LS Nick Sundberg


The Expansion Draft


Now, I’ll go through the picks and give a description for why each player was drafted. If you didn’t remember from Part I, Chip Kelly is our head coach and Dick LeBeau is our defensive coordinator, so we will have a spread offense and a 3-4 defense. [Note: 2018 cap hit from original team (if they were released/traded) is in parenthesis]


Pick 1: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers ($12,500,000)

This is an easy pick to start off the team. I think Green Bay will quickly regret getting rid of Jordy, who has been drawing rave reviews with the Raiders.


Pick 2: Cody Kessler, QB, Browns ($758,098)

Another easy pick here, as I have always been a fan of Cody Kessler, and he’s the only quarterback available in the expansion draft. At worst, the former third-round pick will be a high-end backup.


Pick 3: Rhett Ellison, TE, Giants ($3,750,000)

Rhett Ellison will make an immediate impact in Chip Kelly’s offense as one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. I thought about getting former San Francisco tight end Vance McDonald instead, but the Steelers pulled him after this next pick.


Pick 4: Mike Hilton, CB, Steelers ($555,000)

Pittsburgh easily had the best collection of players on the list, and it was a difficult task choosing the five players. Our new franchise benefits from that by getting an emerging slot corner in Mike Hilton.


Pick 5: Anthony Walker, ILB, Colts ($621,353)

The Colts would love to keep Anthony Walker around, but like the Steelers, they needed to make some tough choices. The 2017 fourth-rounder will start at inside linebacker.


Pick 6: Ted Ginn, WR, Saints ($4,500,000)

New Orleans also had to expose some solid players, and Ted Ginn will operate as a deep threat in Kelly’s attack.


Pick 7: Kevin Dodd, OLB, Titans ($1,489,160)

Kevin Dodd was recently released by the Titans, but I would have drafted him to see if we can unlock his potential. The former Clemson product was the No. 33 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.


Pick 8: Brandon Williams, CB, Cardinals ($824,173)

Another former Day 2 pick that hasn’t reached his potential, I think Brandon Williams could thrive on the outside of Dick LeBeau’s defense.


Pick 9: Tyler Matakevich, ILB, Steelers ($645,762)

Again, the Steelers get another key player swiped away, as Tyler Matakevich will compliment Anthony Walker at inside linebacker and provide elite value on special teams.


Pick 10: Kevin White, WR, Bears ($5,270,060)

Why not try to take advantage of a healthy Kevin White? The former No. 7 overall pick has flashed when he’s been on the field.


Pick 11: Dwayne Allen, TE, Patriots ($5,000,000)

There aren’t any big-time receiving threats available to pair with Rhett Ellison, but Dwayne Allen has been a productive, all-around player since entering the league.


Pick 12: Dwayne Washington, RB, Lions ($648,941)

We will probably have to target the running back position aggressively in free agency and/or the draft, but Dwayne Washington can bring value on special teams as the third or fourth guy.


Pick 13: Justin Davis, RB, Rams ($560,000)

Justin Davis could be a change-of-pace option in the backfield, as he showed potential as a slasher last preseason with nine carries for 70 yards against the Cowboys.


Pick 14: Brooks Reed, OLB, Falcons ($3,940,000)

The veteran should bring plenty of effort and excellent depth as both a pass rusher and special teamer.


Pick 15: Menelik Watson, OT, Broncos ($7,177,083)

It’s time to start building the offensive line as best we can. Menelik Watson carries a big cap hit, but we can certainly afford it. He should be the starter at right tackle.


Pick 16: Elijah Qualls, DT, Eagles ($586,801)

We need to get pieces on the defensive line, too, and Elijah Qualls should be able to start at either defensive end or nose tackle for an expansion team.


Pick 17: Amara Darboh, WR, Seahawks ($754,572)

Former Michigan standout Amar Darboh provides special teams value and insurance in the case of a Kevin White injury.


Pick 18: Matt Kalil, OT, Panthers ($6,900,000)

Matt Kalil wasn’t great last year for Carolina—which is why he was made available—but we can take his cap hit and hopefully see a career resurgence in a new city.


Pick 19: Cameron Erving, OT, Chiefs ($1,720,781)

I’m not sure what position would be best for Cameron Erving, but he can fight for a role all along the offensive line, as spots will be up for grabs.


Pick 20: Christian Westerman, G, Bengals ($687,924)

Despite starting just two games so far with the Bengals, I think 2016 fifth-round pick Christian Westerman could eventually turn into a solid player on the interior.


Pick 21: Deon Bush, S, Bears ($761,554)

Deon Bush didn’t get many defensive snaps with Chicago in 2017, but he started six games as a rookie and is the best option on the back end for us in the expansion draft.


Pick 22: Tyler Catalina, G, Redskins ($555,000)

Back to the offensive line, Tyler Catalina went undrafted last year, but he ended up starting two games for Washington. The Massachusetts native should be ready for the cold weather in Toronto.


Pick 23: Austin Blythe, C, Rams ($630,000)

Rounding out the offensive line (current starters are listed below), Austin Blythe brings the toughness we want as a four-year starter at Iowa.


Pick 24: Jeremy Clark, CB, Jets ($592,103)

Cornerback will be a target in free agency or the NFL Draft, as we need someone to start alongside Mike Hilton and Brandon Williams. However, Jeremy Clark could be an underrated addition after missing most of his rookie year with a torn ACL suffered in college.


Pick 25: Erik Magnuson, OT, 49ers ($556,333)

Erik Magnuson should provide quality depth at tackle or guard as a former Big Ten offensive lineman in a six-foot-six frame.


Pick 26: Kamu Grugier-Hill, ILB, Eagles ($630,000)

The Eagles probably would pull Isaac Seumalo after we took Elijah Qualls earlier, but core special teamer Kamu Grugier-Hill is worth drafting as the second player from the defending champs.


Pick 27: Chuck Clark, S, Ravens ($598,705)

In real life, Chuck Clark could have a bigger role with the Ravens in 2018, but we take him to pair with Deon Bush at safety.


Pick 28: William Gholston, DE, Buccaneers ($6,500,000)

Finally, we decide to take a chance on William Gholston to get us to $69,713,403 million for the cap. The veteran is coming off a sub-par season in his first year of a five-year extension, but if kicking him inside to defensive end in our 3-4 scheme doesn’t work out, we can move on from him without a cap penalty.



Roster (So Far)


We will still get a shot at free agents and, of course, the 2018 rookie class in the NFL Draft, but this is how the foundation of the roster looks for the Toronto Wolves right now.



QB: Cody Kessler

RB: Dwayne Washington // Justin Davis

WR: Jordy Nelson

WR: Ted Ginn

WR: Kevin White // Amara Darboh

TE: Rhett Ellison // Dwayne Allen

LT: Matt Kalil // Cameron Erving

LG: Christian Westerman

C: Austin Blythe

RG: Tyler Catalina

RT: Menelik Watson // Erik Magnuson



DE: William Gholston

DT: Elijah Qualls

OLB: Kevin Dodd

ILB: Anthony Walker // Kamu Grugier-Hill

ILB: Tyler Matakevich

OLB: Brooks Reed

CB: Brandon Williams

CB: Jeremy Clark

CB: Mike Hilton

S: Deon Bush

S: Chuck Clark


Be sure to return tomorrow for Part III to see what the Toronto Wolves do in free agency.


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