Thursday, October 17, 2013

Illinois A11FL team will have plenty of regional talent to draw from


Today is the latest in a series of stories about potential A11 Football League players, by state, using a regional approach. The players are taken from a list of free agents from thesidelineview.com on October 7, and doesn’t reflect any changes in status that may have occurred since then.

It is easy to get stuck in the minutia of putting together a new professional football league – where is the money going to come from, where is the television contract going to come from, where will the teams be, etc.

All of that is for the leaders of the A11 Football League to continue to work on. The fun part is thinking ahead – who might be the players who will fill the rosters of the eight A11FL teams come the spring of 2015? We don’t know who will be available when players begin to be acquired, but we know who’s available now.

So let’s take a look at some players an Illinois-based A11FL team might want to pick up:

As of now, the best option for Illinois at quarterback is former Northwestern and Philadelphia Eagle Mike Kafka – definitely a dual run-pass threat. Looking next door at Indiana, another intriguing option is Canadian Football League pivot Joey Elliott (Purdue).

At age 31 now – and age 33 when the first A11FL season starts – Northern Illinois alum Michael Turner may not have enough tread left on the tires (1,639 carries in nine National Football League seasons). A much younger nearby option would be ex-Notre Dame and Chicago Bears back Armando Allen.

The top Illinois-based wide receiver available is NFL veteran Laurent Robinson (Illinois State), who has caught 112 passes the last three seasons but has had recent concussion issues. Looking to its northern neighbor, Illinois could find a tight end in former New York Giant Travis Beckum (Wisconsin), who caught 26 passes from 2009-11.

The Illinois team also could look on the other side of the border to the Iowa Hawkeyes for linebacker A.J. Edds, who played 11 games with Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots in 2011, and ex-Northern Iowa standout linebacker L.J. Fort, who played all 16 games with the Cleveland Browns in 2012. In the secondary, Illinois could reach to South Bend, Indiana, for ex-Notre Dame and Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski.

On special teams, the Illinois squad can look across the border to bring in former Ball State punter Reggie Hodges, who spent five seasons in the NFL with five different teams.

There will be plenty of high-quality talent for every A11FL team to choose from when the time comes. With a bevy of talent in the surrounding states, as well as its own, the an Illinois team would have a shot at success early.

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