How All-AAPI Team Would Compete In Full NFL Season

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NESN celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month – honoring the impact, influence, and achievements of the Asian community in sports.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander community in the NFL continues to grow, but could those players make a competent team?

ESPN’s Mina Kimes and Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo drafted an All-AAPI team during the 2023 season. The exercise was done after retired running back Rashard Mendenhall started discourse about Black and White players. Retired linebacker and “Bussin’ With The Boys” co-host Will Compton drafted All-White and All-Black teams for everyone to debate how well each would do.

Before we get into how competitive the All-AAPI team would be, let’s take a look at what we’re working with.

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The arguable omissions would have been Seahawks running back Zach Charbonnet over Jaylen Warren, which was surprising since Kimes is a Seattle fan. And you could add Brevin Jordan to the tight end room.

Let’s get one debate out of the way, the All-AAPI team probably gets smoked by either the All-White or All-Black team. It’s tough to accept, but it’s a reality even Koo admitted.

This team is just too weak at the most important positions in football. Puka Nacua is a good wide receiver who has the potential to be a great one. After that, it’s a bleak pass-catching corps. Corner also is a weak spot for this team. Kimes chose Jordan Poyer since he previously played corner in high school and college, but while Kyle Hamilton can be a shutdown guy in the slot, this team is getting beat on the outside.

Talanoa Hufanga is an average pass coverage guy who hits very hard, which goes well with Taylor Rapp. It highlights the true strength of this team: The trenches.

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The offensive line is very tackle heavy, but we could theoretically make it work for Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa. The defensive front is fearsome. New England Patriots fans are only just seeing how great Marte Mapu and Jahlani Tavai can be.

But the question we’ll try to figure out is how many wins can this Marcus Freeman-led team earn. In this scenario, let’s say an expansion draft is held and general manager Chris Blanco specifically took AAPI players. So we’re taking key players away from other teams, and we’ll throw this team in the NFC West; A future London team can be in the AFC.

Again, we think this team barely touches .500. A seven-win season would be a miracle for this team. We’re probably starting Murray and going with a run-heavy approach riding the backs of Josh Jacobs and Tyler Allgeier. We’ve got some playmakers on defense, so they could steal us a game or two. Koo is an excellent and clutch kicker, so if we keep games close, he gives us a chance.

The NFL is a weekly affair so the All-AAPI team could catch someone off-guard. If we have a healthy JuJu Smith-Schuster, you can talk yourself into a speedy passing game.

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Does the success of an All-AAPI team diminish the impact of the community on the NFL? No. These athletes deserve celebration because there might be a day in the future when an All-AAPI team becomes one that is unbeatable.

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