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MAC Attack: The conference's best NFL players at each position

There’s little doubt a team of Mid-American Conference all stars would have a chance to win the Super Bowl, thanks to the presence of superstars Ben Roethlisberger and Khalil Mack.

Of course, you could say that for most college conferences.

Here’s a rundown on the current best NFL players from the MAC at each position.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: QB
School: Miami Ohio
Drafted: First round 2004
NFL noteworthy: Two-time Super Bowl winner and four-time Pro Bowler has taken Steelers to playoffs eight times in 12 years. Future Hall-of-Famer already is 13th all-time in passing yards and 14th in TD passes.


Ben Roethlisberger during his days as a RedHawk. (Getty Images)

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: WR
School: Central Michigan
Drafted: Sixth round in 2010
NFL noteworthy: Led the NFL in receptions each of the past two seasons and made first-team All-Pro each of the past two years. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler and the game-breaking weapon in Pittsburgh’s passing attack.

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 3: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers makes a touchdown catch in front of Tashaun Gipson #39 of the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Antonio Brown lasted until the sixth round of the 2010 draft coming out of Central Michigan. (Getty Images)

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Position: WR
School: Kent State
Drafted: Seventh round in 2009.
NFL noteworthy: Has caught 258 passes from Tom Brady over the past three years and starred in the Pats’ Super Bowl win two years ago, catching the winning TD pass. He’s also a standout punt returner. Played QB at Kent.

Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns
Position: WR
School: Toledo
Drafted: Rookie free agent in 2008
NFL noteworthy: After winning two Grey Cups in Montreal, the 5-7 slot receiver established himself in the NFL. He led the Browns with 63 catches in 2014 then had 27 last year before concussions ended his season. He figures to be back in a key role with Cleveland this season.

Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks
Position: RB
School: Central Michigan
Drafted: Rookie free agent in 2015
NFL noteworthy: With the retirement of Marshawn Lynch, Rawls enters the season as the projected Seattle starter. He rushed for 830 yards as a rookie, including a 209-yard game against the 49ers. He edges out UB Bulls James Starks and Branden Oliver as most prominent MAC RB in the NFL.

SPORTS BASKETBALL --- Kent State's Antonio Gates (44) dribbles against St. Bonaventure at the Reilly Center in 2nd half action in Olean , N.Y. on 12/21/02. Photo by John Hickey

Kent State's Antonio Gates was a force on the basketball court before transitioning to football.  (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Position: TE
School: Kent State
Drafted: Rookie free agent in 2003.
NFL noteworthy: Former Kent basketball star who is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, an eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro. His 104 TD catches rank seventh all-time and second only to Tony Gonzalez among tight ends. He’s third among TEs in career catches behind Gonzalez and Jason Witten.

Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs
Positon: OT
School: Central Michigan
Drafted: First round in 2013
NFL noteworthy: The first overall pick in 2013, he has started three straight seasons for the Chiefs and is an anchor on the offensive line.

Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers
Position: OT
School: Central Michigan
Drafted: First round in 2008
NFL noteworthy: Nine-year NFL veteran has started all 130 games of his career and made two Pro Bowls.

T.J. Lang, Green Bay Packers
Position: OG
School: Eastern Michigan
Drafted: Fourth round in 2009
NFL noteworthy: Entering sixth year as starter for Packers and earned some All-Pro recognition two years ago.

Brandon Brooks, Philadelphia Eagles
Position: OG
School: Miami Ohio
Drafted: Third round in 2012
NFL noteworthy: After strong play the last three years as a Houston Texans starter, he cashed in on an $8 million-a-year deal with the Eagles. He’s tied for the second-highest paid guard in the NFL.

Kory Lichtensteiger, Washington Redskins
Position: OC
School: Bowling Green
Drafted: Fourth round in 2008
NFL noteworthy: Has started the last six years for Washington, which is expected to have a strong O-line in 2016.

UB's Khalil Mack hits Rhode Island QB Steve Probst during the first half of the game at UB stadium in Amherst Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010.{Mark Mulville/Buffalo News}

Khalil Mack punished quarterbacks, in this case Rhode Island's Steve Probst, throughout his career at UB. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
Position: DE
School: Buffalo
Drafted: First round in 2014
NFL noteworthy: UB’s greatest player ranked second in the NFL in sacks with 15 last season and made All-Pro at both DE and OLB. He played 467 snaps at DE and 439 at OLB.

Jason Jones, Miami Dolphins
Position: DE
School: Eastern Michigan
Drafted: Second round in 2008
NFL noteworthy: Has 65 starts and 28 sacks in eight years. After starting past two years for Detroit, he signed as a backup end with the Dolphins.

Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets
Position: DT
School: Temple
Drafted: First round in 2011
NFL noteworthy: Dominant big man in Jets’ 3-4 defense has made one Pro Bowl and two second-team All-Pro picks in his five seasons. (Temple was in the MAC from 2007 to 2012.)

Terrance Knighton, New England Patriots
Position: DT
School: Temple
Drafted: Third round in 2009
NFL noteworthy: Nicknamed “Pot Roast,” the 355-pound nose tackle enters his eighth season as an NFL starter. He excelled for Denver in 2014, disappointed with Washington in 2015 and signed a one-year “prove-it” deal New England in April. He projects to start for the Pats.

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 21: Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs is tackled by James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Heinz Field on December 21, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

James Harrison went from undrafted at Kent State to a force in the NFL. (Getty Images)

James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: OLB
School: Kent State
Drafted: Rookie free agent in 2002
NFL noteworthy: Five-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champ enters 14th NFL season as a projected situational edge rusher for the Steelers. He has 76.5 career sacks and had 16 in 2008, when he was NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Junior Galette, Washington Redskins
Position: OLB
School: Temple
Drafted: Rookie free agent in 2009
NFL noteworthy: Posted 22 sacks over two seasons as a starter for the Saints in 2013 and 2014. Sat out last year with a torn Achilles tendon. Projects as a starter for Washington this season.

Frank Zombo, Kansas City Chiefs
Position: ILB
School: Central Michigan
Drafted: Rookie free agent in 2009
NFL noteworthy: It’s slim pickings at inside linebackers from the MAC. Zombo enters his seventh NFL season and just signed a three-year contract to return as a Chiefs backup. Akron’s Jatavis Brown, drafted in the fifth round by San Diego, this year, could develop into a starter.

Rob Winner Ð Northern Illinois defensive back Jimmie Ward gets a piece of the ball during a punt by Buffalo kicker Jacob Schum during the second quarter of their game in DeKalb, Ill. on Saturday October 16, 2010.

Northern Illinois defensive back Jimmie Ward gets a piece of Jacob Schum's punt during a 2010 game against UB (Getty Images).

Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers
Position: CB
School: Northern Illinois
Drafted: First round in 2014
NFL noteworthy: Although Ward starred mostly at strong safety at Northern Illinois, he was targeted as a nickel corner by the Niners. Ward played well in eight starts the second half of last season and projects to start this season.

Quinten Rollins, Green Bay Packers
Position: CB
School: Miami Ohio
Drafted: Second round in 2015
NFL noteworthy: After a four-year career as a point guard for Miami Ohio, Rollins switched to football for his last year of college eligibility and was the MAC’s defensive player of the year in 2014. He started four games as a rookie for the Packers last year and shows great promise.

Barry Church, Dallas Cowboys
Position: SS
School: Toledo
Drafted: Rookie free agent in 2010
NFL noteworthy: Enters his fourth season as starting strong safety for the Cowboys. He’s a team captain.

Mike Mitchell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: FS
School: Ohio
Drafted: Second round in 2009
NFL noteworthy: Enters third season as starting free safety for the Steelers after four years with Oakland and one with Carolina.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 13: Brett Kern #6 of the Tennessee Titans punts against the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Grand Island's Brett Kern made it as an undrafted free agent after kicking for Toledo. (Getty Images)

Brett Kern, Tennessee Titans
Position: P
School: Toledo
Drafted: Rookie free agent in 2008
NFL noteworthy: The Grand Island native enters his eighth season as the Titans’ punter. He had a superb year in 2015, earning second-team All-Pro honors from Pro Football Focus. He forced the second-most fair catches in the NFL (23) and had the fourth-most punts downed inside the 20 (35).

Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos
Position: PK
School: Temple
Drafted: Rookie free agent in 2013
NFL noteworthy: Established himself in his second season with Denver last year, ranking 10th in the NFL in points scored for the Super Bowl champs. He was 30 of 35 on field-goal tries.

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More from our college football preview:

Why the MAC works as a football conference -- and for UB

How Leipold is molding UB for quick and lasting success

UB Season Preview: Tyree Jackson & young recruits put pizzazz into Bulls program

Sizing up UB's schedule: Who to watch on the other sideline & which team should win

UB position-by-position preview (all installments linked here)

UB Preview: Tyree Jackson brings the excitement to Bulls offense

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