My favorite day of the entire calendar year is tomorrow. The first round of the NFL draft. Don’t get me wrong, the draft is a weekend long excursion for me. Every year, on the fringe on April and May, I strap myself to the couch for the duration of draft weekend. If I’m not on the couch and the draft’s not on the television, you’d better believe I’m burning data and using my draft app to keep me up to date round the clock.
Despite my adoration of the draft process, I’m not one of those nerds that knows every player. Seriously. I promise. I do have somewhat of a life. Alright, so I know a bunch of them, but I don’t live in my mom’s basement, and I’m not even 25 yet so I definitely don’t fit the draft nerd description. I know of prospects because I loosely follow high school recruiting, and I watch College Gameday more than any healthy, red-blooded American should — but that’s mostly because of Sam Ponder.
Anyway, I definitely wanted to do some draft themed pieces for the blog, but I didn’t want to front like I was MK3* or some shit like that, so I decided to put together a hypothetical draft of movie football players. Using the 2015 draft order, along which each team’s particular needs, I have devised a scenario for all 32 first round picks, and a list of best available, first round fringe prospects.
In order to bring somewhat of an order to the film draft process, I had to implement a few key rules to provide structure and authenticity. The rules are broad, all-encomapasing precedents implemented to ensure a genuine draft process. They are as follows:
The 2015 NFL Football Film Draft Rules –
1. Each player selected must be from a movie. (i.e. television show players are not included)
I struggled with this rule — I really did. My deep rooted affinity for Blue Mountain State and that ESPN series, Playmakers, extends past the silver screen. I binge watched (and loved) both of those shows. One drunk in my dorm room, and the other one in the car on the way to OBX, respectively. Never really got into Friday Night Lights… I couldn’t stand continuously admitting to myself that Tim Riggins was smashing Minka Kelly and I wasn’t. And besides, Derek Luke gave me the only Friday Night Lights I’ll ever need to watch. Rule 1 is the framework from which the draft derives its talent pool. Respect it’s authority.
2. Injuries, aside from death (Sorry, Ricky), are no obstacle.
Quick, think of your favorite football movie. Chances are there was at least one gruesome ass injury in that movie; I’d be willing to bet on it. I mean seriously, would Friday Night Lights be the movie that it is if Boobie didn’t break down to his uncle like a baby-back-bitch? Prolly not. That’s what you’re going to get when you merge sports, America’s terrible fascination of violence, and Hollywood. There’s gotta be more drama than just 4th and 1 at the goal line at the end of the game, and that’s what those injuries are for. Luther Lavay’s broken neck… Bobby Boucher eating some dude’s face off… Those are the images that stick in your head from football movies. With that in mind, it’d be preposterous to withhold particular players from the film draft pool because of some fictitious injury. Therefore, with the help of the Madden gods I have turned injuries to “off,” and all players selected in the film draft, pending a heart beat, will be granted football immortality. Rule 2 allows the film draft to include arguably some of the best talent a movie ticket can buy. Respect it’s authority.
3. Off-field Issues ain’t no issues.
Look no further than the 2014-2015 NFL season for a blueprint on how not to handle off-field violations. Between the storylines of Ray Rice, Josh Gordon, Greg Hardy, and numerous others, I literally boycotted ESPN for a week. No, I do not know the ins and outs of every single off-field issue from this past season, but I will say that if you want to set a precedent, you need to start enforcing the rules with more consistency. In terms of the film draft, though, who gives a shit, right? Most of these guys don’t actually exist in real life, and besides, the league turns the other cheek to guys with spotted pasts time and time again. Why? We make exceptions for talent, that’s why. Rule 3 solidifies the film draft’s authenticity to NFL culture. Respect it’s authority.
And with that, the Tampa Bay Bucs are on the clock . . .
1. Tampa Bay Bucs – Willie Beamen – QB – Any Given Sunday (1999)
Steamin’ Willie Beamen! What a way to start the night. Upon hearing his name being called and a short congratulatory phone call from Bucs head man Lovie Smith, Willie makes his way to the stage admist thunderous applause. The most dynamic athlete at the quarterback position since Michael Vick entered the league with Atlanta in 2000, Beamen is finally granted the keys to his own offense. Tampa’s got a number of holes to fill across their roster, but the addition of Beamen solidifies their signal calling situation for years to come. Originally a cornerback, Willie didn’t get his shot at becoming a QB until injuries forced him into coach Tony D’Amato’s starting lineup. And while Beamen appears to be a trascendent talent in terms of his play and media appeal, he displays a few character issues that forced some teams to take him off their draft boards entirely.
From calling his own plays to calling out teammates, Beamen hasn’t taken to the limelight too kindly during his reign as the guy. Nevertheless, the entire Tampa organization feels as though they have struck gold with Beamen, and they’ll be right if the enigmatic QB can keep the off-field issues straight. The dual-threat won’t have too much competition unseating Mike Glennon as the team’s starter, and it will be imperative that Beamen strike a chord with veteran Vincent Jackson, as well as second year players Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Willie might have to run for his life with the Bucs’ current offensive line situation, but chances are they will address that need in the second round. For now, Lovie and his staff are just hoping Willie will keep the ladies creamin’ and the fans screamin’.
Arguably the most talented player in the draft, Callahan has been deemed by numerous scouts to be the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck entered the league a few years back. The Wisconsin product has got the size and arm strength necessary to make an immediate impact on whatever team he ends up with, so much so that quarterback guru and second year Tennessee head man Ken Whisenhunt won’t be able to resist. Selfie god Zach Mettenberger put forth a valiant effort last season during the work he got as the Titans’ signal caller, but he’ll be pitted against Callahan this offseason, and the two will battle to see who will lead a Tennessee team that ranked 29th last year in total offense.
Second year running back Bishop Sankey will be looked upon to shoulder a greater load this coming season, but Whisenhunt will place a good deal of responsibility on Callahan’s shoulders as well. Whisenhunt’s offense emphasizes pre-snap reads followed by quick, concise decisions in the pocket, something Callahan will have to pick up quickly if he wants to start the season as Tennessee’s number one. Rumors have circulated that one of his flaws is his dedication to the playbook, so it will be interesting to see how he meshes in the early going. The former Badger also has a tendency to get antsy in the pocket when under pressure, therefore it’s a must that the Titans address the offensive tackle position later in the draft.
Draft fervor reached a fever pitch after Boucher’s lone season at South Central Louisiana State, a year capped off by a bizarre, come-from-behind victory in the Bourbon Bowl. After initial reports that Boucher would return to school to receive his education, Boucher decided to enter his name into this year’s draft after receiving a top five grade for the draft advisory board. Though he has only one year of playing experience under his belt, analysts and front office personnel alike simply can’t deny the linebacker’s astounding game film. Boucher possesses the most impressive instincts of any prospect in this year’s draft, and Gus Bradley and the Jags are in desperate need of an edge rusher with Chris Clemons’ years numbered. Though he played middle backer for Coach Klein at SCLSU, Boucher’s elite pass rush ability will be utilized best at the 3-4 OLB position in the NFL.
Despite a mercurial personality and a historically low Wonderlic score, Boucher’s status as one of the film draft’s elite prospects is propelled by his dynamic motor and his innate ability to open up a can of whoop ass on opponents seemingly at will. The effort and passion Boucher exherts on the playing field is second to none, and his gifted pass-rush skills warrant this high of a draft selection. Bobby will settle nicely into Bradley’s Leo position for the Jags, similarly to how Bruce Irvin is utilized in Seattle’s current defensive scheme. Mama said things are looking up in Jacksonville.
The ten minutes Oakland spends on the clock in the first round are aruably my favorite ten minutes of the year. You never know what the grave yard of the west coast is planning out there in the Black Hole, but it seems as though this year they have made a sound choice with Mean Machine maven Deacon Moss. The Raiders flirted with various suitors with this pick, but ultimately they decided on Moss after mulling other possibilities like Air Bud and Shark Lavay. Moss will offer Derek Carr his first go-to threat on the outside, and the two will try attempt to kickstart an Oakland offense that struggled mightily last year.
A profound physical presence, Moss fits the prototypical Raiders persona, and with prototypical receiver size (6’2″ 207) to boot, the Bay Area has plenty to be excited about. Deac will be granted parole prior to Oakland’s rookie mini camp, at which time he’ll trade in his Allenville Penitentiary garb for the Raiders’ trademark black and silver. It will be an interesting storyline to follow throughout the season as to whether or not Moss can remain on the straight and narrow, but for the time being the Raiders will be happy with just having a weapon in their arsenal as viable as the Deacon. One of the quintessential high-risk high-reward candidates in the film draft, I can’t think of another player on the board that Al Davis would rather have.
Northern Virginia rejoices with this homecoming pick, as Bertier was a high school All-American during his time playing for Herman Boone’s spirited TC Williams bunch. Much like another Redskins top 5 pick, the Titans’ captain is a high character guy who’s career has been riddled by injury. Nevertheless, Bertier brings relentless run-stopping ability to the Skins defensive line, a unit that Washington also upgraded in Free Agency with the addition of Broncos NT Terrance Knighton. Bertier will have his hand in the dirt as a 3-4 DE for most of his snaps for new defensive coordinator Joe Barry, although he does showcase the ability to rush from the stand-up position.
With the hypothetical addition of Bertier, Washington fills the hole left by a former Skins first-rounder Brian Orakpo. 2014 Stanford second-rounder Trent Murphy offered admirable contributions after Orakpo’s season ended due to a torn pectoral, but bringing Bertier into the fold will provide Washington with the flexibility and depth necessary to keep up with the fast paced offenses of Philly and New York. Bertier’s recovery from his catastrophic injury will be a long road, but Jay Gruden and the rest of the Skins will be keeping their fingers crossed that Dr. James Andrews can work his magic one more time.
One of the GOATS of the football film QB class, “Footsteps” finds himself in an offense with two capable wide receivers in Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. First year head coach Todd Bowles brought on former Bills and Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey to be the offensive coordinator, and Gailey has got to be happy with his offense’s latest addition. We all know about Falco’s flop in the Sugar Bowl when he his Ohio State teammates were blown out by 45 points, but what about his fifteen minutes of fame in the league? Falco epitomized what it means to be a field general in his time with Jimmy McGinty and the Washington Sentinels, leading a severely overmatched B squad to some impressive wins.
He doesn’t have Bo Callahan’s size, or Willie Beamen’s speed, but Falco knows how to win football games. He’s gritty. He’s battle tested. He’s ready to play right away. The list of superlatives and checkmarks goes on and on about the former Buckeye simply because of the way he carries himself on and off the field. He’s a great leader, and he’s got a knack for making something out of nothing. He’ll be given the opportunity to overtake the Geno Smith
experiment debauchery, and odds are he will win the job handedly. New York could have also warranted the selection of ESU offensive tackle Bud Kaminski, but ultimately the quarterback position trumps all with this selection.
7. Chicago Bears – Trotter – WR – The Comebacks (2007)
Projecting draft trades violates sooooooo many rules, so lets pretend those “The Bears are ditching Jay Cutler for a shot at Bo Callahan” rumors never happened. With John Fox as the new head man in Chiraq, starting fresh at the quarterback position isn’t a farfetched idea, but Chicago has more immediate needs than the signal caller position, and moving Cutler’s mega contract isn’t an appetizing endeavor for any organization.
One of those needs is at the receiver position, especially with the departure of veteran star Brandon Marshall. With a myriad of options to choose from at the receiver spot, Trotter gets the nod over smaller prospects like Rod Tidwell and Charlie Tweeder. The Bears need another big body to line up across from Alshon Jeffrey, and who better than another pass catcher surrounded by red flags? No stranger to controversy, Trotter’s immaturity was undermined by his on-field production for Lambeau Fields’ Heartland State squad. He possesses the stereotypical receiver mentality, but if Fox and the rest of the Chi can convince the My Little Pony prima donna to buck up and focus on the good of the squad, da Bears offense might be on the rise.
Only three picks after his brother (don’t you see the family resemblance?) gets plucked by the Skins, the Falcons get their man with TC Williams co-captain Julius Campbell. After finishing 6-10 this past season with the last ranked defense in the league, the Dirty Birds fired long-time head coach Mike Smith, swapping him out for former Seattle Seahawks and Florida Gators defensive mind Dan Quinn. Quinn will take over a defensive unit that totaled only 22 sacks this past season, a number that tied them with the Raiders for the second lowest mark in the NFL. All signs are pointing to Quinn implementing a s 4-3 scheme in the ATL similar to how he ran things out in Seattle, and it will be interesting to see where Campbell finds his niche as the season progresses.
Though he played the strong-side defensive end spot for the Titans, Campbell might spend a little bit of time at the weak-side Leo position, much like Gus Bradley is likely to utilize Bobby Boucher in Jacksonville. Campbell is an athletic prospect that also lettered in basketball, and despite his lanky frame he is strong at the point of attack. Generally the quiet type, Campbell lets his game do most of the talking. Nevertheless, he plays with an attitude, and is a lead-by-example kind of guy that will be great in the Atlanta locker room. Eventually he could pack on enough weight to assume his former role as a strong-side end, but until then it will be fun to watch Campbell pin his ears back and terrorize the likes of Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Willie Beamen down in the NFC South.
9. New York Giants – Bud Kaminski – OT – The Program (1993)
After hitting the jackpot last year with one of the NFL’s best athletes, Tom Coughlin and the G-Men address their offense once more with the addition of ESU Timberwolves stud lineman Bud Kaminski. A four year starter at right tackle for Wolves head coach Sam Winters, Kaminski will enter the Giants offensive line rotation immediately, a year after the Giants lost both Chris Snee and David Diehl.
Picking Kaminski isn’t nearly as sexy as last year’s choice in Odell Beckham Jr., but Eli Manning will surely appreciate the protection offered by this experienced rookie. Taking Kaminski could allow second year Syracuse product Justin Pugh to move inside to guard, or the ESU tackle could also give William Beatty a run for his money at the left tackle position. Either way, Kaminski has all the tools to excel as an NFL offensive lineman, and he will provide a major boost to a Giants offensive unit that averaged less than 4 yards per carry last year.
10. St. Louis Rams – Air Bud – WR – Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998)
There ain’t no rule in the rule book that says a dog can’t play. A year after taking the first openly gay player in NFL draft history, the Rams pull the initial shocker of the evening by picking the league’s first canine. The shifty slot retriever will face the tall task of making an immediate impact on a St. Louis squad that has not had a distinct number one since the days of the greatest show on turf. Buddy set a combine record in February, clocking in at a blazing 4.17 40-yard dash, and after Oakland passed on the pooch, Jeff Fisher and has squad are now blessed with a rare breed at the receiver spot.
Though he’s no longer a puppy, it may take a little bit of time for this golden to adjust to the physicality of the professional level. Even still, his separation skills are second to none, and he comes from a great bloodline. A dynamic athlete, Buddy’s freakish skills across the entire sporting spectrum can’t be ignored. The biggest winner with this selection is Nick Foles, who will look to instantly forge a bond with the quick canine out in the Lou. The two are going to need to become best friends if they want to make some serious noise out in the NFC West, but Buddy’s got a higher ceiling than any of Foles’ previous receiving threats in Philly. The Rams could have upgraded at the defensive back position here, but the DB position doesn’t have many true stand outs in the film draft. It may take a year of two for Buddy to become fully house trained in the Rams’ locker room, but his potential is limitless.
With Adrian Peterson absent from voluntary workouts, Minnesota considered the possibility to spending their first round selection on a running back. Eventually their anxiety subsided, and they choose to address a bigger need on their roster, the linebacker position. With veteran Chad Greenway and second year freak Anthony Barr manning the outside spots for Minnesota, the Shark will man the middle for Minnesota, and the Vikings will sport one of the most talented LB cores in the league.
Lavay is a vaunted pass-rusher from the backer position, and his leadership skills are unquestioned. The Vikings’ choice makes sense from a need standpoint, but Minnesota does face somewhat of a risk due to the Shark’s past medical history. Nevertheless, his natural ability is the stuff of legends, and the former Miami backer will give it all he’s got until his time comes, because he knows how quickly the game can be taken away.
After taking another Johnny Football only a year earlier, the Browns can’t pass up the knowledge, leadership capabilities, and toughness offered by West Canaan’s gunslinger. After getting his shot with Coyote quarterback Lance Harbor on the mend, Mox responded beautifully, showcasing an “it” factor and will to win that is rivaled by few other quarterbacks in this class. Rumors surfaced from his high school coach Bud Kilmer that Moxon is uncoachable at times, but he put those worries to rest after having the opportunity to speak to organizations at the combine. With one of the highest Wonderlic scores of any quarterback, this Ivy league prospect will look to take over a Browns offense that ranked in the lower third of the league, and only averaged 18.7 points per contest.
On the field, Moxon possesses the smarts to orchestrate a pro-style offense, and his grit oozes from game film. He excels in the short range passing game, and his ability to evade the rush is impressive considering he isn’t a burner by any means. He doles out his toughness to others, and is a highly respected member in the huddle and in the locker room. It will be interesting to watch the quarterback competition that develops between Johnny Football² once Cleveland heads to mini camp, but Manziel will have his work cut out for him with the arrival of Moxon. Cleveland also has the 19th pick in the first round, and odds are they will look to provide Moxon with a weapon in the passing game.
The first defensive back off the board, Djordjevic defies his own logic, making it to the NFL despite numerous odds. Stef doesn’t fit the size of the league’s prototypical corner, but he plays with a profound confidence and swagger about his game that is noticeable on film. He is technically sound, his closing speed is impressive, and he hits like a truck.
Ideally, Stef will slide into the slot corner position for New Orleans, and the Saints will line up Keenan Lewis, and newly acquired, back-to-back Super Bowl winning thumper Brandon Browner on the outside. Add that to a defense that’s also sending out Jairus Byrd and third year man Kenny Vaccaro at the safety position, and the Who Dat Nation has something to get excited about. With Djordjevic adding necessary depth to the defensive back position, odds are New Orleans will be looking to add another offensive threat later on in the first round after they traded Jimmy Graham for Seattle’s first rounder.
Tom Cruise ALWAYS gets the last laugh — remember that. If he ever gets over the fact that his agent got picked before him, Tidwell could make a name for himself in a market like Miami. Even with the trade for Saints wideout Kenny Stills, Miami recognizes the importance of surrounding Ryan Tannehill with a group of weapons, and a tough-nosed guy like Tidwell could be just the fit. Fast, fierce, and wildly charismatic, Tidwell has diva receiver written all over him. Luckily for Miami GM Dennis Hickey, the receiver’s salary will be pre-determined by the CBA, so the Arizona State product shouldn’t miss any time due to holding out.
The quan seeking receiver could find peace down in South Beach, even if it means getting decked across the middle on a weekly basis. Despite his slight frame, Tidwell shows a willingness to go and get the ball no matter what kind of traffic he is in, and his hands are better than anyone in this class not named Deacon Moss. He’s been undervalued nearly his entire playing career, so going to a situation like Miami might be a nice change of scenery for Tidwell. If nothing else, he should have fun riding the advertisement coattails of Donkey Kong Suh. With that being the case, maybe he can hire a tailor for those pinstripe suits of his.
The 49ers underwent the unthinkable during this year’s free agency period after five time All-Pro Patrick Willis and rookie standout Chris Borland both chose to hang up their cleats. NaVarro Bowman is returning from the gruesome knee injury he sustained in the 2014 NFC championship game, but the addition of Meaney provides San Fran with another capable inside guy for their 3-4 scheme. There were a number of holes for Jim Tomsula and Trent Baalke to address this off-season, and a proven talent like Meaney is the safe pick that can be expected from a coach that doesn’t seem to have time for bells and whistles.
During the portions of Tomsula’s head coaching presser that I was able to stay awake, he came across as a guy that feels his way out slowly, taking the time to process the nature of each move. Whether or not that style will be effective as an NFL head coach remains to be seen, but with the Meaney selection, you can get a picture of what type of football player Tomsula is looking for. The choo-choo train is very fundamentally sound, he knows and executes his assignments, and he’s a player that leads vocally and by example. He lives up to his name, exhibiting an anger about his game that he attempts to project upon his opponent. The undeniable leader of Red Beaulieu’s UL Cougars, Meaney steps into a potential leadership role on a Niners squad with a relatively blank slate.
The heart, soul, and mouth of Sam Winters’ ESU defense, Mack becomes the second Wolves player to be drafted. A year after spending the number one overall pick on outside backer Jadeveon Clowney, Houston addresses the linebacker position once more at 16, this time looking to solidify their inside backer position for the foreseeable future. After two straight seasons marred by injury, Texans vet Brian Cushing played in 14 games this past season, registering 72 tackles and looking somewhat reminiscent of the player he was as a rookie all the way back in 2009. Mack knows a thing or two about rehabbing from injury, as he blew out his left knee during his senior year at ESU. Nevertheless he is targeting a training camp return, and Houston felt confident enough with his past medical records to make the call.
Mack is a terrifying middle backer who will flourish if given the keys to a defense. He’s as naturally gifted a prospect as there is in this class, and his knowledge of defensive schemes is unparalleled. He registered a pedestrian Wonderlic score, but teams were reportedly blown away by his knowledge once they got him on the white board. He transfers that knowledge to the field quite well, showcasing brute strength at the point of attack, the ability to sift through the LOS and “take a picture,” and closing speed that rivals that of Bobby Boucher. Houston really couldn’t go wrong with either one of Mack or Meaney, but the Wolves defensive captain offers a greater degree of athleticism, and Houston will be happy to add him to a unit that features some of the most profound freaks the league has to offer.
One of a few running backs considered worthy of a first round selection, Jennings was voted the Heisman runner-up this past year after racking up a total of 2,159 total yards and 22 touchdowns for Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. Jennings’ ability to pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield make him an every down back, and San Diego has been looking for one since LaDanian Tomlinson bid adieu to the franchise after the 2009 season. With Ryan Mathews now a part of Chip Kelly’s three-headed monster out in Philly, and 5’8″ 208 pound Branden Oliver as their best option, the Bolts will do their best to look past Jennings’ off-field missteps as they make him the first back off the board.
Jennings is the most well-rounded back in the draft. At 6’1″ 227, he also takes the title as this years biggest back. Though you will probably see Mike McCoy use a combination of backs over the course of the year, there is no doubt that Jennings will probably get the bulk of the carries out in San Diego. After averaging 3.4 yards per tote and ranking 30th in the league in rushing this past season, it became apparent to the San Diego organization that they desperately needed to upgrade their running attack. Along with the addition of Jennings, San Diego also added versatile Denver import Orlando Franklin. With a renewed running effort, Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offense will look to rebound after a bitter postseason end to their 2014-2015 season.
After addressing their needs at the receiver position in free agency with the addition of Missouri native Jeremy Maclin, Andy Reid is able to make the prototypical Andy Reid pick. The Walrus knows that games are won and lost in the trenches, and plugging Christian into a front seven that already boasts Dontari Poe and last year’s sack leader Justin Houston is a scary proposition. Christian would likely slide into the 3-4 defensive end position opposite physical freak Allen Bailey, and he will have a chance to make an immediate impact for a defense with the veteran impact to negate any bumps and bruises he might experience in his rookie campaign.
Although Christian won’t inherit a load of responsibility in his first year in KC, he has the potential to be an All-Pro lineman within a few years. His measurables suggest that he still has some growing to do, and all signs point to Christian’s best playing days being ahead of him. He has a tendency to play soft at times and fade out of his team’s defensive equation, but moments of passion and leadership have defensive coordinators around the league excited about what this West Texas product has to offer.
After drafting his high school quarterback seven slots earlier, the Browns take a huge chance by selecting West Canaan’s number one receiver, Charlie Tweeder. And while the irony of drafting Johnny Football two drafts in a row is astounding, so is the fact that Tweeder is essentially Manziel in a receiver’s body. Surrounded by a shroud of red flags and an equally impressive statistical output, Tweeder will be thrust into Cleveland’s starting equation with Josh Gordon out for the entire 2015-2016 campaign.
Regardless of which Johnny is throwing him the rock, it’s a foregone conclusion that Tweeder will chalk up the most targets out of the Browns’ receiving corps this coming season. He’s a textbook possession receiver with enough balls to take a few licks, but that’s only because he’s hopped on pain meds 25/7. That’s going to be the question with Tweeder throughout his career, however long it may be. How long can he stay clean. Can he stay clean in the first place? After already failing to tame the issues presented by Manziel and Gordon, the Cleveland front office is taking a huge risk by drafting the slight Texan wideout, however, the bond he and Moxon have will be instrumental to Tweeder’s future with the Dog Pound.
The words don’t even escape Howie Roseman’s conscience as averts his gaze across the war room table towards Chip Kelly.
“You know what I want,” Chip declares. He slides an index card across the table and the name Ronnie Bass is scrawled in kelly green ink sandwiched by peace sign and football emojis. Since falling short of the postseason, Kelly has conducted an unprecedented cleaning of house in the City of Brotherly Love, making a slew of questionable moves that have rendered the Birds with an entirely new look on offense. Gone are the days of Shady and J-Mac, and let the DeMarco Murray era in Philadelphia begin.
One of the biggest reasons why Murray decided to head to Philadelphia, his college quarterback Sam Bradford, looks to be in a competition with Chip’s addition of Bass to the Philly equation. Never mind that his sexual preference might clash in the film room with Tim Tebow’s religious beliefs; Bass has got larger seas to part. Unseating Bradford from his assumed role as the starting quarterback will be no small feat for Sunshine, but he proved multiple times for coach Herman Boone that he can rise to the occasion when necessary. Kelly’s quarterback philosophy is to treat each signal caller like a tea bag. Until you put him in hot water, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Though he’s worked well with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur in the past, the oft-injured Bradford will have his hands full battling Bass. The TC Williams dual-threat knows how to run a spread attack, and his pin-point accuracy is exactly what Kelly looks for out of his quarterbacks.
This is the kind of first round slide he was worried about, but Mack’s selection at pick 21 isn’t fully representative of his talent. The Ohio State prospect projects as the third best 4-3 DE prospect in the draft after Herman Boone’s dangerous combination, and in all honesty the fellow Virginia native might be more NFL ready than the two TC Williams studs. Mack’s got incredible twitch, and his speed off the ball set him apart from the rest of his collegiate compeition. Sure, it’s the Big Ten and not the SEC, but every time you put on his tape you see Mack make plays in one capacity or another, and his passion for the game is undeniable. Aside from an ejection during OSU’s battle against Bo Callahan and the Wisconsin Badgers (a game in which Mack registered 4 sacks) Mack doesn’t raise any character concerns, and he will be given a chance by Cincy DC Paul Guenther to flourish as one of the leaders of the Bengals’ front seven.
After a 2014-2015 season in which they were ranked dead last in the league with only 20 sacks, Cincy’s decision to pluck Mack from Urban Meyer’s bunch is a no-brainer. Former Bengal Michael Johnson was brought back into the fold this offseason after he spent an underwhelming year with Lovie Smith down in Tampa, and in two years Margus Hunt has yet to transform into the Greek God the media played him up to be during the 2013 draft. Driven by both need and value, Cincy’s selection of Mack is the most logical movie with this pick. Providing man-child Carlos Dunlap with a runningmate on the opposite side of the line was a must for the Bengals heading into this off-season, and the youthful swagger of a prospect like Mack could be just the ticket.
The undisputed captain of coach Gary Gaines’ MOJO Panthers, Chavez steps into even bigger shoes after being selected by Mike Tomlin and the Steel City. Chavez’s selection comes only 20 days after future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu called it quits, and the Ivy League safety will be looked at to plug Polamalu’s vacancy immediately. If anyone in the film draft is capable of filling Polamalu’s spot though, it’s Chavez. He lettered multiple times at Permian High, helping them reach the state semi-finals his senior year.
Chavez doesn’t show the same level of athleticism as Polamalu, but he makes up for it with his smarts for the game. He lets his violent game do the talking, but the MOJO alum can also be the voice of reason during times of distress. Now that he’s a part of an aging Steelers secondary, Chavez will be looked upon not only to shoulder the load left behind by Polamalu, but it’s also fair to assume he could eventually become the quarterback of Pittsburgh’s defense in a few years.
After seriously considering adding one of the plethora of running backs still on the board, Detroit’s Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz backtracked, ultimately going with former Washington Sentinels replacement Andre Jackson. The bigger of the Jackson brothers, Andre will slide into Detroit’s LG position after his impressive stint protecting new Jets QB Shane Falco. Jackson’s a mauler with a mean streak that will add a sense of attitude to Detroit’s running game, a unit that ranked 28th in the league this past season.
While Detroit’s struggles in the run game are well-documented, so too is their piss poor pass protection. Matt Stafford was sacked a total of 45 times this past season, a number that tied him for fourth most in the league with Kansas City’s Alex Smith. For years now the Lions’ offense has been stocked with copious weapons, but never have they had the reinforcements to protect their precious cargo. A former bodyguard, Jackson will look to qualm Detroit’s protection deficiencies immediately, and despite some key off-season subtractions, the Motor City squad hopes to find themselves in playoff contention come 2016.
He can spin left. He can spin right. Don’t make no difference. He can block, tackle, score the touchdown, snap the ball, hold the snap, and kick the extra point. Hell, the boy will fill up the Gatorade cooler, walk the dog, and paint your back porch. I’m tellin’ you — the boy can flat out play football… AND HE CAN PASS!
Bruce Arians and the Cardinals lucked out with this one. Once thought to be a surefire top ten pick, Miles slips to Arizona because of injury concerns. After blowing out his knee during pre-season mop up duty, Boobie saw his stock slide severely as teams began to question whether or not he could revert to his old form. With a need at the running back position, Arizona takes a chance on Miles — a chance that could eventually transform into sweet success in the NFC West. If there’s one thing he knows how to do, it’s play football, and Miles has all the intangibles you can ask for out of a workhorse back. After coming back from his injury, Miles will look to distinguish himself as the lead guy in the Cards backfield, with Andre Ellington coming in as a change of pace option.
After the horror of last season, injuries are the last thing Arizona wants to worry about. It will ultimately be up to team doctors to declare Miles’ knee fit to play or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Miles make a gradual return to the playing field this upcoming season. A potential transcendent talent, Boobie’s fit with a playoff caliber team like Arizona is one of the most intriguing pairs in the entire draft.
A year after they took Florida State possession receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers go out and snag Cam Newton his own personal speedster. Franklin slipped down some draft boards due to his questionable hands, but after having the chance to meet him in person, scouts rave about Franklin’s great attitude and desire to succeed. Those two traits (plus the fact that he runs a legit 4.3) are the reasons why Ron Rivera and the Panthers war room felt comfortable with making the call for Franklin.
Over the course of his short stint with Washington, Franklin really came into his own for the Sentinels. His hands, while still an area of concern, have started to catch up to his feet, and his ball skills have improved tremendously. At this point in time, Franklin might have one of the highest ceilings of the WR crop, and the general consensus around the league is that his best playing days are ahead of him. Clifford Franklin have moves even Clifford Franklin ain’t even seen yet.
Baltimore locked up 2011 first round corner Jimmy Smith for the next four years to the tune of $48 million, but that won’t stop Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome from trying to upgrade his defense. The Ravens haven’t had much continuity in their defensive backfield over the past few seasons due to injury, and Wilkinson could come in and instantly ease those concerns. Just like Smith, Wilkinson has had his off-field run ins, but owner Steve Bisciotti have given the Washington Sentinel fill-in the ‘ol one over just like he did the Ray Rice situation.
Who are we kidding though? Wilkinson allegedly beat up those cops, and just like the rest of the cons on this draft board, he’ll be granted one more shot by the commissioner to walk the straight and narrow. Baltimore’s been drowning in hot water since the Ray Rice situation this past season, and the entire Ravens organization is hoping that Wilkinson learned his lesson after his abrupt departure from Minnesota. If that’s the case, Wilkinson and Smith could turn into one of the most feared corner tandems in the AFC.
You didn’t think Jerry would be able to deny his gut instinct two years in a row, did you? Since the time he was pushing the pigskin across his shag carpet as a four year old, Spike has been bred for football glory. Just ask his pops. It only seems right within the grand scheme of the football gods that the Boys would luck out with a talent like Hammersmith slipping to them this late in the first round. Sure, DeMarco Murray had a hell of a season for
America’s Team Dallas this past year, but I get the impression that just about anybody could run behind that offensive line.
Hammersmith will assume the bulk of the carries in Dallas’ backfield, and he should instantly be considered an early candidate for offensive rookie of the year. His game tape screams potential, and though he tested out with a 6.5 40 yard dash and the bench press numbers of a pre-teen Kevin Durant, it’s quite clear after watching the Hammer drag featherweight dweebs in his dust that he’ll be ready for the pros in no time. Get Spike in that Power I and watch him work, Jerry, we know you’re the one actually calling the plays.
Five picks later, the second half of the brothers Jackson gets scooped up by John Elway’s bunch in the Mile High City. Peyton Manning will let out a deep sigh of relief with this choice, as Denver let Orlando Franklin walk out the door at the beginning of free agency, and the Broncos’ offensive line has been a mismatch unit since Manning joined the club in 2012. While it is a logical choice, this move by Denver is a bit of a risk. The last time the Jackson brothers were forced to play on separate teams their careers crumbled, and they faded from relevance.
With a renewed outlook on his playing career, both Jackson and the Broncos should be optimistic about the former bodyguard’s second go around. He plays with a mean streak, and is an absolute monster in the run game. Every offensive line needs that one pesky son-of-a-bitch, and Jamal Jackson fits the bill. With the line being their biggest need, and the best outside linebackers already off the board, this pick is as standard as they come.
If Gary Bertier to the Skins and Spike Hammersmith to the Cowboys wasn’t enough to give you the warm fuzzies, get a load of this. Despite being vastly undersized, Notre Dame walk-on and Indiana native Rudy Ruettiger manages to sneak his way into the first round. The Colts haven’t had too much success drafting pass-rushers in recent memory, but Ruettiger will surely do his best to buck that trend. Indy coach Chuck Pagano clearly saw something out of the golden domer, so much so that he choose Rudy over other options like Heisman legacy Becky O’Shea and crazed lunatic Danny Bateman.
Ruettiger won’t be looked at to offer heavy contributions from the get-go, but learning from experienced vets like Trent Cole and Robert Mathis could bring him up to speed quicker than some scouts anticipate. Rudy’s relentless motor and passion for the game are unmatched by any other prospect in the entire film draft, and he’s the kind of player you want in your locker room. Regardless of the fact that he was definitely offsides on his lone college play, this feel-good pick could eventually pay dividends for Indy.
Someone get a DNA test to make sure Lattimer isn’t a part of the Matthews bloodline. Just kidding, they’re probably just on the same ‘roid pack. It’s almost inconceivable that Green Bay thought they might have to move up just to take Sam Winters’ former backer, especially considering the amount of turmoil Lattimer has been through since the beginning of his senior season at ESU. After struggling to crack the starting lineup throughout his entire collegiate career, the emotional Wolves backer turned to PEDs to take his game to the next level. And while his drug usage did result in a place at the table, it also resulted in a domestic violence case that landed him a three-week suspension. Because of these transgressions, Lattimer will be placed in the league’s substance abuse program, and he’ll spend an undisclosed amount of hours in domestic violence classes.
As far as his contributions on the field are concerned, Lattimer’s addition to the Packers’ defense will allow Clay Matthews to slide back to his familiar position at outside backer. Due to injuries, Matthews was asked to play inside during a large portion of this past season, and though the switch proved effective, Matthews’ presence is felt most as a pass-rusher. Lattimer’s reputation as a headcase off the field transfers on to it, and he plays with reckless abandon. He’ll improve Green Bay’s run defense immediately, which is a must after the Packers’ 2014-2015 unit finished in the bottom third of the league.
After addressing the cornerback position with the 13th overall choice, New Orleans now looks to upgrade their offensive unit with the second to last pick of the first round. The Saints committed the unthinkable when they traded matchup nightmare Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks at the start of free agency, but Sean Payton will do his best to utilize Murphy in a similar fashion. He would have went in the first round five years ago if he hadn’t been born deaf, but the Gallaudet product finally gets his chance in the film draft. Payton and the Saints staff will have their hands full with the communicative process that comes along with Murphy’s condition, but his skills as a down-field threat are too much to ignore.
New Orleans relied heavily on the production and presence of Graham, and though he doesn’t possess the same level of athleticism, Murphy could make an early impact on a Saints roster that racked up the most yards of any team in the league this past season. They brought in Bills running back CJ Spiller in addition to resigning Bama bruiser Mark Ingram, and Brandin Cooks will enter his second season in Payton’s offense with a bigger role at the receiver spot. Murphy’s impact won’t be nearly as profound as that of a player like Graham, but his hands are outstanding, and he is a willing blocker. Like Graham, however, Payton will look to move Murphy all over the field to capitalize on his mismatch potential, particularly up the seam and in the redzone.
Year in and year out it seems as though Bill Belichick seems to make the right choice, and once again he slips out the back door of the first round with an All-American. Gump’s descent to the bottom of the first round is due to a historically low Wonderlic, and questions about whether or not he truly loves the game of football. His lone All-American season was enough to convince Belichick, however, and the well-versed Bama speed demon will head to Foxborough without a true position on the roster.
A textbook Patriot, Gump will be utilized all over the field for Belichick as the coach attempts to find just the right fit. The former marine will see time as a change of pace back to Legarrette Blount, and he’ll be slotted immediately as a kick and punt returner for the Pats. Analysts and scouts alike question whether or not Gump’s mental capacity will allow him to flourish at the professional level, to which college coach Bear Bryant duly answered
Well played, coach. Well played.
Ten Best Available – The following prospects were right on the fringe of being selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Football Film Draft, but due to one reason or another, they’re still left on the board.
Becky O’Shea – ILB – The Little Giants (1994)
It should come as no surprise that O’Shea was a stalwart in the middle of her father’s defense, as she comes from a Heisman winning bloodline. While there’s no objection to O’Shea’s skills on the field, scouts question her passion for the game.
Turley – NT – The Longest Yard (2005)
Both Mike Tomlin and Bill Belichick contemplated selecting Turley, but ultimately no team in the first round was able to pull the trigger. While he’s an absolute specimen, the five-star convict has little to no football playing experience, and he’s got a long way to go before he becomes the dominant animal that his potential suggests.
Earl Megget – RB – The Longest Yard (2005)
One of the top backs left on the board, Megget dropped out of first round contention partly based on need and partly based on size. He’s not an every down back, but it’s his home run speed that teams will jockey for in the second round.
Junior Floyd – QB – The Little Giants (1994)
Floyd shows all the signs of a franchise quarterback, but it’s simply too early to spend a first round pick on him. It wasn’t long ago that he was chunking single-ply the entire length of the grocery store, but the professional game is a different beast. Keep an eye on Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans as a potential landing spot in the mid portion of round 2.
Chris Comer – RB – Friday Night Lights (2004)
After a strong junior season, and a state-championship-winning senior campaign for the Permian Panthers, Comer hoped to make he and Boobie Miles the first running back tandem to go in the first round since Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams in 2005. He fell just short due to some concerns scouts have that he shies away from contact, but Comer’s got some of the best burners left, and a team like Minnesota might take a chance on him just in case Adrian Peterson gets his way.
Billy Bob – OG – Varsity Blues (1999)
It’s rare even seeing two offensive guards being drafted in the first round, so it’s no surprise that West Caanan’s beloved William Robert falls into the second day pool. That being said, he should make a huge splash on Friday night, as teams have been impressed by his quick feet and passion for the game. There were initial concerns that the Coyote’s top lineman had severe concussion problems, but doctor the doctor scanned his cat and he checked out ok. Look for a team like Oakland or Kansas City to pull the trigger on this mammoth on day 2.
Julian “J-Man” Washington – RB – Any Given Sunday (1999)
A pervading coke problem and a bad rap with his former squad are the reasons why Washington slipped from first round consideration. He’s a talented back, but it will take the right fit for him to reach his pinnacle again.
Uncle Rico – QB – Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Back in ’82 Rico used to be able to throw a pigskin a quarter mile. That, coupled with his pinpoint accuracy, is the reason why he received first round consideration from a number of QB needy teams. Ultimately his age kept him out of the first round, but there’s no doubt that some team will fall in love with his highlight tape sooner or later.
Danny Bateman – ILB – The Replacements (2000)
A bull in a China shop, Bateman’s a former Navy Seal that made an impression during his short stint with Jimmy McGinty’s Washing Sentinels. He’s a step slower than Alvin Mack, and a few inches shorter than Greg Meaney, but that won’t stop a team like the Indianapolis Colts from snatching him up on day 2.
Barney Gorman – K – The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon (1998)
With the arrival of rookie Pro-Bowler Cody Parkey, it’s highly unlikely that Gorman will end up back with his hometown Eagles. That being said, there’s a number of teams that would be willing to spend a pick on a kicker with the kind of boot Gorman’s got. Then again, he is a kicker…
Enjoy the draft, folks. . .
*Mel Kiper III