NFL

Grading the NFL Draft Through Movies

All the world’s eyes were on the stage in Radio City Music Hall this weekend, and all the men were merely players. They had their phone calls, exits, entrances, and occasional embraces with Roger Goodell, and now they, in their time in the NFL, must play their many parts.

It seems only natural, then, that these actors on the grand stage, and the general managers and coaches directing their movements should be compared to random movies that have little do with them. You’ve seen numerous draft grades, but here we go “Rotten Tomatoes” style, by comparing each team’s draft to a film that comes to mind, some serious, most whimsical.

Arizona– Almost Famous. Philip Seymour Hoffman played Lester Bangs in yet another great supporting role. For most of the decade, Hoffman has been one of the best in those supporting roles, and now the Cardinals add Michael Floyd at wide receiver to Larry Fitzgerald, ignoring other needs early, hoping that Floyd can be “Almost Famous” as the best supporting receiver in the league.

Atlanta Falcons– Dumb and Dumberer, When Harry Met Lloyd. Just as we like to erase this film from our memories, Atlanta would rather focus on the outcome from the previous effort, when they traded up for Julio Jones, than what happens in the hamstrung and star-less sequel.

Baltimore–Midnight In Paris. Like Woody Allen, Ozzie Newsome continues to churn out year after year of quality drafts, some more praised than others. He never lacks for finding A-listers to fill his specifically designed roles. This year, Courtney Upshaw falling to Baltimore in the second round is a perfect example of how Newsome keeps churning out hit after hit.

Buffalo Bills–The Shining. I like what the Bills did in this draft, getting CB Gilmore from South Carolina and Cordy Glenn from Georgia. I can’t help but wonder, though, if all these drafted players brought from the south to be winter caretakers might go a little crazy in the Bills’ version of the Overlook Hotel.

Carolina Panthers–Last of the Mohicans. Inside linebackers and guards are a dying breed early in the draft, but the Panthers went with a star at inside linebacker in Luke Kuechly, followed by Amini Silatolu, a relative unknown from Midwestern State, but who is poised to emerge as a starter quickly. Kuechly is like Daniel Day-Lewis, often overlooked by the general public, but likely to produce at a consistent high level.

Chicago Bears–Ernest Goes To Camp. First round pick Shea McClellin, farm boy from Idaho, has a certain Jim Varney-esque charm. Alshon Jeffery, then, plays the role of Chip Ozgood after his rumored weight issues leading into the draft.

Cincinnati Bengals–The Artist. The silent film was universally praised by critics for its depiction of the film industry in the 1920′s. The Bengals, who don’t employ many scouts, and tend to follow what draftniks say, are getting universally praised by the insiders as well. Much like The Artist, despite the critical acclaim and nomination for draft awards, no one actually wants to watch the Bengals more than once this year.

Cleveland Browns–Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This seems only natural, as the Browns even drafted John Hughes in the fourth round to play defensive tackle. Trent Richardson is the star, like Broderick, while the second pick in the first round, QB Brandon Weeden, is cast in a role that could have gone to someone much younger, much like Cleveland native Alan Ruck as Cameron Frye. Can’t we picture Holmgren as Rooney? I have it right here in front of me. The Browns have now missed the playoffs nine times.

Dallas Cowboys–Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Jerry Jones as Jerry Bruckheimer, in a Disney film? Yes, immensely popular franchise that is not always highly thought of within the industry, but never boring. Jones started this one with a splash, just like in Pirates, when he traded up for A-lister Morris Claiborne.

Denver Broncos–Little Fockers. This film relied on its star power and previous work as a sequel. The Broncos brought in Peyton Manning, but I’m not sure they surrounded him with the cast and script in this draft to make his stint in Denver reach critical success, trading down, not adding weapons on offense, and spending an early pick on a potential successor.

Detroit Lions– Oklahoma! The Lions selected three players from OU in this draft, and Lions fans hope to be singing “Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’” after filling a need with Riley Reiff at tackle. Detroit will hope that last season was not a dream induced by laudanum.

Green Bay Packers–Dr. Strangelove. Like Stanley Kubrick, Ted Thompson is a master director never afraid to take chances and tackle an unpopular topic, or cast George C. Scott in a comedy role. In this draft, Thompson made trades and moved around to get his targets. To avoid further meltdowns, he moved up for Jerel Worthy, Casey Heyward, and Terrell Manning, all on defense. Green Bay fans should learn to stop worrying and love the draft with Thompson in charge. Much like the Packers’ first pick, we can only assume Jermichael Finley has never heard of this movie.

[ed. note: I apologize for deleting out the Houston Texans, who we all like to conveniently ignore. I would have gone with the classic The Third Man, which like Whitney Mercilus, had a male lead with a typical female name in Holly Martens. Well acted and with players suitably cast to their roles, much like late rounder Jared Crick, a perfect fit for Wade Phillips.]

Indianapolis Colts–The Outsiders. A cast of future stars are assembled, and of course Soda Pop Curtis knew who the Colts were going to take at every turn.

Jacksonville Jaguars–The Phantom Menace. The Jaguars drafted Bryan Anger, a punter, in the third round! In a draft with major plot holes that angered the hardcore fans, the ridiculous character led to much criticism, making him the Jar Jar Binks of the football draft.

Kansas City Chiefs– The Crying Game. Did Roger Goodell end up vomiting in the bathroom at NFL headquarters after the draft? I know I felt like it.

Miami Dolphins– The Butterfly Effect. Like Ashton Kutcher, Ryan Tannehill is most famous for who he married at this point. Is Tannehill overmatched in a leading role? We’ll see, but this move will no doubt affect the franchise’s future either way.

Minnesota Vikings–A Simple Plan. The Vikings had no interest in Trent Richardson, but managed to trade down one spot, get their man in Ryan Kalil, and get some unexpected picks. In A Simple Plan, set in Minnesota, Bill Paxton unexpectedly finds some loot at the very beginning, but by the end it turns out to not provide him any value. We’ll see if the later round picks for Minnesota actually produce anything beyond temporary elation and ultimate heartache.

New England Patriots– Watchmen. Like Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, Bill Belichek is the smartest man on the planet, and seems to be several steps ahead of everyone else, while pulling the strings behind the scenes. He went against type early in the draft, surprising by trading up twice for Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower. Then he perplexed the draft pundits by taking a safety Tavon Wilson that most did not have projected that high.

New Orleans Saints– Strange Brew. A scandalous plot to cause people to attack others when the right notes are played, orchestrated by an evil genius? Foiled by a couple of beer swilling nitwits (allegedly)? Sounds like Bounty-gate to me. The meandering and often pointless plot took a while to get going, just like the Saints’ picks. And when they finally got around to it, the hosers picked a player from north of the Border.

New York Giants–Reservoir Dogs. The Giants committed a bit of a heist last year winning the Super Bowl after going 9-7. The roster, though, is in pretty good shape, and they added value picks and playmakers who will play their role in an ensemble cast, just like Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink, Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Nice Guy Eddie and Joe Cabot.

New York Jets–The Life of Brian. New York selected the other Robert Griffin of Baylor late in the draft. We have to assume it is a case of mistaken identity, much like with Brian, and the Jets thought they were getting great value. Of course, this film’s religious undertones with the new star often confused for Jesus applies to the Jets. People don’t always get the Jets’ brand of draft humor, either.

Oakland Raiders–The Money Pit. Reggie McKenzie has come into this job and realizes that it’s going to take a lot more to gut the place. Unfortunately, the previous owners let it fall down and got rid of much of its recent value, and Oakland didn’t pick until the third round. Probably going to take at least another two weeks to get it fixed.

Philadelphia Eagles–The Dream Team. Of course. Who can forget this Michael Keaton classic where a bunch of mental patients go for a day out with their doctor. They run into trouble in the middle, just like the Eagles struggled due to to the linebacking corp. In the end, though, they face their weaknesses and use them to defeat the bad cops from NY, just as the Eagles drafted Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks to shore up the middle after adding DeMeco Ryans in an earlier trade.

Pittsburgh Steelers–The Avengers. The plot will not surprise you, but it’s a tried and true formula for box office success. Everything seems to be falling in place for this ensemble cast. The Steelers just keep plugging away, and this year filled their offensive line needs when David DeCastro fell to them at #24 and then they grabbed Mike Adams after he fell due to character concerns. The rest of us don’t want Pittsburgh to do well, and would prefer a smaller budget film to achieve success, but it seems inevitable that Pittsburgh, with its aging action stars, keeps on rolling after this draft.

St. Louis RamsThe Expendables. The Rams took a chance on some high upside risky characters, most notably Janoris Jenkins, while The Expendables features action stars everywhere with some character flaws but drawing power. Like Dolph Lundgren, Jenkins has some psychological and drug issues but is also talented. Brian Quick is a high upside small school product at wide receiver, where the Rams went away from convention, trading down from picking Justin Blackmon. Just like The Expendables, Jeff Fisher doesn’t care about accolades and just hopes for box office success and a quick sequel.

San Diego Chargers–Dazed And Confused. Melvin Ingram was very productive in college, but supposedly fell in the draft because of his disproportionately short arms. Apparently, Matthew McConaughy has a reputation for having T-Rex arms as well. The one thing A.J. Smith likes about the draft is he keeps getting older, but the draft picks stay the same age. The movie title also captures Chargers fans’ feelings after retaining Norv Turner again.

San Francisco– Speed. San Francisco opted for speed early in the draft with the selections of A.J. Jenkins at WR and LaMichael James at RB. In doing so, they may have overlooked actors with more depth and diversity of talent, but hope they can replicate Keanu Reeves’ box office success. San Francisco will hope that they do not slow down, lest bad things should happen, in 2012.

Seattle Seahawks– Junior. Almost universally hated by critics, Junior involved several plot reaches centered around Arnold Schwarzenegger being pregnant. Danny DeVito was undersized and cast as a supporting actor because he lacked typical Hollywood looks. Like Ivan Reitman, Pete Carroll owned Hollywood a decade earlier, but you have to wonder how much he has left.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Hugo. The Buccaneers started off their first draft with coach Greg Schiano by taking Mark Barron and Doug Martin. Hugo, directed by (Martin) Scorsese and including Sacha (Baron) Cohen (okay, that was bad), was a delightful surprise, and dealt with a young boy without significant means revitalizing the successes of a bygone era.

Tennessee Titans– Titan, A.E. Why? Man, I don’t know, but I’m 31 teams in and I didn’t feel like making a Titanic joke, talking about Harry Hamlin, or making the obvious Remember the Titans football link. Any time you have a chance to bring the voice talents of Nathan Lane, Bill Pullman and Matt Damon in, you do it. Same thing with Kendall Wright and Zach Brown.

Washington Redskins–Men In Black 3. MIB 3 will be released in May, and Barry Sonnenfeld and Steven Spielberg hope that the dynamic star power of Will Smith can carry it to commercial success. Similarly, the Redskins have thrown their big market power and future behind RG 3 and hope that he can carry a roster with plot holes and in need of flashy special effects.

[photos via US Presswire, avelyman, I'd also like to think Mike Ryan, my high school classmate, current senior entertainment editor at Huffington Post, and contributor to Vanity Fair for bouncing ideas with me]

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