Pop Culture Meets Pigskin: The 2014 Fantasy Draft

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Now that the slow-motion Bronco-plosion of Super Bowl XLVIII is but a bizarre memory, football fans can start looking forward to the next big date on the NFL calendar. The date when dreams are made, phenoms are crowned and everyone watches a podium with heart in throat.

That’s right: it’s time to get pumped for the theatrical release of Draft Day, the latest glittering hunk of incestuous cross-promotion approved by the NFL and ESPN! All hail Goodell! All hail Bristol!

Further torturing the battered psyche of Cleveland sports fans, the movie casts Kevin Costner as the daring, charismatic and silver-foxy GM of the sad-sack Browns football franchise. (In real life, the Browns ran their last GM out of town after just one year. Good luck, Ray Farmer!)

With the draft clock ticking, Costner must launch the proverbial Hail Mary pass to reverse the franchise’s seemingly endless descent into irrelevance. Can he make the big move? Chris Berman, Rich Eisen and the rest of the NFL commentariat are on the edge of their seats!

Presumably, the players Costner will be drafting are fictional—barring an outrageous Johnny Manziel cameo. So we figured, hey, why not go all out? If you’re going to build a movie around drafting made-up football players, why not accept only the best?

And so the idea for Paste’s Pop Culture Pigskin Fantasy Draft was born. Who’s eligible: any man, woman or anthropomorphic creature who’s ever donned pads in a movie, TV show or other medium. For our draft, we’re using the same selection order as the 2014 NFL Draft, and making picks based on each team’s needs as outlined by Daniel Jeremiah at NFL.com.

One rule: no drafting characters who were based on real people. (Sorry, Rudy, you lose again!)

So without further ado, we turn the podium over to our first team. Houston Texans: you’re on the clock.

1. Houston Texans

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2013 Record: 2-14
What they need: Imagine the Broncos’ Super Bowl disappointment stretched out across an entire season: bundles of expectation and fan excitement pushed off the top floor and hitting the pavement with a sickening thwack. Everything went wrong for the Texans this year, especially at quarterback, where starter Matt Schaub disintegrated spectacularly. So maybe it’s time to go with a real gamer under center…
The Pick: QB Paul “Wrecking” Crewe (Burt Reynolds) — The Longest Yard (1974)
Scouting Report: There may be other QBs on the board with more raw talent or more sympathetic backstories, but no GM could overlook the magnetic swagger of the original Paul Crewe. He can scramble, he can battle, he can disable opposing pass rushers with a well-placed howitzer to the junk. Manziel isn’t worthy of grooming this legend’s ample chest hair.

2. St. Louis Rams

(via Washington Redskins)

2Marcello-thedford.jpg

2013 Record: 2013 Record: 7-9
What they need: Someone to protect starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who has spent his first four years in the league getting smacked, sacked, lit up and torn up like a doomed Mr. Bill made flesh.
The Pick: OL Kelvin “The Buffalo” James (Marcello Thedford) — Playmakers (2003)
Scouting Report: Most pop culture linemen come across as jumbo-sized gimmicks, overcompensating for the fact that they play an unheralded position. But “The Buffalo” was a rock-steady anchor on ESPN’s short-lived football drama Playmakers. You could see why the NFL wasn’t a fan of its bleak depiction of the lives of professional footballers, which at times bordered on comically dysfunctional. But even as he got caught up in the series’ seedy storylines, Buffalo was always a guy you could count on the hold the line.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars

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2013 Record: 4-12
What they need: A personality. What are the Jacksonville Jaguars, exactly, and what have they ever been?
The Pick: QB “Steamin’” Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) — Any Given Sunday (1999)
Scouting Report: Oh this will give the Jags some personality, alright. Between his highlight reel plays, sub-Puffy rap videos and ample commercial endorsements, Beamen will make Jaguars games appointment viewing the way Michael Vick did for the Atlanta Falcons a decade ago. Which is a little backwards, actually, since Beamen was a pre-Vick harbinger of the rise of freakishly athletic mobile quarterbacks.

4. Cleveland Browns

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2013 Record: 4-12
What they need: Some teams are “unsettled at the quarterback position.” Then are the Cleveland Browns, who featured the three-headed monster of Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer lobbing passes in 2013. Weeden, the team’s 2012 first rounder, is gone. Sounds like this team needs … a replacement.
The Pick: QB Shane “Footsteps” Falco (Keanu Reeves) — The Replacements (2000)
Scouting Report: Now that he’s presumably gotten over his fear of making the big play, Falco is the guy you want in the huddle—if only to dispense gems like this, Off-the-cuff, half-assed inspiration should go far in Cleveland.

5. Oakland Raiders

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2013 Record: 4-12
What they need: Seven years on, the scars from the JaMarcus Russell experiment still run deep in Oakland. But once again, the Raiders need a passer. So let’s forget about scouting college football powerhouses this time … forget about scouting human beings, even. It’s time to go off the board.
The Pick: QB Bones Justice (voice of Roman Foster) — Mutant League (1994)
Scouting Report: Transformed into a walking skeleton by a radioactive earthquake, possessed by his desire for teamwork, fair play and justice, Bones would fit right in with Raider Nation. Plus he can absorb limb-detaching hits without spending any time on the DL. Best of all: he’s used to feuding with a corrupt, power-mad commissioner, which could make him the CM Punk-style rebel the NFL desperately needs.

6. Atlanta Falcons

6Bobby-boucher.jpg

2013 Record: 4-12
What they need: Among other things, the Falcons need to apply more pressure to opposing quarterbacks. They had some of the lowest sack numbers in the NFL last year. And when you need sacks, who else you gonna call?
The Pick: LB Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler) — The Waterboy (1998)
Scouting Report: Channeling his man-childish rage after a lifetime of teasing and mild romantic disappointment, Boucher set the NCAA record for sacks in a game with 16. That’s half as many as the Falcons had in 2013! His teammates love him so much, he doesn’t even need to make an inspirational halftime speech, he just needs to show up.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

7Charles-jefferson.jpg

2013 Record: 4-12
What they need: Continuing to flounder in irrelevance for the past three seasons, the Bucs need help from top to bottom. It wouldn’t hurt, though, for their defense to revert back to its early-’00s golden years.
The Pick: LB Charles Jefferson (Forest Whitaker) — Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Scouting Report: Boucher isn’t the only guy who uses his rage to fuel his on-field performance. If you mess with Jefferson—or his ride—he goes full Vesuvius. He’s a one-man army and future Oscar winner. Even with Tampa Bay focused on finding a defensive end, you don’t pass up on this kind of talent.

8. Minnesota Vikings

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2013 Record: 5-10-1
What they need: Here’s another team looking for a quarterback. The Vikings have wandered in the desert with Christian Ponder at the lead since those halcyon days of post-heel-turn Brett Favre.
The Pick: QB Johnny Walker (Anthony Michael Hall) — Johnny Be Good (1988)
Scouting Report: While he probably could have used a better script to support him, Walker is a pure high school football QB messiah. Like Friday Night Lights’ Jason Street without the crippling injury or love triangle angst, Walker will be the Vikings’ all-American lynchpin. Bonus: is best friends with a young Robert Downey Jr.

9. Buffalo Bills

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2013 Record: 6-10
What they need: Quoting NFL.com: “The Bills could use another stud linebacker to line up next to Kiko Alonso.” No-brainer here.
The Pick: LB “Terrible” Terry Tate, Office Linebacker (Lester Speight)
Scouting Report: The only man in professional football who could make Richard Sherman look tame. He’s an enforcer, man. Don’t nothin’ go down in his house. The Pain Train is coming, and the NFL had best be ready.

10. Detroit Lions

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2013 Record: 7-9
What they need: Calvin Johnson is an old man. It’s just a fact. Sure, he managed to haul in nearly 1,500 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns despite his rapidly crumbling body, but it’s time to bring in some new blood to the Lions’ receiving corps for insurance.
The Pick: WR Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) — Jerry Maguire (1996)
Scouting Report: “Show him the money!” etc. etc. But seriously, Tidwell brings a lot of flash to the table, including some of the most insane touchdown celebrations ever seen. Just look at those Tom Cruise reaction shots! A double-punch of Megatron and Tidwell would be devastating.

11. Tennessee Titans

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2013 Record: 7-9
What they need: Sometimes you draft to accentuate your strengths. The Titans’ defense is built on speed. The Titans could draft another athletic defender to complement that group.
The Pick: DB Stefen “Stef” Djordjevic (Tom Cruise) — All The Right Moves (1983)
Scouting Report: Despite having those “attitude problems” endemic to characters played by a young Tom Cruise (or hell, old Tom Cruise), Djordjevic is a good kid at heart. He just wants to get out of his dead-end steel mill town and go to college. And run around in tight black pants for girlfriend Lea Thompson, of course. He even wins over the black heart of coach Craig T. Nelson in the end, which ain’t easy.

12. New York Giants

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2013 Record: 7-9
What they need: The Giants partially righted the ship in 2013 after a humiliating 0-6 start, but there’s much to improve here. Another linebacker to strike fear into opponents’ hearts would be quite useful.
The Pick: LB Becky “Icebox” O’Shea (Shawna Waldron) — Little Giants (1994)
Scouting Report: Described as a “bezerko Barbie doll” by opposing players, O’Shea takes no prisoners on the field. And yeah, the Giants synergy really is too awesome to pass up with this pick.

13. St. Louis Rams

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2013 Record: 7-9
What they need: Having secured some protection for Sam Bradford, now the Rams need to give him a new target for big plays downfield.
The Pick: WR Phil Elliott (Nick Nolte) — North Dallas Forty (1979)
Scouting Report: The Rams are one of the youngest teams in the league, in need of a bit of veteran guidance. So what better role model to import than a hard-drinking, hard-living, painkiller-addicted receiver like Elliott? Oh sure he’s a little coarse, but when the game’s on the line, who would you rather throw to? (Spoiler: the answer is Elliott.)

14. Chicago Bears

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2013 Record: 8-8
What they need: Some of that good ol’ fashioned Chicago Bears defensive grit. Uncharacteristically, the Bears gave out yards like free candy at times in 2013, so any upgrade for the D is worth pursuing.
The Pick: DE Steve Lattimer (Andrew Bryniarski) — The Program (1993)
Scouting Report: Okay, so maybe he was juicing. Well, all right, he was definitely juicing. But presumably the NFL’s toughened PED testing program would keep Lattimer on the up-and-up, right? (Cough). Anyway, he’s starting defense all the way.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers

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2013 Record: 8-8
What they need: You could make the argument that the Steelers ought to draft an offensive tackle, as the NFL.com draft guide does, but some competing voices argue that now is the time to pick an elite weapon to complement Ben Roethlisberger. We think we have just the guy…
The Pick: WR Gotham Rogues Player (Hines Ward) — The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Scouting Report: So wait, is this cheating? To answer, we would have to unravel the most compelling mystery of Christopher Nolan’s capper to the Dark Knight Trilogy: are the Gotham Rogues a Bizarro World version of the Pittsburgh Steelers? Is this an alternate reality where Bruce Wayne ruthlessly bought Pittsburgh’s beloved football team and airlifted them to Gotham City? Or is the resemblance to the real-life Steelers (uniform colors, last names, faces) purely coincidental? Either way, you don’t skip a guy who can outrun an apocalyptic stadium collapse. As long as he can overcome the crippling survivor’s guilt, this guy’s a steal!

16. Dallas Cowboys

16Andre-krimm.jpg

2013 Record: 8-8
What they need: We all have our Tony Romo stories. (Ex.: “Remember the time he threw that back-breaking interception in the fourth quarter?” “Wait, which game are we talking about here?”) But many of those Cowboys heartbreakers don’t happen if the defense makes some timely stops. Big D needs a difference maker.
The Pick: DL Andre Krimm (Sinbad) — Necessary Roughness (1991)
Scouting Report: A noted vegetarian, Krimm has the speed, size and strength to make an immediate impact. More importantly, the Sinbad Factor is really too powerful to overlook here. Dallas loves a big personality, and he’s got one.

17. Baltimore Ravens

17BillyBob.jpg

2013 Record: 8-8
What they need: Whether you go by the advanced stats or the “I saw this team play” metric, the Ravens’ offensive line was just brutal last year.
The Pick: OL Billy Bob (Ron Lester) — Varsity Blues (1999)
Scouting Report: Utterly lovable, secure with his physique, capable of transcendent bursts of offense, Billy Bob is the total, XXXL package. For all their success, the Ravens have never exactly been a relatable team. But the aw-shucks, down-home influence of Billy Bob could be a revelation.

18. New York Jets

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2013 Record: 8-8
What they need: Whoever’s playing at quarterback for the Jets, bless his little heart, needs the right tools to be successful. Let’s get him a new friend to throw to, shall we?
The Pick: WR Charlie Tweeder (Scott Caan) — Varsity Blues (1999)
Scouting Report: Undersized but laden with West Texan ass-kicking attitude, Tweeder is a guy you love to play with and hate to play against. Like Wes Welker in a cowboy hat, he’ll slice and weave through your defense and leave fans spitting on the ground at his mention. Sure, he’s a little reckless off the field, but since when have the Jets shied away from dysfunction?

19. Miami Dolphins

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2013 Record: 8-8
What they need: Besides a fresh start after last year’s locker room soap opera and the departure of GM Jeff Ireland? How about a shiny new running back for a team that finished near the bottom of the league in rushing yards and touchdowns?
The Pick: RB Brian “Smash” Williams (Gaius Charles) — Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
Scouting Report: With help from both his devoted mother and high school coach (“Let me tell you something…”), Smash overcame a gauntlet of obstacles to make it onto the Texas A&M football squad. Unlike certain other hotshot running backs, Smash has learned that inborn talent and referring to yourself in the third person can only take a player so far.

20. Arizona Cardinals

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2013 Record: 10-6
What they need: Someone to guard rickety-yet-game quarterback Carson Palmer.
The Pick: OL Phillip Finch (Tab Thacker) — Wildcats (1986)
Scouting Report: While he was mostly used on special teams/sideline comedic relief in the movie, Finch has one thing you can’t teach: he spouts great one-liners. Oh yes, and he’s freaking huge. While motivation is sometimes a question with this charming mountain of a man, he’ll do just about anything for the right price. Including punching out your troublesome ex-spouse.

21. Green Bay Packers

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2013 Record: 8-7-1
What they need: Even with his horrifying spinal injury healing nicely, tight end Jermichael Finley likely won’t be returning to Green Bay. Now is the time to find a replacement.
The Pick: TE Brian Murphy (David Denman) — The Replacements (2000)
Scouting Report: The supposedly critical knock on Murphy is that he’s deaf, but the Seahawks’ Derrick Coleman has kind of blown that argument out of the water, hasn’t he? Murphy is an NFL-worthy talent and one of pop culture’s few prominent tight ends. He’s in!

22. Philadelphia Eagles

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2013 Record: 10-6
What they need: The Michael Vick era may be over in Philadelphia, and Vick’s whole dogfighting scandal is not exactly news anymore. And yet … the Eagles could use another receiver. And what better way to firmly repudiate the past actions of their past starter than by drafting a dog?
The Pick: WR Air Bud (Air Buddy) — Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998)
Scouting Report: Blazing speed, keen football sense, great hands paws teeth. Nick Foles, meet your new favorite target.

23. Kansas City Chiefs

23Buster-keaton.jpg

2013 Record: 11-5
What they need: Probably a heart transplant following their crushing playoff loss to Indianapolis. But also: a big playmaker to target downfield. The Chiefs averaged a paltry 10.7 yards per reception, second fewest in the league.
The Pick: WR Buster Keaton—Three Ages (1923)
Scouting Report: We do not jest. Scrawny and nebbish though he may appear, Keaton is a cunning warrior on the field, as demonstrated by an incredible 100-yard touchdown reception in Three Ages. Watch the slo-mo replay afterward and tell us this guy wouldn’t be a human highlight reel.

24. Cincinnati Bengals

24Hingle-mccringleberry.jpg

2013 Record: 11-5
What they need: It’s a fact: the Bengals were at their best when they were hopped up on their own attitude and employing players with bizarre names. Time to re-embrace that tradition!
The Pick: TE Hingle McCringleberry (Keegan-Michael Key) — Key & Peele (2012)
Scouting Report: The Bengals had some tough decisions to make, given the immense multitude of colorful personalities on display in the 2012 East/West Bowl, but McCringleberry stands out for his brash confidence and boundary-pushing celebrations.

25. San Diego Chargers

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2013 Record: 9-7
What they need: The Charges could use some help on the interior of their offensive line. They’re also known for drafting top-tier players of Samoan descent, such as Junior Seau and Manti T’eo.
The Pick: OL Manumana “The Slender” (Peter “Navy” Tuiasosopo) — Necessary Roughness (1991)
Scouting Report: As usual, Scott Bakula gets all the glory in idol Necessary Roughness. But that Doug Flutie-lookin’ mook doesn’t make the big, inspirational game-winning pass without a sick block from Manumana.

26. Cleveland Browns

(via Indianapolis Colts)

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2013 Record: 4-12
What they need: Good Lord, the Browns only scored four rushing touchdowns last year? Yeah, they definitely need someone who can take it to the house.
The Pick: RB Earl Megget (Nelly) — The Longest Yard (2005)
Scouting Report: If you want to go and take a ride with Earl, he will reward you with slow-motion jukes, stiff arms, leaps over defenders and any number of other stylish flourishes. He’s coming out of prison, so even Cleveland could be considered an upgrade. (Hey-yo!)

27. New Orleans Saints

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2013 Record: 11-5
What they need: Sure, Drew Brees can slice and dice you any which way, but the Saints need to develop a stronger game off the ground to keep defenses honest.
The Pick: FB Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) — Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
Scouting Report: Everyone’s favorite walking disaster/rebellious heartthrob, Riggins will steal your girlfriend, get into a drunken brawl and show up hungover for practice — all before the end of training camp. And yet we love the guy, and keep letting him back into our hearts. A scrappy underdog player for a scrappy underdog city—the perfect match.

28. Carolina Panthers

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2013 Record: 12-4
What they need: They’ve only got one shot at this: the Panthers need to reload at receiver and draft a player who can run like a bullet.
The Pick: WR Billy Cole (Billy Blanks) — The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Scouting Report: We’re going to level with you: we’re only drafting Cole so we can show you this scene. Just watch it. Then go hug someone you care about.

29. New England Patriots

29Harpo.jpg

2013 Record: 12-4
What they need: Despite their reputation as stodgy professionals on the field, the Patriots haven’t been averse to trotting out surprising trick plays in the past. Lately, however, it feels like the Pats have lost that improvisational swagger. It’s time to bring back some unpredictability to make up for the dwindling number of weapons at Tom Brady’s disposal.
The Pick: Pinky (Harpo Marx) — Horse Feathers (1932)
Scouting Report: A mad genius to rival Bill Belichick, Pinky uses his hyperactive brain to triumph over the brawn of the gridiron. Are yo-yo footballs and horse-drawn chariots illegal in the NFL? Oh, probably. But he’s such a lovable scamp! Can’t we let it slide?

30. San Francisco 49ers

30Deacon.jpg

2013 Record: 12-4
What they need: It’s public knowledge: if you try the best corners in the game with a receiver like Michael Crabtree, the results won’t be pretty. To avoid future embarrassment, the 49ers need a deeper receiving corps.
The Pick: WR Deacon Moss (Michael Irvin) — The Longest Yard (2005)
Scouting Report: This pick allows us to entertain a fascinating bit of alternative history: what if Michael Irvin (or a guy who looks suspiciously like him) played for the 49ers? Could the cosmos handle that sort of reversal? Either way, he’ll look good hauling in passes from Colin Kaepernick.

31. Denver Broncos

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2013 Record: 13-3
What they need: It might be blasphemous to suggest this, but Peyton Manning won’t be around forever. It might behoove the Broncos to pick up another prospect at quarterback.
The Pick: QB Mitch Downe (voice of Casey Affleck) — ParaNorman (2012)
Scouting Report: Michael Sam is poised to become the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL, but Mitch broke down barriers for pop culture quarterbacks by casually coming out at the end of ParaNorman. Bronco-in-chief John Elway is on the record in saying that sexual orientation plays no role in his team’s player evaluation process. And for a team to go from Tim Tebow to a gay QB in the span of a few years—what better sign of progress is there?

32. Seattle Seahawks

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2013 Record: 13-3
What they need: So what do you get the reigning Super Bowl champions, they of the smothering defensive corps and brutally efficient offense? We’re going to have to go above and beyond for this one.
The Pick: NFL SuperPro (aka Phil Grayfield) — Marvel Comics
Scouting Report: NFL SuperPro has a convoluted backstory— instead of just giving him a super-powered football uniform or chemically induced super powers, Marvel decided to give him both. Bottom line: the guy’s really good at football, apparently. Slot him in at any position. Also, he’s known for taking out roid ragers, which could help clean up the Seahawks locker room a bit.

And there you have it! Round One is complete. What say you, avid insert-NFL-team-name-here fan? Disappointed? Think your team would be better off with someone else? Let us know in the comments!

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