Any Given Draft Day: Comparing 2014 NFL draft prospects to fictional quarterbacks
I present you with the greatest QB comparison ever. An AFC North coach compared Bridgewater to...Willie Beaman. I'm not making this up.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 14, 2014
Said coach RE: Bridgewater, "He's a dynamic playmaker, but is he the guy you want running your offense? They're very similar."
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 14, 2014
In a pre-draft process that has become more and more vile and nefarious for its blindside hits from anonymous NFL scouts, coaches and executives, this was the comedic capper. And knowing Matt as I do, I have no doubt that there is actually a coach in the AFC North who compared Teddy Bridgewater -- a player who may be the top quarterback prospect in this year's draft class -- to the fictional quarterback in Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday. Besides, with anonymity comes impunity, and with impunity comes stupidity, so ... there you go.
But this got us thinking: What other 2014 draftable quarterbacks could we compare to fictional quarterbacks? After all, if we're just going to throw legitimate scouting observations out the window in our dealings with the media, why the heck not? So, for your edification, here are six more possible comps. We encourage you to watch and re-watch the movies featuring the fictional quarterbacks involved. Because apparently, it sure beats watching tape and talking about it!
"Steamin'" Willie Beamen, Any Given Sunday: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville (Well, not really)
Well, no. But let's take this at face value. Beamen's predilection for throwing up in the huddle makes a Donovan McNabb comparison far more ... umm ... palatable. And as far as we know, Bridgewater never claimed to have "invisible juice," or had to be read the riot act by Lawrence "Shark" Taylor. Yes, the mobility is similar, and the arm is similar, but I'll give Bridgewater the serious advantage when it comes to the little things -- he sees the field far better, he's more efficient in his overall motions, and again -- he's never had to be upbraided by everyone in his life before he figured it out. Beamen is more of an early Cam Newton to me, at least on the field. And off the field? Well, we'll leave that to the anonymous voices.
Jonathan "Mox" Moxon, Varsity Blues: AJ McCarron, Alabama
OK -- on to the comparisons that make sense. Like Mox, McCarron won with a lot of talent around him. Like Mox, McCarron benefitted from talented receivers and backs, and some behemoths on the offensive line (Billy Bob would have been a perfect right tackle for the Crimson Tide). Like Mox, McCarron is a physically unimposing player who does everything reasonably well, nothing spectacular, and works well within a system. And like Mox, McCarron played for a control-freak coach. Bud Kilmer and Nick Saban are both autocratic and yelly, and very much prefer that the system bends to them. Mox got into Brown and looked for a life beyond football. McCarron will hit the NFL, and will most likely have to look for life beyond a starting job.
Paul Crewe, The Longest Yard: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Sorry, no Adam Sandler movie version here -- that only works if you wouldn't take Johnny Football in the first three rounds of the draft. We'll stick with Paul Crewe as played by Burt Reynolds, the original and best. Manziel is obviously far more mobile than Crewe, though Crewe did his fictional thing back in 1974, and quarterback mobility was still seen as a negative then. Still, Crewe did have a nice run to the right (and the left) on the game's deciding score. Manziel and Crewe both court controversy, and do things very much their own way. And given his YOLO attitude, we wouldn't be at all surprised if Manziel has considered throwing a couple passes right in an angry defender's ... well, you know what.
Randall "Pink" Floyd, Dazed and Confused: Tom Savage, Pitt
We're lining these two guys up because, as Pink became the man about campus through his high school years, Savage has become the belle of the pre-draft ball in recent days. That's curious, because outside of his rocket arm, there isn't much to go on when projecting Savage as an immediate NFL prospect. He's inconsistent at best, so those who believe in him have to be going on faith -- which is what we had to do with Pink. Because outside of the "Marijuana on one!" scene, we didn't actually see him play football. And as he transferred from Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt, it's possible that Savage shares Pink's general antipathy toward coaches who try to get him to sign pieces of paper.
Matt Saracen, Friday Night Lights: Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
Poor Saracen. His family life was difficult at best, and he was thrown into it after Jason Street's tragic injury. He got the tar beaten out of him, which led to some jittery moments, but he also managed to do great things. He wasn't a popular kid until he was able to get it done on the field, which mirrors Garoppolo's story quite nicely. Garoppolo went to Tony Romo's old school and was barely a blip on the radar until he won the Walter Payton award and looked pretty good at the Senior Bowl. But Garoppolo still has his balky moments in and out of the pocket, and like Saracen did at Dillon High, he'll be fighting for a spot when he hits the NFL. Both players are tough kids who have worked hard to overcome their physical limitations. For Garoppolo, however, the existence of a similarly-inspiring Julie Taylor is unknown.
Shane Falco, The Replacements: Zach Mettenberger, LSU
"Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever." Shane Falco believed that, and rode that mantra to a playoff berth with his Washington Sentinels. And like Falco, Mettenberger is a pocket quarterback with a rocket arm and limited mobility who benefited from a pro-style passing game in his most recent season. And in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, it's a pretty sure bet that Mettenberger had better targets than did Mr. Falco. Would LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron run "Shotgun, DC Right, Flip 90 Dig on the center?" As long as it's a three-vertical concept with no crossing routes. Mettenberger will have to find ways to stay active in the pocket if he wants to avoid Falco's fate, though -- the modern NFL is not made for slow-footed signal-callers.
Paul Blake, Necessary Roughness: Aaron Murray, Georgia
Texas State University responded to its unfortunate death penalty by bringing 34-year-old Paul Blake onto the roster. Blake was the reliable cog for the Fightin' Armadillos -- a bastion of consistency in a season that threatened to fall apart in all kinds of ways. And Murray, while not of Blake's age just yet (he'll be 24 in November, and a Brandon Weeden comp would have worked much better), has been a similarly important rock. He's not physically impressive, and may be relegated to backup status at the next level, but 121 touchdowns to 41 picks in the SEC is nothing to sneeze at. He finished his collegiate career with the conference record for passes, passing yards, passing touchdowns and total yards, which is almost as remarkable as playing on the same team as Kathy Ireland. Sorry, Mr. Murray -- Advantage: Blake.