2009 NFL Mock Draft: The Friday Night Lights Edition
Full disclosure: I'm a huge fan of the football television drama "Friday Night Lights," inspired by the movie, and Buzz Bissinger book, of the same name.
Sure, the show features a bunch of twentysomething actors portraying high school students, and the Dillon Panthers (the fictional team the show is based on) tend to win pretty much every game on the last play, but the writing, acting, and football are compelling, and the show makes for great TV.
With news that the show may get picked up for two more seasons, and with the NFL Draft approaching, I thought I'd create an "FNL" mock draft.
The following is a breakdown of where "FNL" characters (from the television and the film versions) would be picked in the 2009 draft.
On to the first pick...
1. Detroit Lions - QB Matt Saracen (TV)
If you're going to be under center for a team that went 0-16 last season, you need to be ready for rejection and disappointment.
Is there anyone that's been figuratively crapped on more than Matt Saracen?
The guy's been doubted, written off, benched (twice), dumped (twice), deserted by both of his parents, and he spends his free time waiting for his dementia-struck grandma to lose the few marbles she has left.
Now THAT is a man mentally prepared to spend his weekdays living in Detroit, and his weekends getting thrown to the turf in front of fans wearing paper bags over their heads.
Forget Stafford. No need for Sanchez. Saracen is the only guy ready to start for the Lions.
2. St. Louis Rams - SS Brian Chavez (Film)
When Marc Bulger is your quarterback, you need to accept that you're not going to score much on offense.
That's why the Rams should draft Chavez, who puts Ed Reed to shame in the pick-six department. The guy's about 5'8"/150 pounds, but almost every time he touches the ball, he scores.
If Chavez can score three touchdowns during a two-hour movie, imagine what he can do over a full season.
3. Kansas City Chiefs - RB Brian "Smash" Williams
In Williams, the Chiefs get the solid running back they'll need when Larry Johnson goes down with his annual Week Four injury.
Smash worked well with perennial-backup-QB-turned-starter Matt Saracen at Dillon High, so he should be a great fit to work with perennial-backup-QB-turned-starter Matt Cassel in Kansas City.
4. Seattle Seahawks - QB Julie Taylor (TV)
OK -- No. 4 may seem a bit early for the Coach Taylor's 17-year-old daughter, but she's been around football her whole life, dates a quarterback, and played quarterback herself in the first season's "Powder Puff" episode.
Plus, anyone who watches "FNL" knows that Julie's mainly known for whining: whining about wanting a car, whining about her over protective parents, whining about being grounded, etc.
That's what makes Seattle a great match. Seahawks fans are still whining about the two questionable calls in Super Bowl XL against the Steelers.
Julie's outlook on life should resonate with the Seattle fan base.
5. Cleveland Browns - DE Ivory Christian (Film)
Last year, the Browns were plagued by people within the franchise running their mouths.
Kellen Winslow complained about how the team handled the staph infection breakout; Braylon Edwards complained about fans ridiculing his inability to catch the ball; and even GM Phil Savage berated a fan via email.
Winslow and Savage are gone, but the Browns could still use someone that knows how to keep his mouth shut.
Christian says about 14 syllables over the two-hour "FNL" film, and most of those are battle cries as he's dragging opposing players to the ground.
An added bonus: Christian has never punched his quarterback in the face, which is more than at least one of the Browns' defensive linemen can say.
6. Cincinnati Bengals - TE Santiago Herrera (TV)
Herrera would enter Bengals camp with something in common with a lot of his Cincinnati teammates: he's a convicted felon. Nothing breaks the ice like exchanging stories about breaking the law.
Plus, with T.J. Houshmandzadeh leaving for Seattle, Carson Palmer could use a new third-down target.
Worst case scenario, Herrera gets mixed up in legal problems again, the Bengals drop him, and then proceed to pick him back up (also known as the Chris Henry approach).
7. Oakland Raiders - Coach Eric Taylor (TV)
If there's a head coach out there who can put up with Al Davis, it's Eric Taylor.
His every move is scrutinized, he's ridiculed after each loss, and no matter how much he wins, it's never enough. Granted, Taylor has always had a quarterback who can put a little touch on the ball, but he can probably win with JaMarcus Russell, too.
(Fully aware teams can't draft coaches, but with limited characters, I had to get a little creative).
8. Jacksonville Jaguars - OL Guy Raston (TV)
Who is this shirtless guy? He's the man the Jaguars need to take the attention off troubled wide receiver Matt Jones.
Raston, also known as Tim Riggins' temporary gun-toting, meth-cooking roommate during season two of "FNL," isn't a football player, but he's capable of doing things a lot dumber than Jones has ever done, taking the spotlight off the oft-suspended receiver.
9. Green Bay Packers - FB Don Billingsley (Film)
He's a bit of an emotional wreck (his abusive, alcoholic dad doesn't help) but Billingsley is just the kind of mop-haired, blue collar kind of guy Packers fans would love.
He only gets about 2.8 yards per carry, but that's a lot better than Ryan Grant gained on several Sundays in 2008.
10. San Francisco 49ers - QB Ray Tatum
Alex Smith, Trent Dilfer, J.T. O'Sullivan, Shaun Hill...all of these guys have spent time at quarterback for the 49ers over the past few years, and none of them have managed to intimidate opponents.
Enter Ray Tatum.
Tatum is a quarterback who can win with his legs or his arm, and his cold, menacing stare puts the fear into a lot of players (including his own teammates and coaches).
Sure, he tends to play by his own rules, but his behavior is nothing 49ers coach Mike Singletary would drop his pants at.
11. Buffalo Bills - FB Tim Riggins (TV)
Anyone who's seen a mugshot of Buffalo running back Marshawn Lynch (you know what I'm talking about, fantasy football players), knows his looks are about as good as his driving record.
If the Bills draft heartthrob Riggins, they get a solid blocker, a good player (when sober), and a good-looking guy to compensate for Lynch's terrifying grin.
Granted, the easily impressionable Riggins may not survive a night out on the town with Lynch and T.O., but it'll be great while it lasts.
12. Denver Broncos - RB James Miles
Miles is coming off a season-ending injury, but what Denver back isn't?
Peyton Hillis, Ryan Torain,...name a Denver back, and he missed at least a part of last season.
As long as this pick doesn't make Jay Cutler upset, it's a good move for the Broncos.
13. Washington Redskins - Coach Gary Gaines (Film)
Nothing against Jim Zorn, but his mopey "I'm the worst coach in America" speech was one of the lower moments in press conference history.
Washington needs a coach who knows how to motivate his players, and that's Coach Gaines.
His speeches are epic, his play calling is solid, and word on the street is that he provides some levity in the locker room with a mean "Sling Blade" impersonation.
14. New Orleans Saints - RB Chris Comer (Film)
After James "Boobie" Miles went down with a season-ending injury, Comer stepped up and filled the void, becoming a star himself.
Assuming Reggie Bush goes down with injury problems in 2009 (hint: he will), Comer's a great guy for the Saints to have on the bench to step into the starting role.
15. New England Patriots (from Hou) - LB Landry Clarke (TV)
Just to prove that he can win with any player at any position, New England coach Bill Belichick trades a second rounder to the Houston Texans to snag Landry Clarke, a third-string linebacker whose biggest accomplishment over two years of football is forcing a fumble on a kickoff.
Granted, Clarke is dating someone infinitely more attractive than he is, so maybe he was meant to be a football star after all.
16. Minnesota Vikings (from SD) - QB Jason Street (TV)
Desperate for a quarterback with any kind of big game experience, the Vikings trade a 2010 pick to the Chargers to move up to the 16th pick to grab Jason Street.
Although he's paralyzed from the waist down, fans are convinced Street is a better option than Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels at quarterback.
17. New York Jets - QB Mike Winchell (Film)
Following the Brett Favre roller coaster that was the 2008 season, the Jets need a stabilizing force in the locker room, meaning Winchell's the logical pick.
He does what he's told, he's a good leader, and is a perfect fit for the new no-nonsense Jets.
18. Chicago Bears - FS Bobby Reyes
For years, the Bears' defense was considered the best in the league, but following a combination of injuries and losing players to free agency, the Bears' defense isn't the feared unit it was three years ago.
Hot-headed Reyes could change that.
Known for his anger management issues, Reyes is a hard hitter, and with Mike Brown leaving Chicago, there's room in the secondary for the young safety.
As long as coach Lovie Smith can keep Reyes from letting his rage fly off the field, the Bears should be in good shape.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - QB J.D. McCoy (TV)
After last year's platoon of Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese at quarterback, it's time for the Bucs to go younger at the QB position...much younger.
High school freshman J.D. McCoy may be nine months removed from eighth grade, but he throws a great deep ball.
20. Detroit Lions - Fan Grandma Saracen (TV)
There aren't any players left on the draft board, but that doesn't stop the Lions from drafting something they desperately need with their second first round pick: a fan.
Thanks to her dementia and unconditional love for all things football, Grandma Saracen is one of the few people who are still optimistic about the Lions' season.
I'm out of characters, but I hope you enjoyed the FNL mock draft.
If you're a fan of the show, keep wishing for more seasons, and if you haven't checked it out yet, what are you waiting for?