NFL Draft 2011: Identifying the Real Fringe Players from This Year's NFL Draft

Dan Van WieContributor IIIApril 12, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: Identifying the Real Fringe Players from This Year's NFL Draft

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    With each passing day, we continue to edge closer to April 28th, and the start of the 2011 NFL Draft. With each show on NFL Network, ESPN or any football show dedicated to the draft, you will undoubtedly hear the phrase, "He is a fringe late round one/early round two pick." Or he is a fringe late round two, early round three pick, etc.

    If you happen to be a fan on the Fox show Fringe, you might find yourself reflecting on the show each time the word fringe gets bandied about. I am a big fan of the show, and while I was trying to figure out a new story for the draft, I thought about the concept of matching each cast character on Fringe to the player in the upcoming draft that they are "most parallel to," which is a key phrase if you are a fan of the show.

    Because since we part of the parallel universes, there has to be a football player who matches up well with the cast members, right? If you are not a fan of the show, this probably will not make sense to you, so you are excused from going further.

    If however, you are a fan of the show, and are into the NFL and the draft, please venture forward. If you have other ideas for matching college players who are draft eligible with Fringe cast members, I would enjoy reading your thoughts. This is meant as a lighter piece, or a comedy piece, so please don't get worked up over this.

FBI Agent Charlie Francis

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    Charlie Francis was part of the FBI team that was assigned to work with agent Olivia Dunham. He was a good guy until he came face-to-face with one of the Shape Shifters. That put an end to his human life, as we knew him.

    Since he was killed off by a Shape Shifter, the Shape Shifter assumed his identity, and everything that Charlie did from that point forward was subject to scrutiny. You know that he was trying to do something evil and couldn't be trusted. It was almost like when the cameras came on him or other FBI agents were around, he would revert back to the good Charlie, but as soon as the cameras or agents went away, he would revert back to his old self.

    Do we know anyone in the draft that seems to appear one way around the cameras, flashes that smile, and answers questions as if they have to go to some distant far-away place to remember what their lines are supposed to be? I think you are starting to get warmer...

Charlie Francis' Counterpart

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    When the cameras aren't on Cam Newton, you are not sure what kind of a face you are going to get. But if you put the red lights on, the million-dollar smile is sure to follow shortly thereafter.

    Will Cam Newton be the next generation of great NFL quarterbacks, or will be the next version of Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell? Will he a be a Shape Shifter, looking great in college and then a mere image of his former self when he hits the NFL?

Massive Dynamics Director Nina Sharp

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    Nina Sharpe, the director of Massive Dynamics, took over when William Bell went missing. She runs the huge technology conglomerate and is a fiery, decisive leader.

    Nina is used to getting her way on things. She likes to win and be out in front and on top of things. Her red hair seems to be a good fit for her fiery personality.

    Who else do we know that has red hair, likes to be a leader and is used to winning?

Nina Sharp's Counterpart

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    If you guessed Andy Dalton, you know your college football and are well on your way towards acing this Fringe test. Please note that I am in no way classifying Dalton as a female, so apologies to his family and to Dalton as well.

    Dalton's career starting record of 42-8 is highly impressive. Just not sure that Nina Sharp ever lost eight times though. That is a topic up for debate.

The Observers

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    The Observers don't appear every week on Fringe, but they do appear often enough that fans of the show know that something big or important is about to happen whenever they are on an episode.

    They have also made random appearances on American Idol and there is usually a sense of mystery about them whenever they appear on the screen.

    There are multiple Observers, so we will list a few players that have the appropriate hair do, or in this case, lack of hair, as their bald domes would fit in quite well. Now as to the part of these players being mysterious, I will leave that up to your imagination.

The Observers' Counterpart

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    There are probably other bald domes that we could have included here, but I did come across James Brewer, the Indiana tackle, who has a nice dome look. He would easily be the largest Observer, and as such might stick out to much in a crowd to be an effective Observer.

    How about Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter? Smaller than Brewer, he might be just fine in that role. If you are aware of other good prospects, please leave a comment.

FBI Special Agent John Scott

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    FBI Agent John Scott was unfortunately killed off in the first season of Fringe. Scott was played by Mark Valley, who has been around long enough now that he has appeared on a number of series and movies as well. Probably best remembered for his long run on Boston Legal.

    What I just learned in doing research for this is that Mark Valley is a West Point graduate, and that he was in Desert Storm. In addition, I learned that in real life he is married to the star of the show, Anna Torv.

    So, what future NFL player is in the draft that will be viewed as a star, with the long flowing blond locks and the Hollywood star image, that teams will be featuring in their future marketing campaigns? Got any good ideas yet?

John Scott's Counterpart

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    Some of these are just too easy. Like lay-up practice. Okay, I promise that there will be some of them that get tougher.

    If you did not guess Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, you either are not spending enough time watching pre-draft shows or you thought that Owen Marecic was going to be a major star in the NFL. 

    Speaking of Marecic...

Sebastian Roche: Leader of the Shape Shifters

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    Sebastian Roche is the despicable character who leads the Shape Shifters on Fringe. His small army goes about killing off key people, and then when they assume their identity, they are capable of learning key information to pass back to Roche, who then relays it to the other side (parallel universe).

    In fairness to his NFL draft counterpart, this player is not thought of to be evil. Rather, he is brought up as a counterpart because as with most Shape Shifters, you aren't really sure what his true identity is.

    Is he a player on offense, or is a player on defense? Is he a running back, or is he a linebacker? Will he a pass catching, lead blocker in the NFL, or will just be a solid special teams performer in his rookie year?

    Any idea of who this Shape Shifter could be? I think I might be guilty of leaving too many clues.

Sebastian Roche's Counterpart

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    Owen Marecic was too easy for this one. One other factor that led me to think of Marecic for the shape shifter leader is that his major at Stanford is Human Biology. Now if that doesn't qualify him to be making an appearance on the Fringe article, than I don't know what would.

    Not only that, but Marecic was on the Academic All-America team, and we all know that Shape Shifters have to be smart or they would never survive too long. Marecic fits the bill in so many ways.

J.J. Abrams

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    J.J. Abrams is the creator of Fringe. He also was credited with creating Lost, another favorite show.

    Besides being a gifted writer and creator, you have to be smart to come up with these shows and spin interesting enough stories to captivate your audience one week to the next, much less from one season to the next.

    Abrams has proven that he has that ability. Fans of Fringe and Lost can point to how each season of the show is different and unique. He keeps you guessing, and that is a mark of a brilliant entertaining show.

J.J. Abrams' Counterpart

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Greg McElroy may not have been the choice people were thinking of, but if you stop to consider what he has accomplished, you might come around to my way of thinking.

    He won a national championship at Alabama. At the NFL scouting combines, he had the highest score on the Wonderlic exam, coming in at an impressive 48 out of 50. His record as a starter at Alabama was 24- 3, which tells me that this kid is a winner.

    McElroy was a marketing major. His dad works for the Dallas Cowboys as an SVP of Sales and Marketing. It sounds like Greg is going to be set for an NFL career, or if he doesn't cut the grade, you have the feeling he will land on his feet just fine.

    Can't say that I know much about his writing abilities, but he is the closest bright player I could find to pair up with J.J. Abrams. If you are aware of a better fit, include your idea in the comments section.

Dr. William Bell

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    Dr. William Bell is the man who started up Massive Dynamics. He discovered the parallel universe and is responsible for taking out some of Dr. Walter Bishop's brain. He ran strange tests on young kids and is somebody that deserves to wear all black, as in a typical bad guy.

    He doesn't really show any remorse for the things he has done, but everything is okay as long as it is done in the name of science, right? Dr. Bell has this role that he appears once in a while, usually at the end of a season to help boost ratings, but he seems to have nine lives.

    His ability to come back and be a cast member even though he was supposed to be gone for good, means that we have to find a football player that by all means should have never come back to play football again, but somehow he did. Somehow he found a way.

Dr. William Bell's Counterpart

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    Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich is one of those feel good stories.

    Herzlich was playing at an elite level as a linebacker for Boston College, until he was diagnosed with cancer.

    Despite the doctors warnings that he probably couldn't play anywhere near the same degree that he once did, Herzlich proved the doctors wrong by coming back and battling through the disease to have a solid season. He is not all the way back yet, but with the will, spirit and competitiveness that he has demonstrated so far, you have to be rooting for this kid.

    He is actually the anti-Dr. Bell, in that he is a good guy. But, like Dr. Bell, he found a way to come back when few thought he ever could.

FBI Director Philip Broyles

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    Dr. Philip Broyles is a tough, no-nonsense FBI Director who is in charge of the Fringe Division. He takes charge and tries to show compassion on occasion, but his job is to see that loose ends are tied up, cases are solved and that they get closer to figuring what the heck is going on in this crazy universe of parallel planets.

    His counterpart will require somebody who gets after it, doesn't have much hair (if any, or at most is sporting a brush cut) and has that mean look that suggests that he is all business. You better not mess with him. I think I have somebody in mind...

Dr. Frank Broyles; Counterpart

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    If we could get Robert Quinn to trim his hair down to reflect a bald dome, I think we would then be looking at the perfect counterpart for Philip Broyles.

    Quinn is cut from the same cloth. High motor, no-nonsense, make plays, get the job done and go about your business. Too bad he missed last year, but he will have a chance to standout now for many years to come.

Special Agent and Researcher Astrid Farnsworth

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    Astrid Farnsworth is also part of the FBI, but her role is that of a lab technician and watch dog to make sure that the crazy Dr. Walter Bishop stays out of trouble.

    Trouble is Astrid can be fairly easily manipulated by Dr. Bishop, so as hard as she tries, she is not always successful at keeping him safe and protected.

    She is smart in the lab though, and her patience is constantly being tested by Dr. Bishop, who asks her to run to the store to pick a very wide array of ingredients that he needs for his experiments, which range from true science to also include the creation of the ultimate milkshake or new brand of ice cream.

Astrid Farnsworth's Counterpart

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Christian Ponder is a very smart young man. He is also an over-achiever.

    Consider the following: Ponder is one of 18 NCAA players who won a $18,000.00 scholarship this year. He serves as the spokesman for his fellow class of scholarship winners.

    Ponder earned his undergraduate degree in two-and-a-half years in Finance with a 3.73 GPA. After that, he decided to go ahead and pick up his MBA, which he did in the following year. Not one to sit still very long, Ponder then proceeded to go after his second graduate degree, this one in Sports Management.

    Ponder is the type of worker and brain who the Fringe Division would love in the lab. He is sure to be a very smart NFL quarterback in the near future.

Fauxlivia (Olivia's Parallel Twin)

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    Olivia Dunham has a twin in the parallel universe. The two switched places for a while, and during the switch, the bad twin "Fauxlivia" managed to get pregnant with Peter Bishop, which I am sure will cause all kinds of future issues between the trio.

    The point is, since we are talking about twins, we now need to find a college player that has a twin, and if the twin is already in the NFL, all the better. Do you have anyone in mind yet?

Fauxlivia's Counterpart

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    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Mike Pouncey has a twin brother, fellow offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey.

    The only difference between the two is that Maurkice has already been starting in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Mike is hoping to be a high draft choice and follow in his footsteps.

    This is the closest pair of twins I could come up with for Olivia Dunham and Fauxlivia. At least they are on the same planet, but it remains to be seen if they wind up playing for the same team, or if they will be playing on behalf of different cities.

Dr. Walter Bishop

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    The crazy doctor. The mad scientist. The nutty professor. However you want to describe him, Dr. Peter Bishop can be brilliant one minute and then absolutely bizarre the next.

    He was placed in a mental ward for many years. Probably didn't help him to have part of his brain removed by his old partner. Anyway, Dr. Bishop is known to have strong cravings at odd times for food, and he will be vocal about receiving his desired food or beverage until his cravings have been satisfied.

    So, I now need to find a player that can at times be brilliant but at times be totally bizarre. Somebody that is highly unpredictable, and you just aren't sure if you can totally rely on him or not.

Dr. Walter Bishop's Counterpart

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Jimmy Smith is one of those first-round talents, but lacks first-round heart or brains. His strange off-the-field choices gives me grounds for naming him as the counterpart for the unpredictable Dr. Walter Bishop.

    His background includes a number of issues that may prove to be his undoing. As per an article on NBC Sports, Smith has tested positive for drugs, been caught possessing alcohol twice as a minor, dodges questions he doesn't like in interviews and decided to pass on being a participant in the Senior Bowl game.

    The issues and concerns appear to be very real, so when teams invite Smith in for a private meeting, he better be taking those appointments very seriously. If not, and he winds up in the second round, he will only have himself to blame. That will then live with him for the rest of his life.

Peter Bishop

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    Peter Bishop is one of the two main stars on Fringe. He was an international explorer to a degree, and was usually getting in to hot water wherever he went.

    Bishop means well, and shows tremendous patience when dealing with his father. But his place in this show was created by his father, so bloodlines play an important role in his situation.

    He is brave, smart and observant, but is known to want to goof off now and then and is not above causing a little trouble.

Peter Bishop's Counterpart

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    We go to Ohio State to find the counterpart for Peter Bishop by selecting Cam Heyward.

    Heyward is the pick because he has the family genes going for him, son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward. He is known to go missing for several plays a game, and is dealing with injuries where he is not always 100 percent.

    Heyward is a gifted and powerful athlete, so he should have a reasonably productive NFL career. Too bad his dad is not around to see it, unless he is in a parallel place and able to watch his son from afar.

Special Agent Olivia Dunham

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    Olivia Dunham is a Special Agent assigned to the Fringe Division. She was in fact one of the young children that Dr. Walter Bishop experimented on many years ago. She has unique gifts or talents as a result of the experiments that were done on her.

    She can go back and forth between the parallel universes. She can appear out of the blue in a split second. She is tenacious, brave, small in stature, but very big in heart. She will do anything that her job requires her to do and then some. She is willing and able to put her fears aside for the good of the FBI.

    She will be the hardest person to find a counterpart for, but if you guess who I came up with before going to the next slide, you should consider yourself a true NFL draft guru and a Fringe expert.

    One hint. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network absolutely fell in love with this kid at the NFL scouting combines.

Olivia Dunham's Counterpart

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    Shiloh Keo of Idaho was the darling of the secondary day at the NFL scouting combines. He wound up getting ringing endorsements from Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and from Mike Mayock.

    He isn't big for a safety at all, 5'11", and weighs only 219 pounds. But he has tremendous heart and a willingness to throw his body all over the place to make plays with no regard for his own personal safety.

    He ran the slowest 40 time for his group, but had the fastest time in both the 20-yard shuttle race and in the three-cone drill. He will volunteer for any role you need help on with special yeams, and that is where he will make his mark in the NFL. 

    He will prove to ultimately be very valuable to his NFL team, just as Olivia Dunham proves to be to Fringe.

Any Ideas for Gene the Cow?

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    I wanted to also include a couple slides of the cow on the show, which actually goes by the name of Gene. But when I realized that it might be very difficult to come up with a reasonably accurate counterpart to Gene coming out of the upcoming NFL Draft class, I opted to table the idea.

    If you have a solid idea, we would love to hear it.

    That is the presentation, hope you enjoyed this little break from the usual NFL draft grind. Thanks for taking the time to go through the presentation.