How do you grade your prospects? Oh sure, 40 times and tape matter. But nothing beats a great football name. Or just an interesting or unusual one. After all, that means more than your silly talent and athleticism and all that gobbledygook, amiright?
Name has game, so we set out to find the best available “talent” — no stone (not even Eastern Illinois S Tyree Stone-Davis) left unturned — in Shutdown Corner’s Inaugural All-Name Draft Team. If you’re eligible for the 2017 NFL draft, you have a shot here. How cool is that: You don’t even have to be that good of a prospect.
Straight up, our team took a massive hit when Washington’s Psalm Wooching opted to pursue his rugby dreams in lieu of a shot at the NFL, and his teammate Vita Vea returned to school for another season.
And next year’s team could be downright scary. Notre Dame alone has three incredible offerings: Montgomery VanGorder, Greer Martini and — surely a future Draft Name Team Hall of Famer — Equanimeous St. Brown (born Equanimeous Tristen Imhotep J. St. Brown). Others to keep in mind a year from now: San Diego State WR Quest Truxton, Washington State DT Hercules Mata’afa, Purdue OG Bearooz Yacoobi and Charlotte OT Wolfgang Zacherl all have spots nearly locked up.
But even without their services, the class of 2017 is in decent shape in its own right. And unlike Hingle McCringleberry of Key & Peele fame, these guys are all real and just want their shot at the next level. They might not all make it in the NFL, but they have a place on our beloved roster.
Quarterback — Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
Think of all your great cinematic quarterback names: Shane Falco, Paul Crewe, Lance Harbor, Cap Rooney, Johnny Utah, Willie Beaman … they just sounded cool. And they sounded like quarterbacks. Kiel just has that QB ring to it. It’s too bad his best football seemed to be years ago. Time to reload.
Running back — Rushel Shell, West Virginia
It’s oddly hard to say his name. Like, how long a pause do you give after the first “shel?” It just sounds strange to say the word two times in a row. But anyway, he’s our bellcow. (Of note: Shell has a son, Prince, and two daughters, Arionna and Amiyah. They’re part of the team, unofficially.)
Fullback — Taz Zettergren, Ole Miss
“Mr. Zettergren? Oh, no, no, please. That’s my father. Call me Taz.”
Exceptional nickname potential here. The obvious one first: Tazmanian Devil. But you also could work off the rare double-Z cluster and the handful of words in English that incorporate it — blizzard, gizzard, sizzle and, the ultimate Scrabble grand slam, pizzazz. Instant fan fave.
(Runner up: Maximo Espitia, Portland State. He lands on our practice squad.)
Wide receiver — River Cracraft, Washington State
Named after a popular model of pontoon, and a hit with the ladies we suspect. Every girl wants to tell their friends that they’re dating a dude named River.
Wide receiver — Edgar Allen Poe, Army
Would be poetic justice if the Baltimore Ravens gave him a shot. And, yes, the middle name is Allen, not Allan. He just beats out Speedy Noil, Bug Howard, Bobo Wilson and Jhajuan Seales.
Tight end — Jake Butt, Michigan
Offensive tackle — Max Rich, Harvard
Of course a guy with a tycoon’s name went to Harvard. Better than naming your kid Whit Poor and sending him to the state school, for sure.
Offensive tackle — Storm Norton, Toledo
A Storm is coming to this team.
Offensive guard — Jessamen Dunker, Tennessee State
He’s 318 pounds, once stole a scooter and he’s … a Dunker. We’re fans of doughnuts and basketball, so we’ll take him.
Offensive guard — Mario Yakoo, Boise State
He can come work at our website anytime he wants. Close enough.
Center — Barrett Gouger, Vanderbilt
Such a baller name for a gnarly offensive lineman. Will cause opposing nose tackles to wear those clear visors over their facemasks out of fear of losing an eye. (Also of note: His hometown is Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee.)
Defensive lineman — Dee Liner, Arkansas State
You can’t make this up. Momma didn’t raise no slot receivers.
Defensive lineman — Lyndon Johnson, Louisville
Stick to sports? Never. Johnson narrowly defeats Illinois’ Gimel President in the Electoral College, though not in the popular vote.
Defensive lineman — Taco Charlton, Michigan
No, we didn’t forget him. And actually, his real name — Vidaunte — has just as much spice to us. Another Illini, Chunky Clemons, lands on the chopping block.
Linebacker — Ironhead Gallon, Georgia Southern
Straight out of the central casting LB name generator.
Linebacker — Charmeachealle Moore, Kansas State
He’s actually a Junior, son of the late Charmeachealle Moore, who played football at Baylor in the early 1990s. Pronunciation: sure-MIKE-you-well.
Linebacker — Folarin Orimolade, Dartmouth
Better known to Big Green faithful as “Flo,” he’s actually a darned good FCS football player and has a shot to make an NFL roster. But on our team, he’s a Day 1 starter.
Linebacker — Johnny Ragin III, Oregon
He can go all night.
Cornerback — Corn Elder, Miami (Fla.)
If we have a D-lineman named Dee Liner, we sure as heck need a corner named Corn, which was taken from his father’s name, Cornelius. When Corn has his firstborn son, we recommend he change the kid’s last name: to Younger.
Cornerback — Mike Tyson, Cincinnati
Ear-bitingly good cover guy.
Safety — Weston Steelhammer, Air Force
We’ve been patiently waiting for him to exhaust his eligibility for some time now. This one is No. 1 overall pick material. He might not be surpassed until there’s a nickelback from the Citadel named Poseidon Waterwalker.
If your last name is Steelhammer and your parents name you, oh, I don’t know … Reuben or Gino or Maury, you just curse them every day of your life for what might have been. Thankfully, the Steelhammers were a visionary clan, not about to waste that opportunity, and their son has the rare name that also could pass as an F. Scott Fitzgerald character, a WWE anti-hero and an adult film star. Plus, Steelhammer is a ginger, which only adds to his aura.
Beating out Kansas’ Fish Smithson for a spot on this team is no minor achievement, but landing here was Steelhammer’s birthright.
Safety — Money Hunter, Arkansas State
The son of former major-league outfielder Torii Hunter’s birth name is Monshadrik. It’s stunning that the NCAA — on principle alone — didn’t suspend him for life going by Money Hunter.
Kicker — Younghoe Koo, Georgia Southern
The name gets him on the team. This keeps him on it.
Punter — Hunter Windmuller, William & Mary
We suspect his father, Erich, was a roadie for Zeppelin in the 70s and the inspiration for the song, “Misty Mountain Hop.” We just can’t verify that, sadly.
Kick returner — Brisly Estime, Syracuse
Had a 74-yard return against Notre Dame this past season, but who cares? His name carries the real — oh, yeah — esteem.
Long snapper — Will Few, Ole Miss
No truth to the rumor that his nickname is “Bounce-a.”
Special-teams ace — Vegas Harley, Georgia Southern
Running down kicks on The Strip with the wind in his hair.
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