I am fully man enough to admit that I basically stole this idea. I read the Quarterback Dundies and got really jealous that I didn’t think of something witty like that. Then earlier today the idea of comparing everyone to a Star Wars character popped into my mind. So, yes, I am a fraud, but, for the record, Eric Galko, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
So here is my attempt at comparing some of the different quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft to characters in the Star Wars Universe.
Sam Darnold – Rey
Like Rey, Darnold found out about his super powers approximately 17 seconds ago and is already jockin on fools. Sam Darnold was a receiver (or tight end, I forget) and a linebacker from a young age through most of his sophomore year of high school. With two games left in his sophomore year, the starting quarterback on Sam’s team sustained an injury, so they replaced him with Darnold.
Darnold then went into his junior year as the starter, played two games, and broke his ankle. He missed the remainder of his junior year. It wasn’t until his senior year that he played an entire season of football as a starting quarterback.
Then he red shirted at USC, played his red shirt freshman season, led USC to a Rose Bowl championship over Saquon Barkley and Penn State, and started getting mega hype as the sure fire #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Rey, who discovered she might have a Force connection because Luke’s old lightsaber called to her earlier that afternoon, found herself face to face with Kylo Ren. Ren was doing his thought extract brain reading thing with his (we thought) unmatched Force powers, until Rey turns his own trick around and sees Ren’s deepest insecurities!! Ren then storms away to go bitch to Snoke about how powerful Rey is.
Still trapped by being belted onto a vertical table, Rey thinks to herself “hey, maybe I can Jedi mind trick someone and get out of here.” Why on earth Rey, at that point in time, would know that Jedi mind tricking someone is a thing that Jedi’s can do is anyone’s wildest guess, but she figured she would try. So she then successfully convinces the storm trooper standing guard to remove her restraints, leave the room with the door open, and then throws in that the storm trooper will leave his weapon behind as well. Her plan worked, and Rey escapes. And she didn’t just trick any old storm trooper, that storm trooper was James Freakin’ Bond!
So then Darnold goes on, in his redshirt sophomore year, to throw for the most yards in a single season in USC history. I don’t know if you know all the quarterbacks that have gone through USC, but that’s kind of a big deal.
Darnold didn’t even really know he was a quarterback until he was a senior in high school and here he is as a redshirt sophomore breaking school records after having already stared down, and defeated, Saquon Barkley and his super powers.
Josh Rosen – Darth Vader
Ok, first of all, Josh Rosen’s nickname is literally The Chosen One. He is, by far, the most naturally gifted passer in this class. He is smart, accurate, has arm strength, and can already throw into anticipatory windows. He has been anointed as a future quarterback stud since he was a boy.
Plus, if you believe all the reporting about how he is an annoying, whiny, know-it-all kid that thinks he is too smart for everyone and doesn’t need any training, then the Anakin comparison is just self-evident.
So why Vader? Because Anakin was raw, and not fully trained. Josh Rosen has been getting professional level coaching for years, and is so polished he could step on the field day one and lead an NFL team to a victory.
He also gets labeled as a douche. But he is a douche who is so god damn talented he is probably going to win. So even though you hate the idea of Vader, in the middle of battle you might think to yourself, “hey, that guy sucks, but he is so freakin good at this, and I really don’t wanna die, so I think I can just swallow my pride here grab some storm trooper gear.”
Also Anakin/Vader has other interests outside of the Force. Rosen might fall in the draft because god forbid he reads a book written by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Yoda was steadfast against Anakin getting trained because Anakin was full of emotion since he loved and missed his mom. And the Jedi Council refuses to let Jedi date because then their judgement will become clouded by all these dangerous feelings. Feelings of love, like how Anakin/Vader loves his mom and Padme. Padme’s terminal illness led to the birth of Vader, because he needed to learn the dark arts of the Force. He needed to learn the dark side. Yea, that sounds like an interest outside of what the Jedi Council wants anyone to learn.
For the record, Josh Rosen, Vader became ridiculously powerful and the second in command in the entire galaxy and then STILL went on to fulfill the prophecy and destroy the Emperor while bringing balance to the Force even though he took a detour by becoming a Sith lord. So you keep learning about whatever you wanna learn about and keep putting hot tubs in your dorm room.
Baker Mayfield – Han Solo
If you just observe Mayfield from the outside on game day, you will think he is just an arrogant, self-centered douche. He also got drunk and tried to run away from a cop before getting tackled on the cement, which basically makes Mayfield a criminal.
When we first meet Han, we only know he is a smuggler (criminal), arrogant, and self centered. When the lives of the entire galaxy are in jeopardy, Luke begs Han to stay and fight with them to try to destroy the Empire and the Death Star. Han, having just gotten paid handsomely for the successful rescue of Princess Leia, is all like “nah kid, I got my money and I’m just trying to live to see another day. Don’t care about any of y’all.”
Oh, and how did Han even come about rescuing Leia? It was a complete accident. Han and company just happened to end up on the Death Star, and then when Luke realizes Leia is onboard and proposing rescuing her, Han is completely against the idea. In fact, when Luke tries to convince Han a rescue mission is necessary because “they’re gonna kill her,” Han’s response is, “better her than me!”
Then Luke, in his infinite wisdom (I say this since he met Han like 12 seconds ago and already knows how to appeal to him) tells Han that Leia is rich. She’s a princess, she’s got money, if we rescue her, it is a huge pay day dude. So Han gets down with the rescue operation.
But the more you get to know him, the more you realize he is a team player. Han comes back and saves Luke’s life at the end of the original film, and then formally joins the rebellion. He ends up caring deeply for Luke, Leia, R2D2 and even C3PO despite finding 3PO absolutely insufferable. He even sacrifices himself to Lando and Vader by getting frozen in carbonite so that Leia, Chewy, and 3PO will be unharmed. Also, when Leia says “I love you,” for the first time, Han says “I know.” I can totally see Baker doing this.
And once you get to know Baker, you realize he is a good guy. He is launching up draft boards right now because this is what teams are saying after they meet with him. Also, when Dede Westbrook was a first year player at Oklahoma, he didn’t own a car and lived far from campus. He showed up 10 minutes late to practice every day his first week. This prompted Baker Mayfield to go up to Dede and say, “dude if you keep being late you’re gonna get cut. Give me your address, give me your phone number, I’m gonna make sure you’re never late again.”
For the rest of the season Baker Mayfield took a half hour detour on his way to campus, every day, just to make sure his teammate wasn’t late and didn’t end up getting cut. He would wait around for Dede at the end of the day too, if Dede had a late class or something, and give Dede a ride home. Baker cares man. Deep down, Baker cares.
And by the way, Baker Mayfield doesn’t have time for any of this “Force” bullshit. He doesn’t give a damn about being 6’5″, having a laser rocket arm, or playing college football in a pro-style system. He looks at your checklist and tells you to go fuck yourself. He is coming out fierce, guns blazing, impassioned and purposeful, and he never, ever, ever loses. He is a cowboy, a leader of men.
Josh Allen – Boba Fett
Boba Fett gets hyped up as this really cool character that is pretty impressive, but what, exactly, has Boba Fett ever really accomplished? Boba Fett, a bounty hunter, shows up in the middle of The Empire Strikes Back and is told of the bounty on the Millennium Falcon, follows them to Cloud City, tells Vader Han and Co. are there, and then Vader shows up and handles everything. Vader corners Lando, explains how this trap is going to go down, freezes Han amid protests from Fett because it might kill Han, and then once he is pleased and is ready to move on his primary target, Luke Skywalker, he allows Boba Fett to take Han back to Jabba because Vader doesn’t have time for this shit anymore.
So Boba Fett does nothing in terms of actually capturing Han, or Luke for that matter, so maybe he will be of use to Jabba? Nope. When Jabba sentences everyone to death and Boba Fett is there to make sure everything goes smoothly, Boba Fett dies in like, five seconds. Once Luke starts the escape plan and the fighting ensues, Boba Fett starts fighting back, then tries to fly to a different platform using his jetpack, and just crashes and falls into the mouth of the Sarlacc. Having a jetpack that let’s him fly is the one thing that makes Boba Fett like kinda cool, and he just flew straight into his own death. Boba Fett is fucking uselss.
Josh Allen can’t hit the ocean from a boat. He can’t make plays on schedule, he can’t dominate lower level competition, he can’t be not atrocious against high level competition, he can’t read a defense or recognize a blitz. But he has this one cool thing, an absolute rocket launcher of a right arm, so everyone is infatuated with the idea of what he could become. Just like Star Wars fans like the idea of Boba Fett, you’re better of just letting Vader handle things.
Mason Rudolph – C3PO
The way Mason Rudolph ran the Oklahoma State offense is absolutely robotic. I mean, that offense is basically a real life video game. When you draft Rudolph, you’ll get someone that is really smart with incredible memory recall, he is hardwired to do the things that he does, he isn’t very mobile, he is technically proficient, and he definitely benefits from having a high end supporting cast.
C3PO is also annoying as fuck. It’s not that watching Rudolph play is infuriating, it’s trying to project him that is infuriating. He makes all these gorgeous downfield passes but then you realize James Washington just blew by everyone. He runs his offense to perfection but it is a gimmick offense playing against Big-12 defenses. He doesn’t have an elite arm and the ball can wane sometimes when he tries to drive it, or fall short on a deep route. He is accurate, but he is presented with a lot of open windows.
His contribution is invaluable though. And when gun slingers like Baker Mayfield are trying to navigate astroid fields, Rudolph is there letting him know the odds are 3,720 to 1 of successfully doing so. Mayfield would then probably tell Rudolph to shut the hell up and never tell him the odds, but Rudolph would process that information and then just move onto his next read.
Lamar Jackson – Kylo Ren
How many times have you heard that if the proper coach can tap into Lamar Jackson’s potential and build around his strengths, the sky is the limit? Well, look at how freakin powerful Kylo Ren is and he isn’t even fully trained.
Ren has done stuff we have never seen a force user do. He pulls your thoughts out of your brain with his mind. He doesn’t just force choke you, he force grabs your neck from across the room and brings your neck to his hand so he can real life choke you. He got hit by Chewy’s crossbow, which obliterates mere humans, and just pounded his chest and kept coming at you.
Weird old guy Snoke (who is so fucking irrelevant. Thanks a lot, Disney) can read your thoughts when you’re on the other side of the galaxy in a place that is hidden so well Luke Skywalker has been hiding there for 10 years and no one has any idea where he is. But when in the same room as Kylo Ren, Ren masked his thoughts, force rotated a lightsaber to aim it at Snoke, and then turned on the lightsaber and cut Snoke in half. I mean, talk about raw talent and upside.
Lamar Jackson’s athleticism at the position can only be compared to Michael Vick’s, and even then they’re not really the same. Vick was just so freaky he would dance around behind the line for an hour and after five guys were on the ground from missing the tackle, he would take off running for a 30 yard gain. Jackson isn’t freaky in a shifty way like Vick, but he is an explosive downhill runner in the way an elite running back would be.
In an NFL where RPO’s just led a team to a Super Bowl, the modern professional offense is moving to meet Lamar Jackson half way. Jackson’s original teacher, Bobby Petrino, did him well as the Cardinals ran pro route concepts while utilizing RPO’s and read-options. Ren’s original teacher, Luke Skywalker, did him well until a very momentary lapse led to Luke betraying Ren and Ren running to Snoke. Ren then embraces the dark side.
If Lamar Jackson’s next coach is anything like Snoke, Jackson is doomed. Snoke uses Ren for his power and doesn’t know how to really train him or play to Ren’s strengths. Jackson needs a forward thinking coach, someone willing to cater the offense around Jackson.
Also, Ren’s lightsaber is red and Louisville wears red. This stuff seriously writes itself.
Luke Falk – Princess Leia
Is there anyone more boring than Princess Leia? (Actually yes. Padme, definitely Padme) It’s not entirely her fault, which I’ll get more into in a second, but what does Leia really even do? We first see her get captured by Vader, bleh, and then next we see her she is refusing to give up information while she gets tortured by some horribly painful looking device. Yea, it’s pretty badass she doesn’t tell Vader what he wants to know, but we don’t even get to see it, we just have to imagine it as the movie cuts to something else after we see the torture droid.
Then she gets rescued and literally complains the entire time. After that, she spends the rest of the original three movies pretty much just screaming “LUKE!” developing her love/hate relationship with Han, and getting her hair braided by Ewoks.
Oh, and George Lucas gave absolutely zero fucks about developing her character or backstory. We immediately learned that Leia was the leader of some rebel resistance and a princess, and then learned nothing new about her until Return of the Jedi, when she says she was really young when her mother died and that, oh yea, she’s Luke’s freakin’ sister.
This is disturbingly similar to the story of Luke Falk. Luke Falk is up at Washington State, just doing his own thing, destroying people through this air-raid offense, and no one ever talks about him or runs a 20 minute College GameDay backstory piece about his childhood. It’s all just “yea, Luke Falk threw for 500 yards again today. Did you know he is a Pac-12 quarterback? You know who else is a Pac-12 quarterback? Sam Darnold. You know who else is a Pac-12 quarterback? Josh Rosen. Let’s talk about those guys for the next every day from mid August til late April.”
But they both do sweet things, in non-highlight fashion. Falk isn’t throwing 60 yard touchdown bombs, but by the time the game is over you look at the box score and he has 500 yards and 7 TDs. And not a single throw is memorable.
Leia is a fearless, level headed, strategical, logical leader that you can trust to be the face of your franchise. Or the face of your intergalactic revolution, whatever tickles your fancy. She is steady, and unlike her more high profile friends, she doesn’t make emotional decisions (except when her home planet was about to get blown up, but we will give her a pass on that) like throwing a hero pass back across her body to the middle of the field after rolling out to her left, when a turnover will effectively kill your odds of pulling out this victory. Leia is way too smart for that shit.
Kyle Lauletta – R2D2
You know exactly what you’re going to get from R2. He is reliable, consistent, provides important contributions and shows up when the spotlight is the biggest, like Lauletta at the Senior Bowl. Also, playing at Richmond, a lower level of competition, is basically like being a droid and fighting another droid.
Each of these characters has one potentially fatal flaw. Lauletta doesn’t have the requisite arm strength to drive the ball downfield or outside the numbers, and R2D2 isn’t a human. This makes you question their upside. Defenses don’t need to play their safeties as deep against a guy with a noodle arm, and corners could perhaps bait Kyle into some out breaking throws that end up as pick-6’s because they scheme around this weakness.
When you’re flying around in an X-Wing and trying to not die while there are TIE Fighters everywhere, the TIE Fighters are going to ignore your droid and condense their attack. It would be helpful to take the droid out, so he can’t fix your internal electrical issues, just like it would be helpful to blitz Lauletta because pressure on the quarterback is normally a good thing. It just doesn’t really seem necessary here.
So how much upside does Lauletta really have without the necessary arm, and how impactful can R2D2 ever become without somehow managing to transform into a human. I mean, how good is any droid at being a warrior? Especially one like R2, who can’t use a blaster or swing around a lightsaber, even without Jedi training, like ex-storm trooper Finn can? (I’m choosing to ignore the fact the General Grievous really ruins my joke here) R2 is nice to have around when you’re fighting to take over an enemy base, cuz he can open a locked door or shut down a trash compactor because you’re about to die. But if the fate of the galaxy rests squarely on R2, might get dicey.
Mike White – Finn
There are times when what Finn does just pops off the film. He escapes the First Order and frees the most important pilot in the rebellion in the process, he is impressively good at using a lightsaber the first time he ever does, and when Ren is flying away with Rey, he screams so loud that you can hear him over an active war zone that includes fighter planes flying at a low altitude.
White’s arm absolutely pops off the film. That thing is as strong as Finn’s blaster from back in his storm trooper days. White is good on 3rd and 4th down, avoids turnovers and can throw the deep ball.
Finn is also a team player and a fearless risk taker. It was risky to commit treason against the First Order, he twice went on a suicide mission to try to save everyone, and he even attempted to sacrifice his life in order for the rebellion to live on, until Rose stopped him.
But he also breaks down under pressure. The second of his suicide missions was absolutely moronic and terribly executed. Plus, giving up your own life so the rebellion can run away is also a horrible idea. I mean, didn’t Finn watch any of the movies from the first two trilogies? The biggest theme in Star Wars is pretty much run away and fight another day, so he should just get in on that. Only Obi Wan ever sacrifices himself so other people can run away, but when you’re a Jedi and basically still alive when you’re dead, it’s a little different.
So Finn doesn’t really thrive outside of the structure of the play, and neither does Mike White. White also doesn’t bode well under pressure, as he grades poorly on throws where he faces pressure, and consistently takes a ton of sacks. He will fearlessly stand in there and get hit in order to try to make a play. He takes one for the team guys.
White is also inconsistent, so when you start to see the totality of his negatives you question his upside. How much upside does Finn have, really? He isn’t a force user and sometimes like his buddy Poe, he can’t get out of his own way. It’s a quarterback’s world though so if you show enough traits someone is gonna give you a chance to see if you can at least get to the point where your supporting cast can hide your weaknesses. Thank god for Rose.
Also, whoever ends up on the Browns instantly becomes Luke Skywalker, because they’re the New Hope.