The NFL Draft isn’t just a chance for teams to restock on talent: It’s an opportunity for the league to appropriate some cool new names. From legends like Bronko Nagurski to announcing nightmares like Kabeer Gbaja Biamila to 16-character jersey-busters like LaRod Stephens-Howling, the NFL has a long and proud history of players with heroic, unusual, and hilarious names (saying Dick Butkus aloud is still never not funny).
The 2014 NFL Draft is loaded with athletes whose monikers will be a welcome addition to the football lexicon and it starts at the top with the player most experts predict will be picked first overall by the Houston Texans, Jadeveon Clowney. Just as his play combines overwhelming pass-rushing speed with crushing size, Jadeveon’s first name is wonderfully original, while his surname is easy to clowney on. It’s a tremendous addition to a galaxy of stars that includes Darnell Dockett, Drayton Florence, Bear Pascoe, Haloti Ngata, Pierre Gar[squiggly-C]on, Pat Angerer, and many, many others.
Those names are each compelling in their own way and the players they belong to are of varying skill. That’s also the case here: Culled from the CBS Sports list of the top 1,000 draft prospects, many of the players cited in this list won’t hear their awesome names called at the draft, much less play a single down in the NFL. But even if a career in professional football doesn’t pan out for Jestin Love, Osahon Irabor, or JaQuez Jenkins, they can still go through life knowing that their kickass names will help them succeed in other facets of life. Just like Max Power.
Current stars: Patrick Peterson, Wes Welker, Luke Kuechly, Jacoby Jones
Top prospects: Darqueze Dennard, Dakota Dozier, Fou Fonoti, Andru Pulu, Qua Cox, Dan France, Sammy Seamster
The pick: Macky MacPherson
Macky MacPherson just sounds like someone you want to play alongside. He’s fun and friendly, but he’s not afraid to put his head down and wage war in the trenches. Macky MacPherson is a center, but I didn’t need to tell you that, because, duh, Macky MacPherson, the lovable lug.
According to draft experts, Macky MacPherson is not expected to be drafted, but if a team is looking for a player whose name you simply can't stop saying, Macky MacPherson is your man.
Current stars: Champ Bailey, A.J. Hawk, Max Unger, Captain Munnerlyn
Top prospects: Storm Johnson, Steele Divitto, Crockett Gillmore, Brock Coyle, Nathan Slaughter
The pick: Gator Hoskins
With a name like Gator, you’d think Hoskins would’ve played his college ball at the University of Florida. He played at Marshall instead, leading all tight ends with 13 touchdown catches in his final season. Hoskins enters the draft as a fullback, and is not expected to be drafted until the seventh round (if at all). However, if he plays with the ferocity of his namesake, he should be able to find a spot on someone’s roster.
Also, Steele Divitto, please go to Pittsburgh. Please! The pick just makes too much sense.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie award for use of hyphens
Current stars: Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Maurice Jones-Drew, LaRod Stephens-Howling
Top prospects: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ricky Havili-Heimuli, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, Al Louis-Jean Jr.
The pick: Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe
Much as they are in the world of marriage, hyphenated last names are on the rise among NFL players. Which is great, because the longer the name, the cooler the jersey looks, even if they’re a nightmare for equipment personnel who struggle to keep the lettering from spilling over onto the shoulder pads.
Although his name shouldn’t be too difficult to squeeze onto a jersey, Boise State defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe gets the nod here because of the TWO hyphens in his last name, a rare feat of grammatical ambition. The name Tjong-A-Tjoe (pronounced “Chong-AH-choo”) is also likely to cause a few slip-ups among announcing crews, which brings us too...
Names that will make announcer’s heads explode
Current stars: Chris Ogbannaya, Dave Zastudil, Michael Hoomanawanui, Seyi Ajirotutu, Starlite Lotulelei
Top prospects: Eathyn Manumaleuna, Elhadji Ndiaye, IK Enemkpali, Ryan Erxleben
The pick: Cqulin Hubert
Hard to choose a winner out of this bunch. I mean, Cquil? Where do you even start with that? Excuse me Pat, but I’d like to buy a vowel, amiright!?
To be fair, if any of these players turn out to be stars, the announcers will learn their names quickly. Let’s hope for these player’s sake that the announcer at the draft is doing his homework as well.
Current stars: Prince Amukamara, Chad Greenway, Robert Griffin III
Top prospects: Louchiez Purifoy, Carrington Byndom, Roosevelt Nix, Roderick McDowell, Kirby Van Der Kamp, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Weston Richburg
The pick: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
As I’m sure you’re familiar, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is the product of a marriage between two of the most oldest and most honorable houses of Stoneybrook, the Duvernay’s and the Tardif’s. His mother, Blanche Duvernay, was a debutante renown for her elegance and etiquette, while his father Carlton Tardif was a famous adventurer before a hunting mishap forced him to settle down into a career in textiles.
When Laurent was a child, he showed real promise at polo, the sport most befitting his noble birth. But when Duvernay-Tardif finally filled out his 6’5”, 321 lb frame, his parents decided to allow him a shot at “footballery,” and the rest is a completely fabricated history.
Names that sound like fictional characters
Current stars: Lance Briggs, Percy Harvin, Julius Peppers, Zoltan Mesko
Top prospects: Jarek Lancaster, Jackson Jeffcoat, Fabian Truss, Ulrick John, Dezmen Southward, Xavier Grimble
The pick: Lache Seastrunk
The following is excerpted from the book jacket of the forthcoming novel “Atlantis Escape” -- Lache Seastrunk always dreamed of one day discovering the lost city of Atlantis. Now, after a chance encounter with a sea nymph at the NFL Combine, the running back has been whisked away to the long-forgotten undersea kingdom. With the help of his loyal sidekick Jackson Jeffcoat, Seastrunk will discover that there’s much more to the lore of Atlantis than just mermaids and tridents. As the villainous Xavier Grimble sets his sights on reclaiming the “Sunshine Kingdom” above water, Lache must use his skills to “run back” to the home he left behind. But with the brilliant and cunning Jarek Lancaster hot on his tail, Seastrunk’s battle against time may only forestall an even bigger conflict: All out war between the humans and Atlantians!
The “Key and Peele” award for creativity and originality
Current stars: D'Brickishaw Ferguson, Jermichael Finley, D'Qwell Jackson, Barkevious Mingo
Top prospects: Vintavious Cooper, Daytawion Lowe, Devekeyan Lattimore, Seantrel Henderson, Kenarious Gates, Charcandrick West, Marqueston Huff
The pick: Seantavious Jones
While this year’s draft class may not include a D’Squarius Green Jr., L’Carpetron Dookmarriot, or Jackmerius Tacktheritrix, Key and Peele would still marvel at the panache displayed in the names of some of these players. Vintavious? Marqueston? Charcandrick? Outstanding monikers, all.
And when it comes to a colorful remix of a common name, no one can top Seantavious Jones. I mean, Sean Jones is cool, I guess. He gets good grades, fancies a career in accounting, and his favorite food is soup. But Seantavious Jones? That guy hauls in long-bomb passes in one hand, hot chicks in the other.
Names that sound like famous names
Current stars: Will Smith, Marc Anthony, Jason Jones
Top prospects: Andrew Jackson, Mike Meyer, John Brown, Kevin Smith, Will Smith
The pick: Gerald Ford
There are certain things you just can’t make up. 40 years after assuming the presidency from Richard Nixon and seven years after dying, Gerald Ford is back and ready to make an NFL team. According to Wikipedia, he’s been playing football since the early 1930s, so he’s due to make someone’s roster.
But even that’s not what's truly odd about Gerald Ford’s story. No, what's really weird is that Gerald Ford played wide receiver at Valdosta State, where he lined up alongside...SEANTAVIOUS JONES! Like I said, you can’t make this up.
Names that sound mildly perverted
Current stars: Guy Whimper, Danny Woodhead, Golden Tate, Parrish Cox
Top prospects: David Yankey, Chase Dixon, Damien Proby, Yawin Smallwood, Chris Manhertz, Clarence Bumpas
The Pick: Chase Dixon
You know the “Boy Named Sue” theory, wherein parents give their children a difficult name so that they grow up tough? Then, following a brutal street fight, they even get thanked by their miserable child for the “gravel in their guts and spit in their eye”? I’m guessing Chase Dixon’s parents subscribe to that one. And just look where it has gotten him.
[Image courtesy of Vintage Football Card Gallery]
And the No. 1 overall coolest name is…
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is truly one of the great names of this or any other draft. He’s got the hyphen, his name is amusing in a juvenile sense, and although his proper name is Ha’Sean (!), the man goes by Ha Ha. It’s almost too good to be true. I mean, if you were a substitute teacher who came across Clinton-Dix, Ha Ha on the attendance sheet, you wouldn’t believe it, right?
Believe it. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the top rated safety in this year’s draft, and he’s widely expected to be picked sometime in the first two rounds. Described by NFL.com as having “starter-caliber instincts, range, coverage skills and tackling ability as a free safety,” Clinton-Dix, already pro-ready with his time at Alabama, will be expected to fit into a system immediately, and he could thrive for years to come. His name might give you a chuckle, but come draft day, Ha Ha will have the last laugh.