From the Hardwood to the Gridiron: Scouting NBA Players for the NFL

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I miss football. I’m in major withdrawal like a drug addict or alcoholic giving up their vice cold turkey. The best it’s going to get is this week’s NFL combine, but in my opinion, it’s the greatest waste of a showcase of athleticism in sports. The best name I’ve heard it called is the “Underwear Olympics.”

It’s just a bunch of future millionaire athletes performing test and drills that don’t really equate to on field success. Seriously, how many wide receivers are going to be able to run 40 yards in a straight line down field without being touched? None! That’s why the 40 yard dash, as well as the vertical leap and shuttle drills are so over-rated to me.

Anyway, as I prepare to watch—because again, it’s the closest thing we will get to talking football until the May draft—I can’t help but to think of how athletes in others sports would fair if they participated in the “Underwear Olympics” and performed well enough to be drafted into the NFL. Specifically NBA players, who are some of the greatest athletes on Earth.

I watch a lot of pro basketball and marvel at the athleticism of the players. The constant running, jumping, wrestling for position on the post, the agility to defend sliding sideline to sideline and keep a guy just as athletic in front of you without using your hands clearly shows it is the one sport where your entire body is pushed to its max.

The ability basketball players display night after night makes me wonder who could’ve been as great or more if they took their talents to another sport, specifically the gridiron. Some of them may be better than they are in their current profession.

So, here’s my list of guys I would’ve love to see strap on helmets and shoulder pads.

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two

Westbrook is a ferocious, exceptional athlete with a mean streak. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Russell Westbrook (DB) 6’3″ 200. Westbrook is a blur with the ball in his hands on the court, but instead of using that ability to catch passes at wideout, he’d probably be best used in the defensive secondary.

http://youtu.be/6QX59NsUnmY 

 Russ could cover a lot of ground on the field a la Troy Polumalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s also very physical and has mean streak. I imagine him having more success covering the larger athletic tight ends that are currently changing the game.

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LBJ is 6’8″ 250 lbs, Offensive coordinator would love to make a game plan with him in them. Photo Courtesy: NBA

LeBron James (TE) 6’8″ 250. Everyone knows by now that LBJ was an All-State wide receiver in Ohio at St. Vincent St. Mary High School, when he was a lot skinnier.

Arguably the best tight end in NFL History, Tony Gonzales, was a star basketball player at the University of Cal Berkley before joining the NFL. A few of the top TEs currently playing in the NFL, Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas of Denver were also standout hoopers.

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James was an All-Ohio football star at St. Vincent St. Mary’s. Photo Courtesy: ESPN.com

LBJ could be similar to those three guys and Rob Gronkowski. He’d be a huge security blanket for any QB with the wide catch radius he’d have in the middle of the field.

Los Angeles Clippers vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Ibaka has the size and athleticism that could make him a premier pass rusher. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Serge Ibaka (DE) 6’10” 244. Ibaka is one of the best defensive players in the NBA. Why? He has superior leaping ability, agile and quick footwork, not just for a guy his size, but that you’ll ever see. Now put those tools on a football field and tell him to go sack the quarterback.

He’d be like JJ Watt, batting down passes, while keeping mobile QBs like Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick trapped in the pocket.

Of all the guys on this list, Serge would be my pick to have the greatest success. They say in the NFL you better either have someone elite to pass the ball, elite to protect the passer and elite at getting to the passer to win championships. I’d take my chances on Serge being able to fulfill the third variable in the equation.

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder – Game Two

Perkins seems to enjoy doing the dirty work and has a nasty mean streak that is necessary to play in the trenches. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images.

Kendrick Perkins (LT) 6’10” 270. This is the guy I truly believe would have a better football career than he’s having in basketball. Not because he’s bad on the court—he was a key contributor on a NBA Championship team—but because his skill set is desirable and off the charts for the NFL.

Perkins is a nasty enforcer, and does all the dirty work without any desire to have the limelight for his NBA employer the Oklahoma City Thunder. That’s exactly what you want from the guy protecting your franchise player in the trenches.

Perkins’ wingspan and athleticism for his size would be a nightmare for defensive ends. I’d imagine him in the mold of Hall of Famer Super Bowl Champion Johnathan Ogden.

With the way Perkins career on the court has been going lately, he may want to seriously consider such a change.

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Paul is known as pound for pound, the toughest player in the NBA.

Chris Paul (QB) 6’1″ 200. Many NBA executives believe CP3 has the best court vision, passing ability and IQ of all the top point guards in the league. He’s extremely tough as well having played through several nagging injuries during his career that would’ve kept others on the sidelines. He adds a fiery competitive spirit with exceptional leadership, qualities you want in your offensive signal caller.

Even though he is shorter than the current prototypical NBA point guard, he’s built like a tree stump and he’s still taller than Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.

You have to give him credit also for having super quickness and agility that would go a long way in helping him maneuver in and out of the pocket.

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Even coming off of a couple of injury plagued seasons, Rose’s athleticism is elite. Photo Courtesy: NBA

Derrick Rose (WR) 6’3″ 195. I hear you snickering. You’re thinking this guy misses more games to injuries in a low contact sport, how would he stay on the field in a high contact sport like football. D-Rose’s injuries to his knees and ankles were of the freakish type and not a true test of ones toughness. There’s a difference between being injured and hurt. Rose has played hurt and is very tough.

Now his athletic skill set is off the charts. It’s between him and Westbrook for who is the fastest in the NBA baseline to baseline. Rose’s agility and breakaway speed would lead to many yards after the catch and the way he weaves through defenders with a basketball, just imagine how he’d be not having to worry about dribbling and just dodging opponents.

So there you have it, my list of NBA players I wish could’ve played football. Tell me what you think? Is there anyone I left off the list you think could be a good football player? Let me know.

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