By Dan Williams @Dan_Wi11iams on July 3, 2014
In today's professional sports world, gone are two-sport athletes like Deion Sanders, Brian Jordan and of course, Bo Jackson. Today's professional athlete may be solid at multiple sports, but their focus (and contractual obligation) is within one sport. Although these NBA players will never suit up for an NFL team, it's always fun to talk about who could actually make the cut if they were to cross over; here's a look at ten of them.
Thomas is the ideal size for an NFL punt/kick returner. NFL teams are looking for someone who is shifty and can fit through the small lanes that are provided for them on special teams. Thomas' size, speed, and ability to make quick cuts on the basketball floor would carry over nicely to the NFL game.
By now, any NBA fan knows that Nash grew up a soccer player and even proclaimed that he could have been able to play professionally had he kept with it. Having that type of leg would almost ensure that Nash could be a decent placekicker in the NFL. Why not throw him at QB for a wildcat formation or put him in the slot like Wes Welker?
It's tough to find NBA players who fit the size profile for an NFL offensive lineman, but Glen "Big Baby" Davis is the closest player to it. While he may be a little tall and just a bit under the typical weight, Davis possesses a sturdy build and a physical style of play. For a guy his size, Davis' footwork on the court would enable him to keep defensive linemen off his quarterback.
Some NFL players, like Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas and Antonio Gates, played basketball in college. They were able to focus on football and become star tight ends in the NFL. Paul George may be too lean to be a TE, but maybe he could fit in as a hybrid TE/WR. His jumping ability and height would allow him to have huge advantage over any defender trying to guard him.
Tony Allen is one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA, and his knack for defense would allow him to be a top safety in the NFL. Like with a lot of the NBA players on this list, Allen's size may be a concern, but his ability to stick to his assignment on the court would carry over onto the field. Allen's hard-nose play would allow him to be a run-stopping safety as well.
Just like in the NBA, Kawhi Leonard would be the type of NFL player who doesn't need a particular position — just an assignment. Leonard's frame would make him the biggest WR in the league, and his athleticism and hands would make him a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Because of his size, it would be tough to project Griffin's position. But for a player with his abilities, an NFL coach would need to find a way to get him on the field. Whether it's WR, TE or DE, Griffin's athleticism would be a must-have. The way he's able to move his defender and go up strong at the rim would make him a terror at DE; he would be able to throw the OL out of the way and certainly be able to bat down a pass with ease.
As one of the most exciting and athletic players in the NBA, Russell Westbrook's transition from Point Guard to NFL Running Back would seemingly be smooth. Westbrook has the speed and quickness to dart through holes, along with the physicality to run the ball in — or leap over the pile on the goal line. Although he's known as a scorer and not a passer, he should be able to pull off a halfback toss pass much like LaDainian Tomlinson.
Don't be put off by Robinson's size. Not only his he a three-time NBA slam dunk champion, but Robinson played in 13 games for the Washington Huskies' football team as a freshman in college. As a cornerback, Robinson intercepted two passes and totaled six kick returns. His leaping ability and quickness would make up for any size difference in the NFL.
The rumors of LeBron trying his hand at the NFL have been long-winded, but many people around the NFL believed that James could've been a big-time receiver. In high school, he was named first team all-state as a sophomore and led his team to the state semifinals as a junior. Without question, James' size, jumping ability and overall athleticism would allow for him to be a threat either as a WR or TE.
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