NFL Mock Draft: On Hoops
By Kevin Duffy
Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Julius Peppers did it. All three of these one-time basketball stars- gave up their tank-top jerseys and mesh shorts for a helmet and shoulder pads as they entered the world of professional football.
Though Gates, Gonzalez and Peppers are the only three to successfully pull off the switch, they are not the only hoop stars capable of shining on the gridiron. The basketball world is littered with athletes who could be All-Pro football players. After careful examination, here is a mock draft of the 32 basketball players whose athletic ability best translates to the football field.
Note: The players were drafted mostly on individual ability and very little team need was taken into account when compiling the mock.
[img_assist|nid=3615|title=Lebron James - Kevin Reece/Icon SMI|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=429]1. Miami Dolphins- LeBron James WR Cleveland Cavaliers
If James were to enter his name in the actual 2008 NFL Draft, he would likely be the No. 1 overall pick. At 6-foot-8 240 lbs, James possesses an unreal combination of size and speed that makes Randy Moss look like Wayne Chrebet. LBJ was an All-State wide receiver at St. Vincent St. Mary HS in Akron, Ohio.
2. St. Louis Rams- Dwight Howard TE Orlando Magic
Drew Bennett was signed to give the Rams a legitimate red-zone threat. Howard, a 6-foot-11 265 lb freak of nature, might be the better solution.
3. New York Jets- Corey Maggette WR Los Angeles Clippers
Think Terrell Owens, except three inches taller. If Maggette has adequate hands, he has a legitimate chance to be a Hall of Fame wideout, as do James and Howard.
4. Oakland Raiders- Joey Dorsey DE Memphis University
Here are some facts about Joey Dorsey that you may not have known:
Joey Dorsey doesn’t lift weights. He eats them.
Chuck Norris delivered a roundhouse kick to the face of Joey Dorsey. His leg immediately fell off.
Joey Dorsey doesn’t start because he’s good. He starts because John Callipari wants to live.
Joey Dorsey watches snuff films when he wants a good laugh.
Shaquille O’Neal once shattered the backboard from dunking. The backboard once shattered itself from seeing Joey Dorsey.
Joey Dorsey is the only player to ever foul out of a football game.
Joey Dorsey has a six-pack on his back.
Joey Dorsey considers “Hannibal” to be his favorite cooking show.
5. San Francisco 49ers- Joey Graham WR Toronto Raptors
Graham can bench press over 400 lbs and has a 36-inch vertical leap. Combine that with the fact that he’s 6-foot-7 and most defensive backs have very little chance to contain him.
6. Cincinnati Bengals- Glen Davis DT Boston Celtics
Big Baby, an All-American defensive tackle in high school, seems like he has an easier time gaining weight than losing it, so why not balloon back up to 330 and play some pigskin?
7. Atlanta Falcons- Derrick Rose WR/QB Memphis University
Maybe Michael Vick…I mean Joey Harrington, will finally have someone to throw to. Rose is in a league of his own athletically (well, a league with LeBron), and because he is only 19-years-old, his already strong body has some more developing to do. Rose’s height in comparison to Maggette and Graham is the only thing keeping him outside of the Top 5.
8. Minnesota Vikings- David Noel WR Milwaukee Bucks
Noel, initially recruited by North Carolina to play football, was contacted by several NFL teams after finishing first overall in the 2006 NBA Draft combine (athleticism test) when he bench pressed 185-lbs 20 times and flashed a 38.5 inch vertical leap. While it is absurd to think that LeBron James or Dwight Howard will trade their sneakers in for cleats, there is a possibility that Noel will find himself in an NFL uniform if he fades out of the NBA.
9. Baltimore Ravens- Dwayne Wade WR Miami Heat
Wade’s speed and leaping give Baltimore a vertical threat, but his tremendous strength and toughness make him an option over the middle as well. Wade is a bit injury prone, however, and that knocks him down a few spots on the draft board.
10. Chicago Bears- Kobe Bryant WR Los Angeles Lakers
Bryant doesn’t have LeBron’s strength, but he is 6-foot-8 and is blessed with blazing speed and quick leaping ability. He gives Rex Grossman another target to stare at while he throws the ball out of bounds or fumbles a handoff.
11. New Orleans Saints- Amare Stoudemire TE Phoenix Suns
Stoudemire may be a little skinny to be an NFL tight end, but he is nearly 7-feet tall, deceptively strong, and freakishly athletic. He will make Saints fans forget about painful departure of disgruntled tight end Ernie Conwell.
12. Carolina Panthers- Gilbert Arenas WR Washington Wizards
The 6-foot-4 Arenas trained with U.S. Olympian track coach Milian Tiff in the months leading up to the 2001 NBA Draft. Afterwards, Tiff swore that Arenas could run the 100-meter dash in 9 seconds (which would shatter a world record) if he fully dedicated himself to it. Couple Arenas’ height and speed with his wide receiver-like swagger, and he has all the makings of a star pass catcher. Agent 0 would have been a higher pick if it weren’t for his lingering knee problems.
13. Kansas City Chiefs- Nate Robinson CB/RB New York Knicks
Robinson enrolled into the University of Washington on a football scholarship and quit the team to focus on basketball. If he had stuck with football all the way through, there’s a good chance Robinson would have been a Day 1 selection as a cornerback/kick returner.
14. Buffalo Bills- Ben Wallace DE/OLB Detroit Pistons
The only thing keeping Wallace from the Top 5 of this draft is his age. In terms of strength and intensity, Wallace has the makings of an All-Pro pass rusher.
15. Denver Broncos-- Hassan Adams WR Cleveland Cavaliers
Here is the classic case of a basketball player who actually might be better on the gridiron. Adams has tremendous physical ability, but lacks the skill set to be a consistent NBA player. Adams certainly would be successful in a football uniform because of his 6-foot-4 220 lb frame and world-class vertical leap. The high risk of injury and lower salaries in the NFL prevent athletes like Adams from changing sports.
16. Arizona Cardinals- Jason Maxiell OLB Detroit Pistons
The 6-foot-7 260 lb Maxiell is an imposing figure regardless of what sport he plays.
17. Houston Texans- Leandro Barbosa WR Phoenix Suns
Barbosa doesn’t have a football body, but he has rare straight-line speed that cannot be taught. He also has Randy Moss-like length and would induce a lot of play calls from Matt Schaub that sound something like this: “Go Deep Leandro on three…ready… break.”
18. Washington Redskins- Andre Iguodala WR Philadelphia 76ers
The ’Skins receivers all have one thing in common- they are all under 6-feet tall. A 6-foot-7 long-strider unrivaled leaping ability, Iguodala would add a new dimension to a sputtering Washington offense.
19. Philadelphia Eagles- Shelden Williams TE Atlanta Hawks
The Landlord, who hoisted 25 bench reps in the NBA combine two years ago, is a candidate to become the next Antonio Gates.
20. Detroit Lions- Jason Richardson WR Charlotte Bobcats
Matt Millen passing up the chance to draft a raw wide receiver? Not gonna happen.
21. San Diego Chargers- Shaquille O’Neal OT Miami Heat
Somebody had to do it. The Diesel may only have a few years in him, but San Diego needs someone to block for LT now because their Super Bowl window is closing.
22. Cleveland Browns- Ron Artest OLB Sacramento Kings
Considering the physicality of the game and his penchant for doing unusual things , it’s a surprise that Artest hasn’t actually decided to play football. He would certainly play hard- and dirty- from the outside linebacker position.
23. Tennessee Titans- DeMarcus Nelson S/RB Duke University
Nelson, the all-time leading scorer in California high school basketball history, possesses a rangy wingspan and very broad shoulders. He definitely could play wide receiver, but would make an even greater impact in the secondary. Think a muscular version of Antonio Cromartie.
24. Seattle Seahawks- Baron Davis RB/WR Golden State Warriors
Davis is one of the strongest and most explosive athletes in the NBA, but he is getting up there in age and his knees are a concern. If healthy, Davis gives Seattle a hybrid running back that can split out wide and serve as a vertical threat because he is 6-foot-3.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Greg Paulus QB Duke University
Jeff Garcia isn’t getting any younger and Chris Simms’ spleen isn’t getting any less infected. Paulus, the Gatorade National High School Football Player of the Year as a senior at Christian Brothers Academy (Syracuse, NY), is just a junior and could still play both sports if he wanted to. It’s not that much of a time commitment considering the Blue Devil football team holds its bi-monthly practices, also known as unsupervised sessions of “Kill the Carrier“, on Coach K court every other Tuesday. Paulus unfortunately appears too slow for any professional sport.
26. New York Giants- Allen Iverson CB/KR Denver Nuggets
When Rueben Droughns is your kick returner, you know it’s time for an upgrade. Iverson is only 165 lbs, but he is so quick that his thin frame hardly matters. The Answer was a standout option quarterback for state champion Bethel High School (Va.) and has shown the ability to play through injuries.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jeff Adrien DE/TE UConn
A former standout tight end at Brookline (Mass.) High School, Adrien chose basketball over football, but easily has the power, athleticism, and intensity to become a star on the gridiron.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars- Shawn Marion WR Phoenix Suns
The Matrix is a bit skinny, but he makes up for it with supreme speed and athleticism.
29. Indianapolis Colts- Sherron Collins RB Kansas University
Collins is built like a tank at 5-foot-11 195 lbs and has an exceptional burst . He was recruited for basketball, football, and also baseball after a historic high school career at Crane High School, the same high school that produced former Georgia Tech point guard Will Bynum.
30. Green Bay Packers- Byron Eaton RB Oklahoma State University
Eaton was a highly-recruited football and basketball player out of Lincoln High School (Dallas). The former option quarterback wanted to play both sports in Stillwater, but ultimately decided it would be best to focus on basketball. Eaton will never play in the NBA, so for his own future, it wouldn’t be a bad decision to pick up football again and try to make the NFL.
31. Dallas Cowboys- Craig Smith DE Minnesota Timberwolves
Smith is an absolute beast of a man who has all the physical tools necessary to excel as a pro football player.
32. New England Patriots- Ty Lawson RB University of North Carolina
The Pats seem to collect running backs. Like Collins and Eaton, Lawson has the low center of gravity and jet-like quickness that are necessary to excel at running back in the NFL.
If your name wasn’t called, don’t think I forgot you. Kyle Lowry (RB), Josh Smith (WR), Chris Richard (DE/TE), Gerald Wallace (WR), Stephon Marbury (RB), Michael Beasley (DE), Brandon Bass (LB), and Ben Gordon (RB/WR) Dahntay Jones (WR) and Terrence Williams (WR) were among those on the fringe of being drafted.
Let’s turn this idea around. As difficult as it must be to transition from basketball to football, it is even harder to go from football to basketball. Because basketball involves much more skill, there are only a handful of NFL players who would have a chance in the NBA. Here they are:
1. Adrian Wilson
I’ve never seen Adrian Wilson play basketball, but I have seen him jump.
If you haven’t, hit the link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=7vL19q8yL54
Of course, a good vertical leap isn’t nearly enough to get Wilson into the NBA, but it’s a start.
2. Terrell Owens
TO nearly gave up football in high school to focus on basketball, but decided to keep playing both when he consulted his football coach. Turned out to be a good decision. The future Hall of Famer clearly has spent most of his time on football, but he hasn’t neglected his hoops skills. Owens played basketball at Tennessee-Chattanooga and also played in the USBL during the summer of 2005.
3. Randy Moss
Moss was the two-time West Virginia Basketball Player of the Year in high school playing alongside Miami Heat's jason Williams and his since toyed with the idea of playing the sport professionally. He is an elite athlete, but at 6-foot-4 he would need to be a consistent outside shooter to make it in the NBA.
4. Ronald Curry
Curry was an All-American football and basketball player at Hampton HS (Va.). He initially signed with Virginia to play both sports, but then withdrew his commitment and ended up at North Carolina. He was both the point guard and quarterback for the Tar Heels, and ultimately elected to play in the NFL rather than the NBA. Curry was a good distributor and defender, but he never had the jumpshot to make it as a pro basketball player.
5. Adrian McPherson
McPherson, Florida’s Mr. Basketball and Mr. Football as a senior at Southeast High School (Bradenton, Fl.), is the only athlete in the state’s history to garner both awards. At Florida State University, McPherson started playing both quarterback and point guard, but ended up giving up basketball to focus on football. He was drafted in the 7th round by the Saints but since was released.
*For an all time list, longtime Knicks guard and former Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward would have to be the top pick. Ironically, Ward was considered too small to play the NFL QB position but had a solid career playing in the NBA.
Comments/Questions are encouraged. You can reach me at Kevin.R.Duffy@uconn.edu