Top 10 NBA Players Who Would Star in the NFL

John Degroote@john_degrooteCorrespondent IIAugust 15, 2012

Top 10 NBA Players Who Would Star in the NFL

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    Many professional athletes believe they could play multiple sports at an elite level, but the truth is most of them could not.

    Through history, how many athletes have been stars in two sports?

    At lower levels, such as high school or even college, plenty.

    But what about at the professional level?

    Only Deion Sanders (NFL and MLB), Bo Jackson (NFL and MLB) and Jim Thorpe (football, basketball, baseball and the Olympics) come to mind as athletes who were successful competing in multiple professional sports.

    Even Michael Jordan, the best NBA player of all time, failed as a baseball player.

    Today, the NBA is a collection of some of the most freakish athletes in the world. They have unrivaled size, speed and explosiveness.

    Is it wishful thinking to think we are in the golden age of supreme athletes in the NBA?

    The NFL is much rougher than the NBA, and no athlete has ever been successful in both leagues in recent history. While former talented basketball players have popped up in the NFL—such as Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham—they never starred in the NBA.

    Here are 10 current NBA stars whose skill sets and athletic abilities would transfer to the National Football League and make them stars.

10. Rajon Rondo, WR

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 186 lbs

    NBA Position: PG

    NFL Position: WR

    NFL Comparison: Wes Welker


    Rajon Rondo frustrates his opponents with his speed and quickness on a nightly basis.

    In the NFL, Rondo would be a Wes Welker-type receiver. Rondo would play out of the slot position and be able to toast his coverage with quick cuts.

    He may not be a big-play, deep-ball receiver, but Rondo would be able to take a short pass for a big gain if given the opportunity. He also has breakaway speed.

    In the NBA, Rondo routinely runs by his man. While he may not have the biggest frame, his agility and quickness would be among the league's elite.

9. Steve Nash, K

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    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 178 lbs

    NBA Position: PG

    NFL Position: K

    NFL Comparison: Nate Kaeding


    Steve Nash has been an elite point guard in the NBA for more than 15 years, but could he have had a career as an NFL kicker?

    Nash is an avid soccer fan and player. While it is not certain how much power Nash has in his foot, he has shown some fancy footwork on the court.

    The two-time NBA MVP has also has excellent vision on the court, and this could make him one of the most dangerous threats for a fake field goal.

    Nash's 6'3" frame would make him much larger than most kickers, and he would be able to handle the punishment the NFL would dole out.

8. Chris Paul, CB

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    Height: 6'0"

    Weight: 175 lbs

    NBA Position: PG

    NFL Position: CB

    NFL Comparison: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie


    Chris Paul led the NBA in steals last year with 2.7 per game.

    He also could take the ball away from opponents on the gridiron.

    Paul is quick enough to keep up with NFL wide receivers, and he has unrivaled hand-eye coordination. If he didn't get the interception, he surely would be able to get his hands up and knock the ball away.

    Paul also has great vision on the court and could utilize that as a return man. If he was given enough room, he would be able to set up his blocks and take a few kicks the distance.

7. Dwight Howard, TE

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    Height: 6'11"

    Weight: 265 lbs

    NBA Position: C

    NFL Position: TE/Special Teams

    NFL Comparison: Leonard Pope


    Dwight Howard is the only player on this list whose size may limit his NFL potential.

    Howard would be a great prospect at tight end, and he would have the size advantage on most of his opponents. Through his NBA career, he also has demonstrated that he has the strength to shrug off defenders.

    Howard could create good separation from defenders and could go up and get the ball. However, his sheer size would leave him open to take big hits to the midsection.

    If Howard did not work out as a pass-catching tight end, he could be a Pro Bowl special teams player; his height and wingspan would give kickers fits. Howard would be a kick-block threat every time an opponent's field goal unit came on the field.

6. Matt Barnes, WR

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    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 226 lbs

    NBA Position: SF

    NFL Position: WR

    NFL Comparison: Brandon Marshall


    Did you know Matt Barnes was a high school All-American while at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, Calif., before pursing basketball?

    Barnes would be an elite possession receiver in the NFL. He would tower over cornerbacks at 6'7", and he would be able to use his size for a distinct advantage.

    Barnes may not have the breakaway speed or game-breaking jukes, but he surely would be one of his quarterback's favorite targets.

5. Kawhi Leonard, OLB

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    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 225 lbs

    NBA Position: SF

    NFL Position: OLB

    NFL Comparison: LaMarr Woodley


    Kawhi Leonard had a great rookie season in the NBA and proved himself among the game's great young players.

    Leonard was gifted with a 7'3" wingspan, which makes him one of the longest players in the NBA. A full-size Shaquille O'Neal would fit between Leonard's arms.

    This length would translate well to the NFL as an outside linebacker.

    In the NBA, Leonard often covers the other team's best offensive player, so he would be adept in pass coverage.

    However, his real contribution would come in defending against the running game. With that wingspan, even if he had a blocker on him, Leonard would be able to contain the outside. Offensive tackles would have a hard time blocking Leonard and keeping him from making plays.

4. Nate Robinson, RB/CB

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    Height: 5'9"

    Weight: 180 lbs

    NBA Position: PG

    NFL Position: RB/CB

    NFL Comparison: Darren Sproles


    Nate Robinson is only 5'9", but he has had a solid seven-year career in the NBA.

    While Robinson has struggled to stay on a roster in recent years, he always will be able to say he was a three-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion.

    Should Robinson ever play in the NFL, he would be a quick, versatile running back.

    Darren Sproles violates defenses with his quickness and uses his 5'6" frame to hide behind his offensive line and explode for a gain.

    Robinson could do the same thing.

    He would be an elite threat on the goal line as well. With his ridiculous vertical jump, he could jump right over his offensive line for six points on a routine basis.

    What may have been lost in his highlight-filled NBA career is that Robinson played cornerback during his college days at the University of Washington.

    During the lockout in 2011, Robinson was even invited to by Seattle head coach Pete Carroll to Seahawks training camp.

3. Metta World Peace, MLB

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    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 260 lbs

    NBA Position: SF

    NFL Position: MLB

    NFL Comparison: Ray Lewis


    Middle linebackers are often some of the craziest guys on the field.

    And Metta World Peace is crazy.

    He was the catalyst in the Pacers-Pistons brawl and most recently elbowed James Harden in the head after a big dunk.

    While the artist formerly known as Ron Artest may have a few screws loose, there is a method to his madness. World Peace has been praised as an elite defender for most of his career, and he even won a Defensive Player of the Year award in 2004.

    MWP could run the huddle and be a run-stopping middle linebacker. He would not be scared to lower his shoulder and shut down the play in the hole. He also has the length to bat down passes in pass coverage.

    World Peace may be a bit crazier after some time in the NFL, but imagine the jersey sales.

2. Blake Griffin, DE

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    Height: 6'10"

    Weight: 251 lbs

    NBA Position: PF

    NFL Position: DE

    NFL Comparison: Jason Pierre-Paul


    Blake Griffin is the most explosive athlete in the NBA. His dunk over a car has become NBA folklore, and he has to avoid hitting his head on the rim as he throws it down in his Clippers uniform.

    Now imagine Griffin in a three-point stance, exploding toward the quarterback. He would be an offensive tackle's nightmare.

    Griffin has both the athleticism and strength to shed blocks and get to the quarterback. He also is versatile enough to where he could play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense if needed.

    Griffin would no longer be slamming the ball in rims—he would be slamming the quarterback to the ground.

1. LeBron James, Multiple Positions

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    Height: 6'8"

    Weight: 250 lbs

    NBA Position: SF

    NFL Position: TE, WR, LB, DE, QB

    NFL Comparison: N/A


    There really is not much to say here.

    LeBron James may be the most gifted athlete in all professional sports, and there is no current NFL player who is his equivalent.

    James has the body of a big man, moves like a point guard and can ignite a packed stadium with a giant block or dunk at any moment.

    In the NFL, he could do the same kind of things.

    LeBron could be split out wide as a wide receiver and dominate his opponents. He was an All-State performer in high school, so it would feel familiar to him.

    The reigning NBA MVP could be put at TE to either go catch a pass or stay in and block.

    LeBron even has the quickness and strength to be a factor on the defensive side of the ball.

    Heat fans also have gotten used to the sight of LeBron throwing court-length passes to a camping Dwyane Wade, displaying his arm strength.

    LeBron made a splash during the lockout when he tweeted ESPN reporter John Clayton, saying:

    @claytonespn When is the deadline for a team to sign a free agent?

    — LeBron James (@KingJames) October 11, 2011

    Of course, the statement blew up the Twitterverse.

    It is not likely LeBron will ever strap on a pair of shoulder pads and battle on the football field—but fans can always dream.


    How do you think these players would do in the NFL? Do you agree or disagree? Was anyone left off the list?

    Let us know what you think in the comment section below!