If NBA Players Were NFL Players

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If NBA Players Were NFL Players

Ever wonder how star basketball players would fare on the football field?

While watching the Olympics, I was thinking about just how dominating Lebron James would be receiving passes and running over anyone and everyone in his way.  Then I started to wonder how other NBAers would do on the gridiron. 

I think a lot of basketball players would make great wide receivers and defensive backs with their athletic ability and size.  Other than those two glaring positions, it’s extremely hard to translate. 

Their bodies are different, skill sets are different, and most football players want to stay low while basketball players, well, they want to play “above the rim”.  Who knows if these football players can tackle, but you can estimate.

I looked at every current NBA player’s size, strengths and bio to get a feel for their potential to play football.  Of course, toughness was a key ingredient here. 

Also, I ruled out all players standing over 6’8" due to their lack of leverage and physical coordination.  They just do not translate into being good football players.  I did not include offensive linemen either for obvious reasons.   I hope this is as fun to read as it was to write.

Top 5  

1. Lebron James
2. Allen Iverson
3. Jason Maxiell
4. Ron Artest
5. Chauncey Billups


QB-Jason Kidd (6’4", 215)

A team leader and gifted point guard, Kidd would seem to be a perfect fit behind center.  With his ability to put the ball right where his teammates need it, it only seems natural to give this student of the game the ball and let him run the offense. 

Helped by his quarterback-size height, he sees the court extremely well and that should carry over to the field.   Honestly, I have no idea if he can throw a football but doesn’t this all sound feasible?  Oh, and Charlie Ward is no longer playing so Kidd is the best fit in my crazy opinion.

Backup: Brandon Roy (6’6", 230)

RB-Chauncey Billups (6’2", 210)

Billups has the build of a power running back and his quick first step makes you think he could escape a few tackles as well.  His low center of gravity and balance that allows him to be a physical slasher to the basket would translate into a successful running back, especially given his vision and high awareness. 

Add the fact that football was his first love (he did the majority of the running as an all-state quarterback in high school) and his cousin is Lendale White and, as good as Billups is, you start to think maybe he is playing the wrong sport.

RB-Stephon Marbury (6’2", 205)

Starbury’s lightning moves and explosive speed on the basketball court offers you the belief that he would be the perfect compliment to Billups’ power running style on the gridiron.  Along with his insane agility, his natural ability to read defenses should allow him to know where the holes are opening up and hit the “seams” on the football field. 

He has adequate strength and power to be a tailback, just don’t run a flee-flicker with him because of his “questionable” shot/pass selection.

Backups: Mo Williams (6‘1", 185), Raymond Felton (6’1", 200)

WR-Dwayne Wade (6’4", 215)

Wade’s forte of penetrating hard to the hoop with the ball in his hands might give you reason to think he would excel as a running back, but I think his height gives him an advantage at the wide receiver position. 

He would be a silky smooth route runner and once he gets the ball in his hands, he could slice through an entire defense.  Not to mention he could apply his supreme focus and concentration to catching those wayward, difficult throws. 

Dwayne also played football as a youth so it would seem like a fluid crossover to the football field.

WR-Vince Carter (6’6", 220)

The athletic freak would be a mismatch for any defender.  His quickness combined with his high-flying act could both separate himself from corners and grab any errant, high balls.  Carter’s big, soft hands would help him make some acrobatic catches high in the air.  He also possesses excellent body control which would make him a reliable target.

WR-Kobe Bryant (6’6", 220)

Some guys are just so good physically and mentally, they would thrive in any athletic setting.  Kobe Bryant is one of those guys.  His quickness, leaping ability, hand-eye coordination, along with his size would make him a fantastic wide receiver. 

Bryant’s focus is second to none and his fearlessness would make him a dependable receiver over the middle for those tough catches. He would be the receiver you would want to throw to down the stretch.

Backups: Michael Finley (6‘7", 225), Josh Howard (6‘5", 215), Jerry Stackhouse (6’6", 220)

TE-Lebron James (6’8", 250)

James would revolutionize the tight end position.  Yes, he could play wide receiver or even defensive end and be all-pro at any of those positions but I like using his inhuman combination of size, strength, and speed to completely take over a game at tight end. 

After he explodes off the line, his great feel for spatial relations will get him open.  Once the ball arrives, good luck tackling this beast of an athlete.  Add to it the fact that he was a first-team all-state receiver in high school as a sophomore and my work here is done.

TE-Richard Jefferson (6’7", 230)

Another player with superior athleticism, Jefferson has the speed and size to mismatch a linebacker.  If his quick first step doesn’t free himself from a defender, his endless motor will eventually get himself open. 

He’s shown to have good hands as well which would make him a solid receiver and a good blocker but his vertical is the most compelling trait for this position.  Just throw the ball his way and he’ll most likely come down with it.

Backups: Carmelo Anthony (6‘8", 230), Shawn Marion (6’7", 230)

DT-Carlos Boozer (6’8", 265)

Boozer has got some serious man strength, especially in his lower body.  His sizable legs and posterior would allow him to play with superior leverage as he can get low and take quality angles.  All this translates into a run-stopping machine at the defensive tackle position. 

This rugged player also is relentless on the court, inferring he would keep pursuit on the quarterback or running back until the play was over.

DT-Glen Davis (6’8", 290)

Big Baby would use his enormous girth on the inside of the defensive line as a tackle.  Besides his big body, he’s got great hands which would in theory help his overall technique at the position.  Davis has been known to use his craftiness to get around defenders in the lane.  This attribute would come in handy as he would work well in tight spaces.

Backups: Sean May (6‘8", 290), Zach Randolph (6‘8", 265), Craig Smith (6’7", 265)

DE-Ron Artest (6’7", 250)

To me, this was a no no-brainer.  The defensive stopper loves contact.  He has an ideal body for the position and he is explosive, a requirement for a pass rusher.  His smarts on the court would translate into him being able to sniff out a pass or a run. 

The most important characteristic he possesses which will enable him to be a great defensive lineman: his batteries are always charged, and he's just a fearless competitor.

DE-Jason Maxiell (6’6", 260)

Maxiell is a physical specimen, just built like a brick house.  He has a defensive mentality and a nasty streak that would make offensive linemen cry. 

On the court, his reputation is that of a garbage man who competes extremely hard and he has a motor that does not stop.  His muscular arms and upper body would be a perfect fit for a defensive end as they are forced to use their arms a lot to “swim” around offensive tackles.  Plus, he just looks like a football player.

Backups: Elton Brand (6‘8", 255), Kenyon Martin (6‘7", 245), Leon Powe (6’7", 240)

LB-Baron Davis (6’3", 220)

His stocky body is similar to that of an NFL linebacker’s and his overall power is great for a man his size.  I can see him also playing running back, though I like him better at middle linebacker because of his leadership and height.  His supreme foot agility and read and react play would make him an outstanding ‘backer.  He also has that killer instinct when the game is on the line that you want from your defensive leaders.

LB-Bonzi Wells (6’5", 215)

Wells is a play-maker and I think he would do just that at the linebacker position if he could put on a few pounds.  One area you have to be good at to be a linebacker is footwork and with Wells’ rebounding prowess, a skill that requires good footwork, I see him succeeding there. 

He has good anticipation skills and I’ll just say it, his bad-boy image suits him well for the defensive side of the ball. 

LB-Fred Jones (6’2", 225)

With a football player’s body and the athleticism Jones owns (former slam dunk champion), I can see this shooting guard becoming a legitimate outside linebacker.  He would fly all over the field just like he does on the basketball court with his tremendous speed and quickness.  The guy is one tough cookie as well.

Backups: Gilbert Arenas (6’4", 215), Caron Butler (6’6", 230), Andre Miller (6’2", 205)

CB-Allen Iverson (6', 180)

The former Virginia high school player of the year in high school while playing quarterback, Iverson left his mark on the football field.  No doubt he would succeed as a wide receiver as well, maybe in a slot position role with his slight build, but I like the idea of seeing him at cornerback.  His superb quickness, hip movement, vertical and toughness are some of the reasons why I see him making a great corner.

I would have no qualms about putting him out on an island by himself with a receiver as his one on one defensive skills are impressive.  And the guy is as tough and fearless as they come. 

CB-Chris Paul (6‘, 175)

Paul possesses a lot of the characteristics that make up a good cornerback.  He is quick as a cat, has good body control and balance, and has fantastic anticipation and reaction skills.  With underestimated leaping ability, he can go up and compete for 50/50 balls as well.  During his childhood, football was the sport that earned him the most attention, lining up at quarterback and linebacker among other positions. 

Backups: Derek Fisher (6’1", 210), Jason Terry (6’2", 180)

SS-Deron Williams (6‘3", 205)

At the strong safety position I was looking for someone who could play the pass and be tough enough to take on bruising running backs.  I found my guy in Deron Williams.  He is quick for a player his size yet always plays under control.  You need someone with his discipline playing at safety.  

Oh yeah, he was a two-time state wrestling champ as a youth so I have no question he is tough enough and can take anyone down to the ground he tackles.     

Backup: Ben Gordon (6’3", 200)

FS-Andre Iguodala (6‘5", 210)

Iguodala is very athletic and a great defender on the hardwood.  I’m betting he would make for a sound free safety with his array of qualities.  His six foot five frame would make it tough for the quarterback to get the ball over his head.  Also, his smarts and agility are pertinent when you have to decide on which receiver to cover when you have multiple receivers coming your way at full speed.

Backup: Raja Bell (6’5", 215)

K-Steve Nash (6‘3", 180)

Nash is a talented soccer player, always dribbling the ball with his feet during play stoppages.  I’m sure he would excel as a place kicker.  And if you want to try a fake field goal, send a lineman to set a pick and roll for Nash to get around the end for the first down. 

P-Rasheed Wallace (6’11", 230)

In football he can kick the ball into the stands and not get a technical for it, just bad field position.

Ret.-Rajon Rondo (6’1", 170), Leandro Barbosa (6’3", 200)

Both players are insanely fast and slippery with a basketball in their hands.  Why not with a football?

Okay, so I said I wasn’t going to do offensive linemen but how about these guys: 

Just get Shaq in there, bring back Oliver Miller and “Big Country” Bryant Reeves and two of those sumo wrestlers you see at NBA halftime games, there’s your five.

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