Now that the NFL season is a bust, it's time for all of the players to find new jobs. What better place to start than in another professional sports league?
The 2011 NBA draft is approaching quickly, so let's go ahead and assume that all of the now-former NFL players submit their names and become eligible for the draft. Let's also assume that every single college basketball player and international player immediately decides they no longer want to play the sport and withdraws.
I know it's a big assumption, but just bear with me here.
If that happened, which NFL players would get to walk across the stage and shake David Stern's hand while donning a new uniform and hat?
Well, read on to find out.
When you make the first overall pick in any draft, you're looking for an elite blend of name recognition, superstar potential and talent.
Antonio Gates is one of those rare players in the NFL that has all three when it comes to basketball. As one of the NFL's premier tight ends of all-time, Gates is an unquestioned superstar and any sports fan knows his name.
Moreover, if you listen to any San Diego Chargers broadcast, the announcers inevitably mention Gates' prowess at another sport. When he was in college, the two-sport star managed to receive Honorable Mention All-American honors during his senior season in which he averaged 20.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while leading the Kent State Golden Flash to the Elite Eight.
No other player would bring this kind of talent to the NBA and Minnesota would be lucky to have him.
It may seem like an odd choice to have a kicker drafted second overall in this mock, but Cleveland is in an odd situation.
After the devastating aftermath of LeBron James' decision to leave Cleveland for Miami, the Cavaliers are desperate not only for a great player, but also someone who will be loyal.
The Cavs can address the former issue later in the draft, later in the lottery in fact, but the latter is a bigger need right now. So when looking through the players in the NFL, Cleveland brass are sure to realize that no player is more loyal than the Detroit Lions' Jason Hanson.
The two-time Pro Bowler holds multiple NFL records and is also the active leader when it comes to most years spent with one team. The 18 seasons that Hanson has spent in Detroit leaves the kicker behind only Lou Groza in that category.
The 6'0" tall, oft-injured wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts may never have played basketball in any competitive league, but he's still got a lot of things going for him on Toronto's draft board.
He would bring a certain level of toughness to a Raptors squad that is a bit lacking in that area. But he would also bring fans to see him play.
After all, Collie is the best Canadian-born player in the NFL so it only makes sense that the lone NBA team located in Canada would want to take him in the draft.
In addition to the leadership that Tony Gonzalez would bring to a young Washington Wizards team, he would also bring a good bit of basketball talent.
Gonzalez played both football and basketball while he attended the University of California. Although he was much more talented on the gridiron, the bright lights of the basketball court didn't bother him at all.
During his junior year as a Golden Bear, he was a part of the squad that made the Sweet 16. Gonzalez averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game that season.
Not many people remember that Terrell Owens went to the small college known as the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Even fewer remember that T.O. went there because the Mocs were one of the few programs that would allow him to play both football and basketball.
Owens started five games during his collegiate career and was a part of the Tennessee-Chattanooga team that advanced to the NCAA tournament in 1996.
If the Sacramento Kings are worried about a decline in his skills, they should just look to the 2008 Celebrity Basketball Game at that year's All-Star Weekend. During that game, Owens played well enough to be named MVP.
The Utah Jazz need someone who can help them score and who could possibly help them do that more than current New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady, to the best of my knowledge, has never really played basketball, but he's cerebral enough to pick up the game quite quickly. And we all know he can lead his teams to high point totals.
After all, in 2007 he threw more touchdown passes in a single season than any quarterback in NFL history, when he connected with Randy Moss and his other receivers for 50 scores.
The Detroit Pistons have always been a tough, hard-nosed basketball team. That's the identity that they built with the Bad Boys of the late 1980s and early 1990s and have maintained into the present day.
Well actually, just like their win total, the toughness has been slipping away in recent years.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison could reinvigorate the unit. No player in the NFL embodies toughness more than the man who literally knocked out multiple offensive players during the last season.
Cleveland may look at Brandon Marshall's troublesome past in the Mile High City as a red flag, but his talent on a basketball court is sure to put up an even bigger green light.
Remember that Marshall is the guy that claimed he was going to try out for an NBA team if the NFL actually did lockout.
The wide receiver lettered in basketball back in high school, plus he's 6'4" and can jump pretty well.
The majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, Michael Jordan absolutely has some sway in who his team selects in this draft.
Now, as we all know, Michael Jordan made the somewhat controversial decision to retire and then unretire, rejoining the Washington Wizards for his second stint in the NBA.
I'm going to go ahead and assume that he likes players that are indecisive and waffle back and forth between retirement and unretirement.
Sound like anyone we know that wears a No. 4 jersey?
One of the greatest players to ever step onto an NFL field, Peyton Manning simply cannot slip out of the top 10 in any draft.
It doesn't matter that he's probably not a great basketball player. Manning simply knows how to win games.
And, if the whole NBA thing doesn't work out, Manning can at least make great commercials for the Bucks.
At 6'3", Clay Matthews has the size necessary to play in the NBA. He also has the toughness.
Matthews is an absolute master at working his way into opposing teams' backfields and seeking out the quarterback like a honing missile.
Golden State, a fun-to-watch team with offense galore and no defense to speak of, should take the Green Bay Packer and hope that his defensive ability translates from one sport to another.
Donovan McNabb has been a very good quarterback in the NFL for quite some time, but not many people know that he's quite adept at basketball as well.
Back in the day, McNabb was a reserve for Syracuse's basketball team for two years. One of those years, 1996, saw the Orange make it all the way to the NCAA championship game before falling to Kentucky.
Clearly, he was a pretty good player. He may only have been a reserve, but that still means he had a lot of talent on the hard-court.
Steve Nash isn't getting any younger and may be leaving the city that he's called home for so long sooner rather than later.
Phoenix needs to find someone that can run the show after the point guard who has won multiple MVP awards is gone.
Who better than the signal caller that just engineered a fantastic Super Bowl-winning run for the Green Bay Packers?
Jimmy Graham may only have 29 receptions and four touchdown catches in his short NFL career and he may not be too well-known to fans outside of New Orleans, but he is one of the few players in the league that was a quality basketball player at the college level.
Graham spent four years playing for the Miami Hurricanes and received minutes in each of those four seasons. During his junior year, Graham averaged 6.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game before putting up 4.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a senior.
Was he great? No.
But he was serviceable and that's more than many other NFL players can say.
As the Indiana Pacers are proving during the 2011 NBA playoffs, they are capable of playing excellent defense but struggle to score at times.
Because of that, the management needs to hope that Arian Foster isn't just a flash in the pan and draft the talented Houston Texans running back.
After all, no skill player in the NFL was better at finding paydirt during the 2010 regular season. Foster, during his epic transition from zero to hero, scored on the ground a ridiculous 18 times last year, more than any other running back in the league.
The 6'3" wide receiver for the Houston Texans might be the most talented wide receiver in the NFL, giving the Philadelphia 76ers hope that his skill in one sport can remain when he switches to the other.
Johnson can jump as well as anyone and he can absolutely catch. Throwing up alley-oops to him could be a fairly good strategy a few times a game.
Plus, Philly fans love a guy who loves to fight, a trait which Cortland Finnegan can assure you that Johnson has.
The 6'7" all-everything defensive end currently playing for the Chicago Bears may not be big enough in the traditional sense to play on the inside for the New York Knicks, but he's tough enough to bang around with anyone in the NBA.
Drafting Peppers, one of the best in the game on defense, would give the Knicks some much-needed toughness on the interior in addition to shoring up the center position.
Chris Johnson is undoubtedly one of the absolute fastest players in the entire NFL. That speed would definitely transfer over to the NBA, where he'd probably be even quicker baseline-to-baseline without his pads on.
Can you imagine Chris Johnson on a fast break with John Wall and JaVale McGee? If the Wizards brass can, a very scary combination could be in the works.
The Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith may only be 5'9", but hey, smaller players have made it in the NBA before. Additionally, Smith's vertical jump is at least comparable to Spud Webb, Mugsy Bogues, Earl Boykins and the other small guards in the league's history.
Charlotte needs help at almost every single position, so Smith will be able to play all over the court. Plus, the Bobcats already took Brett Favre earlier in the draft, so imagine the long bombs that will be thrown the length of the court in Charlotte during the 2011-2012 season.
Ndamukong Suh, just one year removed from being the literal big man on campus at Nebraska, is already well on his way towards becoming the best defensive player in the entire NFL.
He's practically a brick wall in the middle of the Detroit Lions defensive line. If the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him, they could just let him take up the entire paint and bully around other big men. He and Kevin Love would be absolutely amazing together.
Portland is another one of those NBA teams that occasionally finds itself struggling mightily on the offensive side of the court. Roddy White, as you may have guessed by now, is a player that could ease those struggles.
White, the 6'0" wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous receivers not only in the NFC South, but in all of the sport's biggest league.
When White was in high school, he lettered in four sports: football, baseball, soccer and wrestling. But hey, why not add one more?
Tim Tebow has been a media sensation everywhere he's gone. No player was more hyped in college. No player was more talked about during the 2010 NFL draft.
Then he went to the Denver Broncos and his jersey sold out everywhere. Tebow is simply a cult figure.
There is no way that the local team could resist picking him up in this draft.
The Houston Rockets very well may be losing Yao Ming in free agency during this coming offseason, meaning they'll have to bring in a new physical specimen to replace him. Not that Ming spent much time on the court at all, but that's beside the point.
Who better to replace the tallest man in the NBA with than one of the heaviest men in the history of the NFL?
If the Rockets drafted all 360 pounds of Leonard Davis, they'd get another one of those players that essentially fills up the paint all by himself. Imagine trying to get around Davis to fight for a rebound.
You can't do it, can you?
Really the only thing that the Oklahoma City Thunder need at this point is a good center. Sam Presti's team is marvelously well put together and should be in contention for a long time, but drafting Justin Tuck may put them over the top.
One of the best linemen in the NFL, Tuck lined up for the New York Giants all season and was an absolute nightmare for any opposing offensive players.
He stands 6'5" but he reminds me a lot of Kenneth Faried in that he plays much bigger than his height indicates.
Just like the Thunder, the Boston Celtics are really only missing a standout center. After all, you're not really going to try to replace Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen or Kevin Garnett.
Max Starks is without question a big enough man to play center in the NBA.
Starks was a two-time all-conference selection when he played basketball back in high school, but he chose to move to football exclusively when college rolled around.
He stands 6'8" and weighs 345 pounds so he's fully capable of banging around with the other big bodies in the NBA.
There are definitely games where the Dallas Mavericks are forced to rely way too much on Dirk Nowitzki. Now, there are absolutely worse players in the NBA to have to rely on, but sometimes the team could use some offensive help.
That's where Larry Fitzgerald comes in. Over the last few years, Fitzgerald has been one of the best and most consistent offensive playmakers in the NFL, even though he hasn't always had the greatest quarterbacks feeding him the ball.
At this point in the draft, it would be absolutely crazy to pass up one of the NFL's premier talents. Adrian Peterson is without a doubt one of the best running backs in the league.
He's fast, powerful, quick, skilled and so many more positive adjectives that have to do with athleticism. If you've ever seen the commercial where he runs without his shirt on, you'll have no doubt that Peterson can play whatever sport he wants to.
The Chicago Bulls earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they're having a bit of trouble dispatching the Indiana Pacers. While they've won three out of the first four games of the series, they've had trouble putting up a lot of points and each game has been fairly tight.
Derrick Rose needs some of the scoring burden to be eased. Of the players left to pick from, perhaps no one can help with that more than Michael Vick, who could light it up through the air and on the ground in the NFL.
He's absolutely quick and nimble enough to make it as a guard in the NBA.
I honestly think that Troy Polamalu could end up being a good defensive guard if he fully committed himself to it.
He's so good at diagnosing plays and reacting to them. The safety just always seems to be in the right place at the right time. And he's no slouch when it comes to physicality.
Plus, even though he only stands 5'10", without a helmet matting down his long, flowing locks, he might be able to pass for 6'6".
Now that the Chicago Bulls have added a stellar offensive player to their squad with the selection of Michael Vick, anyone else they get in the first round is just gravy. That means they just have to pick the most talented player left.
Patrick Willis exploded onto the NFL scene in 2007 when he was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year and he hasn't looked back since. Just this last year, he ran away with ESPN.com's vote for the best linebacker in the league.
He's too good a talent to just pass up in the first round.