Could LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, and Blake Griffin make an impact in the NFL? I ask this question for a couple reasons. First, I need a break from the NFL labor talks. I need a few days off from hearing about players boycotting the draft and owners scurrying to cover up whatever extraneous expenses they have in their accounting books. Secondly, I believe the NBA is headed for a dispute that will make an episode of Jersey Shore look like a neighborhood book club meeting. The NBA is facing major issues, very nicely talked about by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News
, that could cause an extended lockout that could engulf a couple of NBA seasons.
So what are the NBA elite supposed to do with this newfound time off? Play in Europe? Go the Shawn Kemp route and enter as many hot dog eating contests as they can? I would hope that they would take their talents from the hardwood to the gridiron. Now, I understand not ever NBA player has the ability to do so, but let’s take a look at some of the guys who can.
LeBron looks comfortable with a football in his hands
LeBron James – Could there be a man on the planet better served to play tight end? LeBron already starred as a high school football player so we know he understands the game. At 6’8″, 260 pounds with gazzelle-like speed, incredible hands, and tremendous hand-eye coordination, LeBron would immediately become the focal point of any NFL offense. What linebacker could match his speed? What safety could match his size and strength? Antonio Gates took his talents from the basketball court to the football field and,while healthy, has been the best tight end in the game over the past 6 years. There is no doubt in my mind, LeBron would do the same and surpass what Gates accomplished. Actually, the Cleveland Browns could use a tight end. Would the Dawg Pound be willing to forgive and forget?
Dwight Howard – I cringe at the ways in which I can see Dwight Howard revolutionize the defensive end position in the NFL. Howard, standing at 7’0″ and nearly 270 pounds, has the sheer strength to be able to move an offensive tackle and has a bevy of spin moves, typically used to get to the rim for a dunk, that would allow him to get to the quarterback with ease. His size would immediately take away some of the throwing lanes for shorter quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Michael Vick, and could you imagine lining up for a game-winning field goal with Howard on the opposite side of the line looking to block it? Additionally, Howard would no doubt revel at the chance to begin dishing out some of the punishment similar to what he typically receives playing in the post in a typical NBA game. Julius Peppers was the first guy to utilize his basketball abilities to strike fear into opposing offenses. Dwight Howard could be the next.
Blake Griffin – The rookie sensation does not quite have the size that Dwight Howard does, but his never-ending motor and incredible athleticism would make him an ideal NFL defensive end. At 6’10” and a chiseled 251 pounds, Griffin could find himself playing like a much bigger Trent Cole, keeping offensive linemen constantly on the retreat and using his ability to find open space to wreak havoc in the opposition’s backfield. It also makes sense to keep in mind that no running back would have any chance to pick up Griffin after he beats the offensive tackle. The guy jumps over cars and would have no problem jumping over Darren Sproles.
Derrick Rose – Speed, agility, size to match big receivers, and a flare for the dramatic make an ideal NFL cornerback. Derrick Rose has all of these traits. The likely 2010-11 NBA MVP is a nightmare for opposing coaches as his speed and quickness make him virtually unguardable. At 6’3, Rose can match up with any of the NFL’s big receivers, and when he does make a mistake, his tremendous quickness and incredible leaping ability will help him cover for those mistakes. Lastly, Rose has the competitive fire to want to match up with the opposition’s best. Much like Deion Sanders used to do, I see Rose minimizing an offense’s effectiveness by blanketing a team’s number one option and taking away half the field.
Russell Westbrook – Although Westbrook still is overshadowed by his teammate and defending NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, his abilities continue to impress the entire NBA. Unlike the wiry Durant however, Westbrook’s skills would also allow him to thrive as an NFL wide receiver. On a nightly basis, Westbrook weaves his way through defenses, stopping, starting, cutting, or just flat out racing away from the defense. When it comes to flat out speed, Westbrook is one of the few players in the league who has another gear. He has proven to not shy away from contact, something which he would see a lot more on any given Sunday. Standing at 6’3″ while possessing an uncanny leaping ability, Westbrook would thrive as both a deep threat and a red zone option.
Eventually (and hopefully sooner than later), we know the players and owners will reach an agreement and we will once again be secure in knowing that each and every Sunday between September and February will be spent on the couch watching America’s favorite sport. And while, the basketball-loving side of me will miss the NBA, I would love to see how these players could make an impact on Sundays.