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Which Athlete From Another Sport Would Fit Best in the NFL?

We look to the hardwood, the pitch, the diamond and the tee box to find the athletes we'd most like to see give football a try.

The summer Friday roundtable lives to see another day. Our previous entries: Teams who have improved the most, teams who have improved the least, proposed expansion cities and team names for each, and, finally, which non-quarterback would you choose to start a franchise? Today, we turn our attention away from football players altogether.

We asked our staff members to pick which athlete from another sport they’d pick to put on an NFL field:

Harry Kane, striker, Tottenham Hotspur

Kane, the Golden Boot winner in last summer's men's World Cup, has made no secret of his side dream to become an NFL placekicker. He has even proven his proficiency in this pursuit, having made a 50-yard field goal at the Giants practice facility during a U.S. tour in the summer of 2017. Currently just 25 years old, Kane has plenty of time to make his fantasy a reality. He might miss the window to be teammates with idol Tom Brady, who is also the namesake of one of his dogs (though we'd be silly to assume we know how long Brady will be around). But with the NFL sharing the new Tottenham stadium, if the league ever puts a team in London, Kane could make this happen in a very familiar venue. "I have always said I’d like to try and see if it would be possible,” Kane said after making that 50-yarder in New Jersey. “It depends on how my career goes and injuries and how I age. But if I get to a stage where I am still fit and feel like I can do a job, I’d love to. If they have a team in England, it could work perfectly.” —Jenny Vrentas

Zion Williamson, forward, New Orleans Pelicans

Zion Williamson is the obvious pick here because there is no one more versatile. Maybe I'd have picked LeBron James a few years ago, but the king would be a 35-year-old tight end by the end of this NFL season. The 6' 7", 285-pound Williamson could play any number of positions. He’d be an amazing tight end, no doubt. His strength and length would make him an effective pass rusher off the end. He could slide inside to defensive tackle tomorrow. Or give him a few months at New Orleans’s best restaurants and he could be an offensive tackle. I’ve seen Williamson’s clutch gene in person, when he put Duke on his back to beat the Tar Heels in the ACC tournament and again when he willed the Blue Devils from a first-weekend defeat to Central Florida in the NCAA tournament. You think Khalil Mack is a create-a-player? Williamson is four inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Mack. —Jonathan Jones

Javier Baez, shortstop, Chicago Cubs

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Baez is one of the most elusive players in baseball. He's fast and agile, with cat-like reflexes in the field. He reacts instantly to every play. He's great at stealing bases and the king of tagging would-be runners, often doing so without looking at the runner or the base, just knowing instinctively where he is on the diamond and where the runner is. These impossibly fast reflexes would translate well to receiver or cornerback. I could see Javy pulling down an interception, eyes trained on his receiver, never looking up for the ball and just knowing exactly where it would be. Or I could see him making an acrobatic one-handed catch in the end zone a la Odell Beckham Jr. With Baez's inhuman athleticism, NFL success is easy to envision. And as a bonus, he also can do an intense stare down when the situation calls for it, and I think that brash attitude would translate well to the trash talk you need as a receiver or DB. —Kalyn Kahler

Draymond Green, forward, Golden State Warriors

If you've ever seen Draymond Green grab a rebound and sprint upcourt, opponents bouncing off of him as he drives the lane, you know how well his contact balance and coordination would translate to the football field. If we were allowed to go back in time in this exercise, I'd make him a quarterback due to his uncanny ability to map the court while on the move. However, if—as the gods intended—we're sticking to how athletes would currently translate to the NFL, and therefore taking the unfeasibility of a 29-year-old first-time quarterback into account, I'd still take Green. He would be a force as a tight end, with the physicality and strength to hold up in-line, strong hands and competitiveness to dominate at the catch point, as well as that underneath catch-and-run ability you see so often when he turns defense into offense on the hardwood. Though more than anything, we all know that when push comes to shove on the gridiron sometimes you just need to kick someone in the wiener. Just ask Mean Joe Greene. —Gary Gramling

Brooks Koepka, golfer, PGA Tour

We talk all the time about exploiting inefficiencies. While someone like Zion Williamson is an obvious choice, he’s on the radar of many people. There would be a bidding war. I’m dipping into the PGA to recruit one of the hottest golfers on tour right now. Koepka won the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019, and won the U.S. Open in 2017 and 2018. He finished second at the Masters this year. The 6-foot, 205-pound Koepka could fit anywhere in my offense, and would be an especially useful tool on special teams. I need gamers, and Koepka is a gamer. Men’s Journal recently ranked him as the sixth-most ripped golfer on tour, and they did a second listicle on Koepka called: The 10 times Brooks Koepka Crushed His Workouts At the GymWow! But the tidbit that really sold it for me? In an interview with Golf World, not only does Koepka reveal athletic family ties (his great uncle is two-time World Series winning shortstop Dick Groat), but his determination. From the piece:

At age 10, Koepka fractured his nose and sinus cavity when his babysitter’s car was hit at an intersection. That summer, he couldn’t play any contact sports, so he spent most days at West Palm Beach’s public Okeeheelee Golf Course. Three years later he made his high school’s golf team (as a sixth grader!).

Maybe there isn’t a natural position fit for him right away, but give me a team full of Koepkas and we’ll figure out how to win together. —Conor Orr

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