PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPhoto Illustration by SI PremediaROBERT SEALE FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WATT); GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BACKGROUND)J.J. WATT HAS BAGGED PLENTY OF QUARTERBACKS—BUT WHAT IF HE BECAME ONE? AND WHAT IF ONE OF THE GAME'S BEST QBS WERE BREAKING UP PASSES, NOT THROWING THEM? SI ASKED SOME OF FOOTBALL'S BIGGEST (LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY) STARS WHERE THEY MIGHT PLAY IN THE BIZARRO NFL J.J. WATT Texans DE ... But what if he were a quarterback? "I think deep down everyone wants to be the quarterback. That's the position with the single most control over the game. He gets the most touches and can make the most impact. He's a game-changer. I played QB up until my junior year of high school, and while I like to think I could play that position in the NFL, there's no way. QBs in this league are not only insanely smart, but they have incredible technique, incredible arm strength. But it's fun to pretend." PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPhoto Illustration by SI PremediaCOTY TARR FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WILLIAMS); PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP (BACKGROUND)MARIO WILLIAMS Bills DE ... But what if he were a wide receiver? "I'd be the type of wideout who would go deep and across the middle—that's where all the physical stuff goes on. I have the size, speed and ability to separate from a defender. My touchdown dance? I'd put the ball down and get right back to the huddle. Act like you've been there before.... The coaches have never really said anything about [playing me at receiver], but with Coach Rex, who knows what could happen." PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPhoto Illustration by SI PremediaFRED VUICH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (THOMAS); SCOTT TERNA/CSM (BACKGROUND)JOE THOMAS Browns OT ... But what if he were a punter? "My dad was a punter, and I punted in high school. We had a park in my backyard growing up in Wisconsin, and instead of throwing balls back and forth like most fathers and sons do, we would punt back and forth. I miss doing that. I know my body will give out eventually, being an offensive lineman, but I'll bet that if I really committed to it, I could be a punter in the NFL. Wouldn't that be a funny story?" PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPhoto Illustration by SI PremediaROD MAR FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WILSON); WINSLOW TOWNSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BACKGROUND)RUSSELL WILSON Seahawks QB ... But what if he were a cornerback? "I played corner in high school. I'd be just like that, a physical corner. I'd try to catch you at the line. Lot of press coverage. I think my skills would translate well: I'm shifty, and when you play corner, you have to be able to turn your hips.... A.J. Green? I don't think I'd be able to lock him down.... I never wanted to be anything other than a quarterback. But I have a lot of respect for the corners in our league. It's one of the hardest positions to play in football."
PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPhoto Illustration by SI PremediaJEFF JACOBSEN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (KELCE); DAVID E. KLUTHO FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (BACKGROUND)TRAVIS KELCE Chiefs TE ... But what if he were a quarterback? "I played quarterback my first year of college [at Cincinnati] and switched to tight end before my junior year. I miss being back there, slinging the ball, being that guy everyone can count on for every single play. Once you get to the pros, you leave everything in the past. There's no storytelling about what you used to do. Now you're with the cream of the crop. I'm a tight end now." PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPhoto Illustration by SI PremediaGREGORY SHAMUS FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (LEVY); RON JENKINS/FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM/TNS/GETTY IMAGES (BACKGROUND)DEANDRE LEVY Lions MLB ... But what if he were a running back? "It's the most parallel position to linebacker. You bang every play, find the running lane and hit or get hit. It's all about physicality. I played running back in Pop Warner growing up in Wisconsin, and I was probably the most dominant back in all of the Midwest. If I played running back in the NFL, my speed and power would be unmatched. Just give me a year of training and I can do it." PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONPhoto Illustration by SI PremediaAJ MAST FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HILL); AARON DOSTER/USA TODAY SPORTS (BACKGROUND)JEREMY HILL Bengals RB ... But what if he were a linebacker? "I actually played defensive end in my youth league. I'd like to think I was pretty good, but obviously my coaches thought I'd be a better running back. If I played defensive end in the NFL, I'd have to use my quickness. I'd likely be a speed-rusher-type of guy. But to be honest, there's no way I could play defensive end in today's NFL. Maybe outside linebacker, that's somewhere I could use my speed and creativity, but I'm just not big enough to be the guy on the front line."