Finding success in football can sometimes be as simple as switching positions. Many high school players get switched to different positions in college, and college players sometimes switch in the NFL. Heck, both Josh Cribbs and Julian Edelman played quarterback at Kent State before switching to wide receiver in the league.
But what about players already in the NFL?
We think some of them need a change too—not just cornerbacks who should be safeties or guards who should be tackles, but rather guys who could benefit from a more dramatic change in position. Here are five NFL players who’re playing the wrong position, and where they should be lining up instead.
Terrelle Pryor Would Be a Beast at Tight End
Last season, Terrelle Pryor showed flashes of magic at QB for the Oakland Raiders, but a new team means it’s time for a new position. Pryor is now a free agent, and with most teams set at quarterback, why not give tight end a try?
He has proven he can run as well as catch. He is the prototypical size for a tight end, and he has incredible speed and athleticism. Another good sign Pryor could be a force at tight end? His success on the basketball court. He was a phenomenal basketball player in high school, even momentarily committing to Pitt to play hoops. Players like Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham all have strong basketball backgrounds, where they perfected skills that helped them become game-changing tight ends.
So far in his NFL career, Pryor has thrown more picks than touchdowns, and he currently seems destined for a life of clipboard holding. A switch to tight end could get him back on the field and put his insane athleticism to good use.
Pat O’Donnell, the Most Athletic Guy on the Field Playing the Least Athletic Position
Pat O’Donnell is a punter out of the University of Miami who was drafted in the 6th round by the Chicago Bears. He has a big leg, averaging 47.1 yards per punt his senior year, and he will likely be the starting punter for the Bears this year.
But O’Donnell has so much more to offer than just kicking a ball really high!
An absolute athletic freak, he tore up the NFL Combine. Measuring a solid 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, O’Donnell had 23 reps on the Bench Press (more than Jadeveon Clowney), ran a 4.64 40-Yard Dash (faster than Khalil Mack) and had a solid 30.5″ Vertical Jump (the same as Zach Ertz).
Sure, O’Donnell can boom punts. But for this beast to be on the field for only a few plays per game is a downright travesty. He went stride for stride with Earl Thomas (who runs a 4.43 40-Yard Dash) on a touchdown-saving tackle in the pre-season, and he even forced a fumble in college! We would love to see O’Donnell put his athleticism to good use in a position like wide receiver or outside linebacker.
Carey Spear is a Kicker Who Hits Like a Free Safety
Carey Spear is a kicker out of Vanderbilt who just got cut from the Philadelphia Eagles. That means “Murderleg” is now a free agent.
Yep, that’s Spear’s nickname, bestowed upon him because of the devastating hits he laid on returners in college. Here he is leveling 6-foot-2, 220-pound Cordarrelle Patterson.
In Madden NFL 15, Spear has a 73 hit power rating, the best ever for a kicker, higher than Richard Sherman and Osi Umenyiora, which is downright scary for a kicker.
Apparently Spear wasn’t good enough at putting the ball through the uprights to beat out mediocre Eagles incumbent Alex Henery, so we think a position change is in order. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 194 pounds on Vanderbilt’s official website, Spear has size comparable to Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas. Spear’s fastest 40 was clocked at a 4.76, and he even scored a touchdown in college. Since kicking isn’t working out, why not unleash Murderleg in the defensive backfield?
Tim Tebow Could Be a Great Change-of-Pace Back
Though not currently in the NFL, Tim Tebow has been training hard and staying in fantastic shape while waiting for another shot. If he really wants to break back into the NFL, Tebow should working on his skills at running back. The thought has been explored before, but it never really came to fruition.
Why do we think Tebow has a shot at becoming a good back? Pretty simple: he is big and he can move.
At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Tebow is about the same size as Steven Jackson, who built much of his success on earning extra yards and refusing to go down after the first hit. In the three seasons Tebow played in the NFL, he led all QBs in average yards after contact (1.75), proving he doesn’t go down easily.
Tebow can truck defenders, and when you combine his ability to break tackles with decent speed (4.7 40-Yard Dash), you have the ingredients for a solid RB. Have Tebow split carries with a smaller, quicker RB and he could have success.
How awesome would it be to see Tebow take a handoff in a goal-line situation only to have him pull up and throw his patented jump pass to a wide-open receiver?
Julius Peppers Would’ve Been an Amazing Two-Way Player
Back in the old days of the NFL, lots of players pulled double duty and built their legacies on both sides of the ball. But in today’s NFL, two-way players have become a rarity. Too bad, because Julius Peppers would have made a super tight end.
We aren’t saying Peppers made a bad choice by playing defensive end—his skills have led him to eight Pro Bowl appearances and an NFC Defensive Player of the Year award. But we think he could’ve added more awards to his résumé if he had got some time at tight end. At the 2002 NFL Draft Combine, the 6-foot-7, 283-pound Peppers ran a 4.68 40-Yard Dash, absolutely mind-boggling for a player his size. That’s the same time Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski ran, but Peppers was 25 pounds heavier.
Peppers knows how to play with the ball in his hands, too. He racked up 3,501 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns as a running back in high school. He has shown his catching ability in the NFL, pulling down nine interceptions so far in his career. And similar to Pryor, Peppers has a strong basketball background. He was a four-time all-conference power forward in high school, and he played both basketball and football at UNC. Could Peppers have been the best two-way player in NFL history? We’ll never know.