Drafting an NFL Roster With Utah Jazz Players
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With the NFL draft making up the next three nights of sports viewership, the NBA may feel even further removed from the forefront in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, just because these Utah Jazz players found success on the hardwood, doesn’t mean they couldn’t have doubled as good, or even great NFL players. With that in mind, we at KSL Sports created the best possible NFL roster made up purely of current and former Jazz players.
Quarterback: John Stockton – 6’1, 185 lbs
Every great football team needs a great signal-caller and there may be no player in NBA history that better encapsulates the ability to read a defense and deliver a timely pass than John Stockton.
Not many point guards in #NBA history could thread the needle like John Stockton #KSLSportsArchive #TakeNote @utahjazz pic.twitter.com/1lN89qOoW2
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) March 25, 2020
On top of his fantastic arm, Stockton has a knack for clutch play and was never rattled late in games. Need to run the two-minute drill with 80 yards of green grass in front of you? Stockton is your man.
Additionally, he’s a smart and nimble scrambler. Though he won’t call his number often, preferring to get his teammates involved, he’s a true dual-threat when the pocket collapses.
He may lack the traditional size for the position, but he has huge hands and thinks the game as well as anyone at the position. Think Drew Brees or Russell Wilson.
Running Back 1: Deron Williams – 6’3, 205 lbs
Deron Williams might not be the fastest back in the league, but he’s a true workhorse with a frame that can stand up to a beating. He rarely gets sped up with the ball in his hands, allowing him to find the holes in the defense a la Le’Veon Bell.
At his size, he can help in pass protection, and his hands make him a threat in the passing game. As one of the strongest backs in the league, he’s nearly impossible to stop in short-yardage situations.
Running Back 2: Rickey Green – 6’1, 170 lbs
If Deron Williams is the thunder, Rickey Green is the lightning. He’s small but extremely elusive, and if he gets in the open field he’s a threat to take it to the house.
April 23, 1986: Rickey Green had 32 points and 8 assists helping the @utahjazz avoid elimination in Game 3 of their best of five playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks. He was 12 of 18 from the field. #takenote #NBA #KSLSportsArchive pic.twitter.com/zpYOZiwlZM
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) April 23, 2020
Dubbed ‘The Fastest of them All’ if Green finds the lane and hits the crease, he’s a homerun threat every time he touches the ball.
Left Tackle: Al Jefferson – 6’10, 290 lbs
Though he isn’t a traditional mauler, with the increased athleticism of defensive ends in the league, offensive tackles need to have exceptional feet. Al Jefferson had masterful footwork in the low post and a strong upper body.
More of a technician than an athlete, Jefferson’s overall size and nimbleness make him worthy of a first-round draft pick at tackle.
Left Guard: Antoine Carr – 6’9, 230 lbs
What Al Jefferson lacks in toughness, Antoine Carr makes up for on the left side of the line. Carr has an excellent combination of speed and strength, making him a threat in the run game as a pulling guard.
Center: Robert Whaley – 6’10, 260 lbs
Offensive lines need size, athleticism, and a little bit of crazy, think Richie Incognito. Whaley has an absolutely massive frame with top shelf athleticism for his size allowing him to support his guards in the run game with the ability to pull in either direction.
Right Guard: Mike Brown – 6’9, 260 lbs
Like Carr, Mike Brown brings a combination of strength, athleticism, and true toughness to the guard position, hence the nickname “Brown Bear.”
At 6’9, 260 lbs Brown wasn’t afraid to mix it up in the low post and displayed underrated footwork for his size. His nimble feet make him an ideal partner on the right side of the line next to the team’s right tackle.
Right Tackle: Billy Paultz – 6’11, 240 lbs
If you’re looking for an old school mauler of an offensive lineman, look no further than Billy Paultz. Is there a better nickname for a right tackle than “The Whopper?”
Paultz was big and nasty, even luring the usually docile Hakeem Olajown into throwing a sucker punch in a game against the Jazz during the 1985 playoffs. He had great strength, size, and long arms making him the prototype for the modern right tackle.
And if you ever wondered if there was a Billy Paultz tribute video made after his Game 5 performance against the Rockets set to Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" the answer is YES!!!!!! #TeamIsEverything #UtahJazz #NBA #NBAPlayoffs @KSL5TV @kslsports https://t.co/mswkFuB8kZ pic.twitter.com/ypqu4wN2C8
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) April 11, 2019
Tight End: Karl Malone – 6’9, 250 lbs
Karl Malone could have filled any number of roles on an NFL roster with his combination of size, strength, and athleticism. Whether it be at left tackle or defensive end, Malone would have been a multi-time All-Pro.
However, with his exceptional hands, speed in the open field, and a desire to block, “The Mailman” could have gone down as the greatest tight end in NFL history. Just as Tom Brady has Rob Gronkowski, QB Stockton could count on Malone as a downfield threat whenever he needed a big play.
For Karl Malone’s 56th Birthday we showcase John Stockton hitting Malone down the court to win Game 4 of the 1997 NBA Finals. #NBABreakdown pic.twitter.com/nOusSYw4nH
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) July 24, 2019
While the modern TE may not be asked to block as much as they once were, Malone would be an absolute nightmare as a chip blocker before releasing into a pass route.
Wide Receiver: Darrell Griffith – 6’4, 190 lbs
With a reported 48 inch vertical leap, that’s right, 48 inches(!!!) Griffith is a go up and get it type of wideout who can high point a ball against any defensive back in the league.
He’s got quick feet allowing him to release into his routes quickly and strong ball skills as a playmaker. He’s not the shiftiest pass catcher in the league, but his leaping skills make him a tremendous red-zone threat.
Slot Receiver: Donovan Mitchell – 6’1, 215 lbs
Like Griffith, Mitchell brings incredible athleticism to the wideout position and can high point balls against the best corners in the league.
With an innate ability to spin away from defenders, and good hands, Mitchell is an ideal option on third down to convert on quick-hitting pass routes.
Spida put that pass ON A ROPE 😲 @spidadmitchell (via @utahjazz) pic.twitter.com/pScrYOlJFd
— Overtime (@overtime) November 24, 2019
As a former high school pitcher, Mitchell also sports one of the strongest arms in basketball making him a trick play threat in the passing game a la Antwaan Randle El. He may not have Taysom Hill’s size, but he’s a swiss army knife in his own right and adds tremendous versatility to the team.
Wide Receiver: Jeremy Evans – 6’9, 200 lbs
Admittedly nobody is going to mistake Jeremy Evans for Megatron or Julio Jones anytime soon. He simply doesn’t have the upper body strength that the best wideouts have historically shown. However, Evans is a gazelle in the open field, brings great height to the position and can outleap anyone on the field.
Jeremy Evans will always be best known for his accomplishments in the #NBA Slam Dunk Competition but he had some great in-game dunks with the @utahjazz too. #KSLSportsArchive #TakeNote https://t.co/bhAvmEpeZG pic.twitter.com/7uDPFj4X1x
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) April 14, 2020
Alongside pass-catchers like Karl Malone, Darrell Griffith, and Donovan Mitchell, Evans simply needs to bring size and sure handedness, and he does that.
Defensive End: Paul Millsap – 6’7, 250 lbs
Looking at the value of a dominant pass rusher, Paul Millsap would be one of the top picks in Jazz NFL draft at defensive end.
Millsap brings a combination of speed, strength, quick-twitch athleticism, and tenacity that the best pass rushers in the world possess. Additionally, his adversity allows him to line up as an outside linebacker, or kick inside as an Aaron Donald type of interior pass rusher.
11 points in the final 28 seconds, 8 points in the final 12 seconds by Paul Millsap who rallied the Jazz from 8 down in the final 28 seconds to force overtime. Paul finished with 46 points in one of the great individual performances in Jazz history. #KSLSportsArchive https://t.co/bF4MR8gSit pic.twitter.com/Q0uiKS1ViD
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) March 18, 2020
Defensive Tackle: Derrick Favors – 6’9, 265 lbs
Derrick Favors isn’t Vince Wilfork, but in a 4-2-5 defense Favors size and strength will come in handy better than a traditional hefty nose guard.
At 6’9, Favors is also a major threat to bat down passes against opposing offensive lines and is athletic enough to pressure the quarterback. He fits in well on the four-man unit that is nimble enough to execute a series of stunts to generate pressure.
Defensive Tackle: Jae Crowder – 6’6, 235 lbs
Though Jae Crowder doesn’t bring the strength that Favors possesses, his combination of speed and strength allows him to pressure the quarterback as a pass rusher, or clog lanes against the run.
Crowder also brings a nastiness to the unit that neither Favors or Millsap wear on their sleeve, helping to shape the defense’s identity.
Jae Crowder drops 14 PTS (5-5 FGM) to pace the @utahjazz in the 1st QTR! #TakeNote | #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/h5zVWVhlct
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 23, 2019
Defensive End: Trevor Booker – 6’8, 230 lbs
Booker is an incredible athlete with ideal size as a pass rusher. He’s got long arms and a tenacious motor that allows him to never give up on plays.
He’s got functional length to rush the passer and the range to chase down ball carriers, including the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL. With quick feet and good hands, Booker should be able to assist in coverage when needed as well.
Linebacker: Matt Harpring – 6’7, 230 lbs
Did you know Matt Harpring played football? If you watched any Jazz broadcast in the early 2000s you are undoubtedly aware the former Jazz forward also doubled as a high school quarterback receiving several D-1 offers before committing to basketball at Georgia Tech.
Even if Harprig had remained in football, at 6’5 225 lbs with a bruising mentality, he would likely have moved to defense and flourished as a linebacker, understanding how a QB can diagnose a defense.
Harpring was tough, mean, and smart, a great combination for a linebacker.
Linebacker: Kirk Snyder – 6’6, 230 lbs
What Harpring lacks in raw athleticism, Kirk Snyder brings in droves to the Jazz. With an incredible combination of size and speed, Snyder brings the ideal frame to the linebacker position.
Additionally, Snyder brings an err… violent streak to the field that you need on defense, and can double as a pass rusher.
Cornerback: Raja Bell – 6’5, 200 lbs
Raja Bell might not be the most athletic corner in the league, but he more than makes up for it with athleticism and toughness.
In honor of Raja Bell's birthday, take a look back at the clothesline that shocked the NBA! pic.twitter.com/dj25I7Rja9
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) September 19, 2018
Bell is also an elite competitor who is willing to take on any matchup in the passing game. He’s more Richard Sherman than he is Deion Sanders, but he’s a pit bull who isn’t afraid to mix it up.
Cornerback: Ronnie Brewer – 6’7, 220 lbs
More in the mold of your traditional athletic freak at corner, Ronnie Brewer brings speed, ball skills, athleticism, and length to the position.
If he had better hands, he would have been a wideout, but he’s got a knack for jumping routes and has enough size to match up with the bigger pass catchers in the NFL.
Nickelback: Dante Exum – 6’5, 190 lbs
At nickel, the defense needs a player with the speed to keep up with smaller slot receivers, and the size to take on the occasional pass-catching tight end.
Dante Exum was brilliant in Game 2. He had 9 points and was 2-3 from 3 but he had a monster impact defensively. He matched up with James Harden 22 times in Game 2 and allowed just two points per @SecondSpectrum. Here is TV and radio calls of his 4th quarter dunk pic.twitter.com/O64qLz5kmi
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) May 3, 2018
What he lacks in strength he more than makes up for in speed and size, with incredible closing speed to break up passes and enough length that makes it hard to throw over him.
Safety: Andrei Kirilenko – 6’9, 220 lbs
When you think of rangy center fielders with the ball skills to break up passes and cover ground, Andrei Kirilenko is one of the best defenders in the game.
Andrei Kirilenko was ahead of his time 💯 pic.twitter.com/UKN7zlkFKg
— Whistle (@WhistleSports) February 18, 2020
He’s not a great tackler but opposing wideouts won’t get behind him in the passing game, and he’s athletic enough to help out against the bigger slot weapons in the league.
Safety: Royce O’Neale – 6’4, 225 lbs
Would you dare catch a ball over the middle knowing Royce O’Neale was about to blow you up as soon as you came down with it? With great strength, athleticism, and a nose for the ball, O’Neale is an ideal strong safety in the modern game.
Though he isn’t as rangy as Kirilenko, he brings an added element of toughness and tackling in run defense on the backline.
Place Kicker: Bojan Bogdanovic – 6’8, 215 lbs
Did you know Bojan Bogdanovic once tried to kick a flying bat during a basketball game? If you didn’t, now you know that Bojan Bogdanovic tried to kick a flying bat during a basketball game. He grew up playing soccer and has a knack for kicked in trick shots according to teammate Mike Conley.
Video evidence of Bojan Bogdanovic trying to roundhouse kick a bat. pic.twitter.com/KsDMKg0Dgf
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) February 8, 2019
Punter: Greg Ostertag – 7’2, 280 lbs
In a game against the Portland Trail Blazers in 2000, Greg Ostertag punted the ball into the stands after getting ejected. That’s enough evidence to draft him with a flyer late in the seventh round.
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