By Aaron Jaffe 21’
The game of football is simple. Two teams are pitted against each other on a field where the goal of the game is to finish with more points than the team they are facing. The basic rules and strategies that are found in the NFL are almost identical to those in lower levels of the sport like college and even high school. The major difference you will find from watching a game on a Friday versus Sunday is the players.
On the high-school level, each team is defined greatly by their stars, unlike in the NFL where all 53 players are involved to win a game. The high school coaches do their best to maximize their most influential players in any given game and can do so by having these players play two positions, one on each side of the ball. The star wide receiver on offense may also be the star safety on defense. In the NFL, it’s nearly impossible to play multiple positions as the talent is so great at the highest level there is only a need for a player to play the position he is best at. Being a pro and only training at one position, however, can be crippling to a players’ career because if his spot is taken, there is no backup plan. So the question that has to be asked is what if players who are struggling try to replicate the earliest form of real football and change up their NFL position?
Two players immediately come to mind as ones who were once seen as promising but need a new boost to save their careers. They are not the only players in the league that should consider a change.
- Kansas City Chiefs WR Kelvin Benjamin to Tight End
While a move from wide receiver to tight end isn’t a huge move, it is one that could pay great dividends for any team that convinces Benjamin to make the switch. Standing at 6’5 and weighing in at 243 pounds, Benjamin was a highly ranked prospect entering the draft. The Carolina Panthers, in need of a wide receiver, decided to take the wideout from Florida State in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Now in his fourth full season in the league, Benjamin is on his third NFL roster and hardly sees time on the field. Making a slight position change to tight end will get Benjamin a spot on most rosters as it is currently one of the thinnest areas of talent in the NFL. A once above-average blocker, Benjamin will not only be a great piece in the run game, but also a Benjamin will run the routes of a tight end, creating easier matchups against linebackers instead of faster cornerbacks. Any team that takes a chance (if his position is switched) will see their offense flourish with tons of potential and mismatches.
- Cincinnati Bengals WR John Ross to Free Safety
The easier move for a wideout to make would be to a cornerback but that’s less of Ross’s game. At the 2017 NFL Combine, Ross posted the fastest 40-yard dash at 4.22 seconds, raising his draft stock all the way into the first round where he was taken ninth overall by the Bengals. At 5’11, 190 pounds, Ross is slightly undersized, but with his ability to get down field he had game-breaking potential. In his rookie campaign, Ross only appeared in three games, recording zero catches and one fumble on his only rushing attempt. Ross did make major strides in year two as he improved to 210 yards on 21 catches and 7 touchdowns in 13 games. The Bengals did struggle with injury this year but the transition stage from the NCAA to the NFL has clearly been rough for the former first round pick. By switching from wideout to free safety, Ross can use his speed to make all kinds of plays on defense. He would be great at recognizing routes, jumping plays and helping out corners on one-on-one coverages and his catching skills would be utilized to take advantages of bad throws and force turnovers.