ESTRADA COLUMN: Football players in the MMA cage

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, September 5, 2015

By David Estrada
News MMA columnist

With football season among us this week’s column will be a fun one for football and combat sports fans alike.
One may wonder what would happen if NFL football players took a crack at mixed martial arts competition. Considering a typical position’s size, skills, athletic ability and other attributes, which one would be the most dominant at fighting?
Another way to view it is to imagine if all NFL players took several years off to train in MMA, which position would have the most success in cage fighting? Well let’s lay it out and see.
Not Cage-worthy
Kicker – Although their legs kicks would be a strength, they’d lack the size, range and toughness to compete against other positions. Case in point Bill Gramatica who injured his knee while celebrating.
Cornerback – Fast and agile out in the open field, it would not translate well to the cage. They would lack the size and power to win and would fall prey to most other positions.
Close but not in Contention
Running back – They, like the kicker, could develop a formidable kick boxing attack but could be a bit undersized. There are some exceptions such as Herschel Walker who has a fifth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and was successful in two Strikeforce MMA bouts. Walker is of course an atypical with his once-in-a-genaration athletic ability.
Safety – Unlike the cornerback the safety has a killer instinct. With the softening of the game through NFL rules, the safety would be set free in the cage. Imagine Ronnie Lott or Rodney Harrison in the cage.
Top Contenders
No. 5 ranked contender: Wide receiver – This was a tough one to decide because of wide range of size at WR (longtime Panther Steve Smith Sr. to Lion Calvin “Megatron” Johnson). It’s certain that the wide receiver would be one of the most exciting to watch and the larger players could have a Jon “Bones” Jones-like fighting style.
No. 4 ranked contender: Linebacker – They already hit other players so toughness and aggression is already engrained in them. Their tackling skills could lead to a good takedown wrestling-type fighting style.
No. 3 ranked contender: Offensive Lineman – Size is a big factor here. The offensive lineman would have exceptional footwork. Not very limber to have a strong grappling game, this position would use its elusiveness to counterstrike with devastating power.
No. 2 ranked contender: Quarterback – Considered one of the smartest positions one could envision the QB becoming a master Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter. Couple that with strong arm strength that would translate well to striking this would be a well-rounded fighter.
No. 1 ranked contender: Defensive lineman – See offensive lineman but instead of using footwork to counterstrike the defense lineman would have aggression and press the action. The defensive lineman with their size and power would be the kings of first round knockouts. Their style would be akin to UFC heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Junior Dos Santos.

Tight end – Their size and versatility would translate well to MMA. The tight end has the size and footwork of an offensive lineman, the athletic ability of a wide receiver and the mind to handle multiple tasks well. They’re range and toughness would be unmatched as they’re the position who catches seemingly out of reach passes and takes a licking. Imagine Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Gates, and former tight ends Kellen Winslow and Shannon Sharpe in the cage. Tight end would have the most success and would own the imaginative title.

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David Estrada Jr.