The NFL Draft is almost here, the important event where teams assemble young talent to be a part of their organization. However, what if current NFL players were picked to be a part of a soccer or fútbol team?
Starting out with a basic 4-4-2 soccer formation, first is the goalkeeper. After talking with a few people, I settled on T.J. Watt. The 6’4 linebacker has the ability to get to the quarterback fast in football, and I can see that same agility and awareness block incoming shots. In the 2021 season Watt had 22.5 sacks, which is a lot in the NFL. This means he had to get around offensive linemen fast. His quickness would also be a key role when it’s one on one against an opponent.
In a 4-4-2 formation there are two forwards. Two people that stand out to me to be the starting forwards are Evan McPherson and Tyreek Hill. After doing some digging and reaching out, I learned that Bengals kicker Evan McPherson used to play forward in high school. Not only does McPherson have a strong leg, but he has speed and good accuracy. Those key attributes are what helps shape a starting forward. As for Tyreek Hill, he’s fast, he has great route running. Great route running most likely equates to good footwork which is what a starting forward needs. With Hill’s speed, the duo between him and McPherson would be ruthless to opposing defenders.
Wide midfielders can be defined as people with great accuracy and good footwork. There are two wide midfielders in a 4-4-2 formation. It’s only fitting that the triple crown winner Cooper Kupp would be a winger then. His route running and speed is always seen throughout his play, and his footwork is a big reason why he can break that first or second tackle. Now the wide midfielders in a 4-4-2 normally help on offense and defense, so for Kupp’s partner on the other side of the pitch I chose J.C. Jackson. The cornerback had eight interceptions in the 2021 NFL season, and when you look at his plays he always fights to get a hand on the ball. Jackson’s ability to fight for the football and try to take it away from wide receivers is exactly what would help him with being a wide midfielder. Obviously Cooper Kupp and J.C. Jackson play on opposite sides of the ball, but that would probably help elevate each other in soccer.
Now the central midfielder position was a tricky one to fill with NFL players, but only a few guys fit this category. There are two central midfielders in a 4-4-2 formation, and normally one goes up to help offense while the other stays back at half field, or vice versa. The biggest characteristic of being a midfielder is being able to have ball control. Which is why I picked running backs Joe Mixon and Aaron Jones. In the 15-16 games they played in, both had two fumbles but only lost one. Mixon is known to always be careful with the football, and it’s always surprising to see him fumble. Same goes for Aaron Jones, very careful with the football and never fumbles. Now another strength of being a midfielder is having good footwork, which a 1,000 yarder rusher obviously must have. Mixon racked up 1,205 yards in the 2021 NFL season, and his patience in finding a hole created by his linemen are a big reason for it. Now Aaron Jones may not have racked up 1,000 yards this season, but his strength in being able to break tackles and get extra yardage is what would help him become a great midfielder. Mixon and Jones would be able to co-exist amongst each other as midfielders, especially with the two being running backs.
In a 4-4-2 formation there are two fullbacks, and those fullbacks have to calm when under pressure and capable of being one on one with an opponent. Which is exactly why cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Denzel Ward. Jalen Ramsey is known to be one of the best cornerbacks in coverage in the NFL, which is why it’s hard for quarterbacks to throw to their top wide receiver when they are being guarded by Ramsey. The ballhawk cornerback may have only had four interceptions in the 2021 season, but the Super Bowl champion was able to lock down top wide receivers this year. Now Denzel Ward is a different type of cornerback, but same goes with making it tough on quarterbacks when throwing his way. Ward may have only had three interceptions, but the remarkable interception he had was the 99-yard pick-six against the Cincinnati Bengals on the goal line. Fullbacks need to make quick decisions when an opponent is rushing to the goal trying to score, and when one-on-one I believe Ramsey and Ward would be great at the fullback position.
The last position remaining are the center backs, the players who must have perfect positioning to keep opponents from getting a shot on goal. One position comes to mind when thinking of center backs, which are middle linebackers. Bobby Wagner and Fred Warner come to mind when thinking of center backs. Bobby Wagner who was part of the Seattle Seahawks Legion of Boom was and still is a very good middle linebacker. The future Hall of Famer is still very capable of making plays and being able to track the quarterback’s eyes, which is why I believe in his ability to fit the center back position very well. As for Fred Warner, the 6’3 middle linebacker is one of the top players in his position, and his ability to track the ball and opponents is a key reason why he comes to mind. In the playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, Warner proved he was a force to be reckoned with, and will stop his opponents from reaching their goal. Which is exactly why Fred Warner would be able to stop opponents from reaching the goal. Warner and Wagner are two different players, one a future Hall of Famer and the other a rising star, the talent they bring would make them a great duo in the backfield.
A quick recap of the positions:
Forwards: Evan McPherson and Tyreek Hill
Wide Midfielders: Cooper Kupp and J.C. Jackson
Central Midfielders: Joe Mixon and Aaron Jones
Fullbacks: Jalen Ramsey and Denzel Ward
Center Backs: Bobby Wagner and Fred Warner
Goalkeeper: T.J. Watt