The athletic ability of NFL players really should never be forgotten.
Houston’s 295-pound defensive end J.J. Watt lined up at receiver in the first quarter of the Pro Bowl, and ran a decent route against Bears cornerback Charles Tillman on a ball that went through his hands. When Watt lined up again at receiver in the fourth quarter, the NFC countered with Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul at cornerback against him.
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck threw to Watt, and Pierre-Paul was right there in coverage and picked off the pass in the end zone.
To recap, a defensive end lined up at cornerback against a defensive end lining up at receiver and he picked off one of the best young quarterbacks in the game.
Like Watt, Pierre-Paul is a ridiculous athlete. He’s 270 pounds but ran the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in about 4.7 seconds and moves as gracefully as most anybody in the NFL. One play on the perimeter from the 9-yard line against Watt doesn’t mean he can cover A.J. Green stride for stride, but it’s still pretty remarkable.
Truth is, many NFL players could probably play different positions with enough time to learn them. The level of athleticism on a NFL field is incredible. If, for example, Adrian Peterson grew up wanting to be an outside linebacker, or Von Miller loved the thought of being a running back when he was young, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine them starring on the other side of the ball.
Watt’s turns at receiver were fun, and so was Pierre-Paul’s interception (Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson also got a little bit of time at receiver). If we’re going to see more players experimenting at different positions, let’s bring back the Pro Bowl next season. Who’s up for seeing Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh try out some running back next January?