Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wednesday (Oops) Feature: If They Played in the NFL

Sorry for the late post. Weird week. Anyway, I'll be playing catch-up for a day or two here to get this thing straight. This week, I'll focus on the big sports business of the moment, and hit up someone who's currently having a big week in another sport:

Alex Rodriguez
3B, New York Yankees
6'3", 228 lbs

Position: Wide Receiver

Love him or hate him, call him a ton of insulting nick-names (A-Roid or A-Fraud are personal favorites), no one can deny A-Rod's freakish athleticism. His height/weight combination are almost ideal for an NFL wide receiver, though I've heard he was heavily recruited as a quarterback when he was in high school.

What makes me lean toward receiver with Rodriguez is his speed, something which is less of an asset as a QB, and his intangibles, which do not lend themselves to leadership (putting it nicely). While not necessarily known as a speed guy or base-stealer, A-Rod is a more than capable base runner with plenty of speed to be a factor in a running game. He is a well-known work out warrior, and spends a lot of time honing his craft. Imagine if he spent that kind of time working on his route running, or catching passes from a Jugs Machine. Freak, right?

It's hard to project a power-hitting baseball player like A-Rod into the NFL because, well, power-hitting doesn't really have a parallel in football. The best I can do with that is say that his upper-body strength would probably help his pass-catching, as strong arms and hands make for sure catches and few fumbles. With that kind of muscle mass, he would be very effective going over the middle and taking some big hits. Then again, no one ever accused A-Rod of being tough or gritty.

The knock on A-Rod, and the thing that just screams "NFL Wide Receiver," is his off-the-field attitude. He's a prototypical diva, a party boy, and can't stand to not be in the spotlight. The good thing is that he keeps his antics off the playing field, and only gets into media trouble after game time. So when imagining Alex Rodriguez as a receiver, I picture the playing ability and style of Larry Fitzgerald, with the attitude of Randy Moss. I can easily see A-Rod dogging it when plays don't come his way, half-heartedly blocking on runs, but making great SportsCenter catches.

Alex Rodriguez has often had the label of "choker," as he has typically performed not badly, but miserably in big spots and big games. However, anyone paying attention to this year's ALCS has seen A-Rod shed that label in a big way, playing light's out at big moments. So taking into account his current play, I can't worry about him in the playoffs or Super Bowl.

Just looking at A-Rod's athleticism, he of course seems like a good fit for Al Davis and the Raiders. But when I think of teams that both have a need and have a system that he'd fit in, I look at a team like the Rams or Redskins. Both run a West Coast offense, which focuses on quick reads and timing. A guy like A-Rod would get open fast (quick read), and would run tight routes to aid his quarterback (timing). The Rams need him worse, and Marc Bulger would do just about anything for a receiver with that size and ability.

Picks will be up a day late; I should have them posted tomorrow. I've made them, but they take a while to type. Sorry!


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