Aaron Judge at tight end? 20 MLB players with NFL potential

The days of two-sport stars in the professional ranks — remember Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders? — may be a thing of the past. But what if they weren’t? Here are 20 MLB players with NFL potential.

Adalberto Mondesi, SS Kansas City Royals

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At  6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, Mondesi might be a little undersized to take the pounding most skill-position players in the NFL endure. But he has one skill that translates well to any sport: speed. Last season he finished second in the American League with 43 stolen bases, and led the league with 10 triples. While he wouldn’t project as an every-down starter, he might make a great gadget player. (Think Devin Hester with the Bears.)

Jeff Samardzija, SP San Francisco Giants

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At 35, he may be a little over the hill, but Samardzija once appeared destined for a future on the football field instead of the pitcher’s mound. In his final two seasons as a wide reciever at Notre Dame, he caught 155 passes for 2,266 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Jackie Bradley Jr., OF Boston Red Sox

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Boston’s sensational center fielder could potentially carve out a role as a wide receiver. Some of the traits that make him a Gold Glover in baseball — soft hands, sensational closing speed — could help him become a terrific route runner and reliable downfield target. He’s related to Michael Jordan, so elite athleticism clearly runs in his veins.

Chris Davis, 1B Baltimore Orioles

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A large contingent of O’s fans will likely tell you Davis might be better at football than baseball at this point. The 34-year-old veteran is one of the least valuable position players in the game. But what if he quit baseball to focus on football? He played quarterback growing up in Texas, and while he doesn’t get a chance to show it off much at first base, he still has a strong arm. Perhaps the Ravens could use another practice squad QB.

Aaron Judge, OF New York Yankees

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Judge was a standout high school football player in California — he received scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA and Washington, among others. During his senior year, he excelled as a dynamic receiving threat and menacing pass rusher. In the NFL, his 6-foot-7, 282-pound frame would make him a dynamic red-zone threat as a tight end.

Franmil Reyes, OF Cleveland Indians

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At 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, Reyes is a mammoth of a man. The 53 home runs he has crushed in only 237 MLB games demonstrate his strength. He would surely need a ton of coaching on techniques and angles, but he has the frame and other attributes to become a serviceable pass rusher.

Alex Gordon, OF Kansas City Royals

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The longest tenured Royal is already one of most accomplished athletes in Kansas City history. The three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove recepient helped the Royals snap a long World Series drought in 2015. As a senior at Lincoln (Neb.) Southeast High School, he had seven interceptions as a defensive back and was named to the all-state team. He also was a receiver. He has the athleticism to make it in the NFL.

Mike Trout, OF Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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Trout didn’t play high school football, instead earning letters in basketball and baseball. But as the best overall player in the sport, it’s hard to believe his athleticism couldn’t translate to the NFL. Trout is sturdily built (6-foot-2, 235 pounds) and has tremendous speed and strength, incredible leaping ability and an excellent arm. He might make a great ball-hawking safety.

Ramon Laureano, OF Oakland Athletics

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Fans of other teams in the AL West have become all too familiar with what the A’s center fielder can do defensively. He catches almost everything in his vicinity, but it’s his arm that has consistently opened eyes. Over the past two years, he has 17 assists, always putting the ball right where he wants it. Could he play QB in the NFL?

Michael Conforto, OF New York Mets

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Conforto played running back for Redmond High School in Washington, and while he was clearly more suited for the batter’s box, he showed potential with the pigskin. He scored eight touchdowns in eight games as a sophomore; his father played linebacker at Penn State.

Dan Vogelbach, DH Seattle Mariners

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Vogelbach, an All-Star last season, is one of the most infectious personalities in baseball. He’s clearly undersized (6-foot, 250 pounds) to play offensive line in the NFL, but he’s scrappy. Perhaps he could play fullback.

Austin Riley, 3B Atlanta Braves

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At DeSoto Central High School in Mississippi, he was a standout baseball and football player (quarterback, running back, linebacker, kicker and punter). At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, he clearly has a good frame to play football.

Eric Thames, 1B Washington Nationals

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Thames has tremendous upper-body strength, and isn’t afraid to show it off. Since coming back to the major leagues from South Korea, the left-handed slugger has crushed 72 homers over the past three years. On the football field, it’s easy to imagine the 6-foot, 210-pounder as a linebacker — if he bulked up.

Ronald Acuna Jr., OF Atlanta Braves

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Similar to Trout, Acuna doesn’t have a football background, but he’s such a freak athlete that it’s easy to iimage him excelling at the sport. The 6-foot, 180-pounder can really fly, so perhaps he’d be a cornerback.

Archie Bradley, RP Arizona Diamondbacks

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Arizona’s closer was a top-rated high school QB in Oklahoma almost a decade ago — he even had a scholarship offer from the OU Sooners. When the Diamondbacks selected him No. 7 overall in the ’11 draft, the seven-figure singing bonus was just too much to turn down in favor of college.

Clayton Kershaw, SP Los Angeles Dodgers

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Kershaw has had a marvelous career that will assuredly end with him enshrined in Cooperstown. At Highland Park High School near Dallas, he was a classmate of Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford. Kershaw was Stafford’s center, and while he’s undersized (6-foot-4, 226 pounds) to play that role at the highest level, it would be fun to see the buddies reunited somehow.

Kyle Schwarber, OF Chicago Cubs

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The Cubs’ slugging left fielder is an imposing man, and he has a frame to play linebacker in the NFL (6-foot, 235 pounds). At Middletown High School in Ohio, Schwarber excelled in football, making all-state at linebacker as a senior. He had several Division I football scholarship offers before he wisely chose a career on the diamond.

Joe Musgrove, SP Pittsburgh Pirates

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At Grossmont High in California, the Pirates’ starter starred in baseball, basketball and football. On the football field, he played mostly on the offensive and defensive lines. Occasionally he was used as a tight end in the red zone, an ideal use of his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame.

Tommy Pham, OF San Diego Padres

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Pham didn’t play high school football, but his chip-on-the-shoulder attitude might serve him well in football. He seems like a guy who would enjoy hitting people on the playing field, perhaps as a defensive back. He would have to add bulk to his 6-foot-1, 215-pound frame.

Ryan McMahon, 2B Colorado Rockies

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The Rockies’ second baseman was an excellent quarterback in high school in California, and could have pursued a career in football had Colorado not drafted him in the second round in 2013. As a senior, he tossed 12 touchdowns against only four interceptions.

Justin Mears is a freelance sports writer from Long Beach Island, NJ. Enjoys being frustrated by the Mets and Cowboys, reading Linwood Barclay novels, and being yelled at by his toddler son. Follow him on twitter @justinwmears.

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