Specialization? Vast majority of NFL first-round picks played multiple sports in HS

Ezekiel Elliott, the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft, played three sports in high school. (Tamil Krzaczynski, USA TODAY Sports)

As passing camps, training regimens and spring practices have transformed football into a yearlong commitment — just as travel teams have done in other sports — the multi-sport athlete certainly seemed to be going the way of the dodo bird. But seeming isn’t believing.

In fact, 26 of the 31 first-round NFL Draft picks on Thursday played multiple sports at the high school level, according to Tracking Football, which has followed the trend since 2008.

As the website noted on Twitter, No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff played football, basketball and baseball for Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.), although he gave up basketball as a sophomore year and baseball as a junior. Likewise, No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott played basketball and ran track in addition to lacing up the cleats for Burroughs (St. Louis). Elliott was a state champion sprinter and hurdler on top of playing basketball through his senior year.

Goff and Elliott were two of the nine first-round picks who played three sports in high school, and another 17 participated in at least two sports, according to Tracking Football. Track was the most popular second sport among first-round NFL picks, with 17 of the 31 players selected also competing on the oval. Fifteen played basketball, and two played baseball.

This year’s trend is right in line with the previous three, as between 81 and 91 percent of players drafted in the first round since 2013 have played multiple sports, per Tracking Football.