The debate over sports specialization will continue for as long as sports exist. If the numbers laid out by Tracking Football are any indication, one’s best bet to be a top football prospect is to think outside the gridiron.
According to Tracking Football’s research, 30 of the 32 players picked in Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft played multiple sports in high school. That includes No. 1 pick Myles Garrett out of Texas A&M, who also starred in basketball and track and field when he attended Arlington (Texas) Martin.
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The breakdown of the numbers is fascinating. Each of the top 20 picks played at least two high school sports, while 14 of the 32 taken were three-sport athletes. Of all 32 players drafted, the most common sport off the gridiron was predictably track & field, with 22 having competed in the sport (69% of first rounders). Count NFL Combine 40-yard dash record-holder John Ross III, taken No. 9 by the Bengals, among those to shine on the track.
Next up was basketball, with 19 of the 32 draftees having played hoops (59%). After that, there were just two former baseball players in the class (Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes – No. 10 to Chiefs, Tennessee DE Derek Barnett – No. 14 to Eagles) and one ex-lacrosse player (Utah OT Garett Boles – No. 20 to Broncos).
No. 21 pick Jarrad Davis (LB out of Florida taken by the Lions) and No. 32 pick Ryan Ramczyk (OT out of Wisconsin taken by the Saints) were the only ones taken who did not play other high school sports, according to the data.
The sports specialization debate will wage on, no doubt. Yet there’s no denying that, on the whole, the bulk of the players selected to the NFL last night are well-rounded athletically.
(h/t Tracking Football)