Eagles rookie claims a lot of NFL players could play in the NBA right now: ‘You can find 30’

Jonathan Sherman
3 Min Read

Former NBA guard and current ESPN analyst Austin Rivers made news recently when he claimed that 30 current NBA players could lace up their cleats and compete in the NFL, but 30 NFL players could not do the same and transition to the NBA.

Since then, Rivers has received some backlash from current and former NFL players. One NFL player who’s now getting into the mix is one of the league’s more recent additions: rookie defensive back Cooper DeJean.

DeJean, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 40 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, even listed two players off the top of his head that he seemingly thinks could compete in the NBA: Los Angeles Rams receiver Puka Nacua and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons.

The debate has been entertaining for fans of both professional sports leagues, and Rivers certainly achieved what he set out to do by making headlines and starting a conversation. When it comes to the actual facts about how many players from each league could make rosters in the other, it’s close to impossible to come up with a definitive answer.

To be sure, both leagues employ their fair share of freak athletes. For example, it’s not hard to picture players like Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Minnesota Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards enjoying success in the NFL. On the flip side, it is easy to imagine players like CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys and Sauce Gardner of the New York Jets tearing it up in the NBA.

With that in mind, the physical demands of each sport are very different. Basketball favors height, agility, jumping ability and more. Meanwhile, football puts a large emphasis on strength, straight-line speed and extreme mental and physical coordination. While there are, of course, crossovers between both sports, the requirements for success are also quite different.

At the end of the day, the debate seems to be little more than an entertaining hypothetical. Perhaps some have taken it too much to heart, but most seem to just be playing along for the fun of it.

While the debate could potentially be settled by having some players from each league attempt to cross over into the other, that actually taking place seems rather unlikely. Until that happens, fans and players alike will simply have to wonder.

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Jonathan has worked as a sports writer covering NBA and NFL news since 2017. He's a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Vikings.