NBA to NFL Crossover: Nuggets guard Nate Robinson

Denver reserve built to play in the secondary
by Aaron Lopez

The transition from the hardwood to the gridiron was a natural one for NFL tight ends such as Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas.

They are big, fast, athletic and have great hands accustomed to catching passes on the fast break while playing basketball in college.

With NFL training camps in full swing, we thought it would be interesting to see where the Denver Nuggets would fit best if they traded their basketball gear for a helmet and shoulder pads.

Naturally, guard Nate Robinson is a great place to start.

Robinson played cornerback for the University of Washington as a freshman before turning his sole focus to basketball. He still believes he could play in the NFL, and who are we to doubt his skills? After all, Robinson has made a living proving skeptics wrong.

NFL Position: Defensive back

At 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Robinson would be an ideal cornerback or safety primed for a pick-6 or a big hit at any given moment. He’s fast, physical and tough-minded. If needed, he also could serve double-duty returning punts and kickoffs.

Robinson started the final six games for the Huskies in 2002, recording two interceptions. He remains a ball hawk on the basketball court, recording nearly a steal per game since his rookie season in 2005-06.

NFL Counterpart: Tyrann Mathieu

Mathieu also stands 5-9 and brings a swagger to the safety position for the Arizona Cardinals. There were some questions about his potential when he left Louisiana State, but the Honey Badger proved the naysayers wrong with his strong play as a rookie last season.

Mathieu’s season was cut short when he tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in Week 14. Coincidentally, Robinson is recovering from ACL surgery on his left knee as well.

Given their history of overcoming odds to make it to the pros in their respective sports, it would be no surprise to see Robinson and Mathieu making a difference for their teams this season.

Final thought

Being a devout Seattle Seahawks fan, Robinson probably wouldn’t be pleased being compared to a player from an NFC West rival. We could have chosen Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. His confidence also is through the roof, but he’s 6-3 – a good 6 inches taller than Robinson and Mathieu.