NBA to NFL Crossover: Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov

Denver big man has the size and speed to block in the trenches
by Aaron Lopez

When Timofey Mozgov sets a solid screen, it might as well come with a detour sign.

Standing 7-foot-1 and weighing 250 pounds, Mozgov provides a roadblock for his teammates looking for a clear path to the basket. Imagine the holes he could create on the line of scrimmage.

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

On defense, we have Darrell Arthur (defensive end), Kenneth Faried (defensive end), J.J. Hickson (linebacker) and Nate Robinson (cornerback). On offense, it’s Arron Afflalo (quarterback), Wilson Chandler (tight end), Randy Foye (wide receiver) and Ty Lawson (running back). Danilo Gallinari (placekicker) is the main man on special teams.

Though Mozgov probably could fill the Ed “Too Tall” Jones role as a defensive end, someone has to provide blocking and pass protection.

NBA Position: Offensive tackle

As many NBA big men have learned over the past four seasons, Mozgov is a tough dude to push around when he find a spot on the low block. He’s also extremely mobile for his size, allowing him to run the floor and beat defenders in transition.

Mozgov’s fundamentally sound footwork and above-average speed make him a nice fit along the offensive line. Woe is the linebacker or defensive back who tries to take him on as he blocks upfield on a sweep or screen pass.

NFL Counterpart: Jake Long

Few players in the NFL are more imposing than the 6-7, 322-pound Long, a left tackle who is entering his second season with the St. Louis Rams.

Long is responsible for protecting the blindside for right-handed quarterbacks, and he’s done his job well in six seasons with the Rams and Miami Dolphins. The 29-year-old was a First Team All-Pro selection in 2010 and has been selected to the Pro Bowl four times.
Long is recovering from knee surgery and is targeting a return for the Rams’ season-opener on Sept. 7.

Final thought:

Long and Mozgov bring a unique blend of size, strength and speed to their respective positions in the middle of the action. Rarely are they on the wrong side of a mismatch.