The concept of going straight to the NBA out of high school is nothing new, but the idea is foreign when it comes to the NFL. Of course, there is a good reason for that, as the NFL is truly a man’s game that’s not fit for 18-year-olds. However, there have been a few players over the years who could have made the jump. Let’s check out a few NFL stars who we think could have skipped college and played in the NFL straight out of high school.
There is no football coach who would advise a kid coming out of high school to line up against NFL offensive linemen. But in Clowney’s case, it would have been intriguing to watch. He was the consensus top recruit in the country coming out of high school and there was no doubt he had the talent to compete at a high level. Even as a true freshman in the SEC, it was clear he was a level above everyone else. Clowney may not have dominated right away, but he probably could have picked up a handful of sacks if he played in the NFL in 2011 rather than being a freshman at South Carolina.
By the time Jones got to Alabama, he already had the size and speed that ultimately made him a star in the NFL. In addition to his football prowess, Jones was also Mr. Alabama Track & Field his senior year of high school. He then became the first true freshman wide receiver to start a season opener at Alabama. Jones had almost no learning curve during his freshman year at Alabama, and that was while playing against several cornerbacks in the SEC who also went on to play in the NFL. He may not have started for every NFL team if he could have turned pro out of high school, but Jones could have been a productive receiver right away.
Time has almost made us forget how incredible of an athlete Woodson was during his college days at Michigan. After all, he was All-Big Ten First Team and Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1995 while leading the Wolverines in takeaways. Plus, it took Woodson just two games to become a starting cornerback as a true freshman. When you add his ability as a punt returner, there would have been plenty of NFL teams happy to put Woodson on the field straight out of high school.
From a physical standpoint, Fournette looked the part of a five-year NFL veteran while he was still in high school. He was a bruising back who was made for life in the NFL trenches. At the same time, he had the kind of speed that was just unfair for a player of his size. Keep in mind that the hype train for Fournette was out of control by the time he got to LSU. Granted, it took him until his sophomore year to meet expectations. But Fournette would have been ready to play in the NFL as soon as he was out of high school.
There might never be a player more ready for the NFL out of high school than Peterson. He was both the no. 1 football recruit in the country and a track star in high school. When he got to Oklahoma, Peterson was in Beast Mode from Day 1. As a true freshman, he fell just 75 yards short of 2,000 rushing yards. That alone made it obvious that he was too good for the college level. If he had the chance, Peterson probably could have rushed for 1,000 yards in the NFL straight out of high school.