When Connor Barwin emerged in 2008/2009 he seemed like a relatively rarity. An uber-athletic kid with a basketball as well as a football background who had been switched positions in college and suddenly exploded on defense, leading the Big East in sacks. It seems like this kind of story is becoming more and more commonplace. Guys with cross-sports backgrounds and insane athleticism who move to football and develop quite rapidly. Guys who change positions in college (sometimes more than once), sometimes switching from offense to defense, finding the position that best suits both their frame and their personality. There are clearly guys who seem better mentality suited to playing on one side of the ball than the other, and who thrive once they change positions. Consider some recent examples: - Jason Pierre-Paul (2010): a 4 year letterman in basketball who only took up football after a leg injury. Thrived because of his exceptional length and athleticism, but was considered technically raw when drafted. Exploded as a pro, and is now the standard for pass rushing DEs. - Jimmy Graham (2010): basketball player with great size, athleticism and footwork who took up football. Very raw initially. Mike Mayock predicted it would take at least 2 years for him to start to make an impact. It obviously didn't. - Nate Solder (2011): former TE, outgrew the position and was moved to offensive tackle. Great footwork and agility for the position, insane athleticism. Is emerging as a top OT in his second year. - JJ Watt (2011): former TE, terrific athleticism. Switched to defense, was quite raw at first. Now is all world. - Richard Sherman (2011): former high school track and field star (hurdles, triple jump) as well as football. WR in college, was converted to CB as a junior, so was technically raw when he came out. Exploded as a pro. His athleticism, aggressiveness and background as a WR have all combined to make him one of the best coverage CBs in the NFL today, in only his second year. Consider some of the current college crop: - Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon:high school basketball player and WR, switched to TE and then to defense, where he has emerged as an explosive pass rusher who is fluid enough in space to play CB at times. Possible 1st round pick in 2013. - Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU: Ghanese track athlete who had never played football until 3 years ago. Reportedly ran a 10.9 100 meter dash and 21.9 200 meter at 260 lbs. Has exploded this year, and is getting consideration as a possible 1st round pick. Plays OLB, DE and DT and 270+ lbs. - Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota: highly recruited TE and basketball player out of high school, was switched to DE and then DT. Has emerged as a starter this year and has dominanted inside with 6.5 TFL and 5 sacks, now regularly requires double teams. Getting serious pro interest, considering declaring. - Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado: basketball player and 4 star recruit as a DE. Stagnated a bit, and got moved to as a junior TE, where he is thriving. Supposedly has 4.55 speed at 6'6" 260#. Was also a multiple track letterman in highschool where he was a sprinter despite playing DE, and reportedly ran a 11.1 100 meter dash and 23.7 200 meter. - Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati: former quarterback before being converted to TE. Also a basketball and track standout in high school, had trouble picking football over basketball. Now considered a fast rising draft prospect. - Reid Fragel, OT, Ohio St.: recruited to Ohio St. as a TE, also played basketball and participated in track in high school. How 6'8" and 305-310#, in his first year of playing RT for the undefeated Buckeyes. Michigan and Michigant St. both recruited Fragel, but wanted to convert him immediately to OT, and he was unwilling, otherwise he might be a much higher rated prospect by this time. - Kyle Long, OT, Oregon: former baseball pitcher who only converted to football last year. Still technically raw, combines massive size and athleticism. There are lots of others. I'm including kids who were either cross-sports late switches to football and/or positional switches. All were relatively late comes to their eventual positions, and all had to deal with either the technical challenges of a new sport/position and/or the challenges of a changing physical frame. Obviously, not all of these stories are the same, and not all kids develop at the same rate, or necessarily succeed. But it seems like there are scads of uber-athletic kids with cross sports backgrounds who either come to football late or who undergo positional switches and are late to pick up a position. All of these kids tend to be technically a bit behind their more experienced peers, but have superior athleticism. Those with the drive to succeed frequently seem to do so. Many of these kids are available fairly late in the draft process because their technical ability or control over their bodies hasn't yet matured. I'm guessing that we'll see more and more of colleges finding raw but ultra-athletic kids who don't have much football experience and/or have a cross-training experience, and will tinker more and more with moving players to different positions. TE seems to be a bit of a nexus in terms of size/athleticism. We've seen a lot of kids with TE backgrounds move to DE or to OT, and some kids with DE backgrounds move to TE. It seems like some of these kids may be good day 3 pickups for those patient enough to work on their fundamentals. JJ Watt, Jimmy Graham, Jason Pierre-Paul and Richard Sherman are good examples of how quickly these kind of athletes and can develop if they have enough drive to succeed. It might not be a bad draft strategy to target some of these kids, particularly those that are available day 2 or 3.