Nearly 90 percent of 2016 NFL Draft picks played multiple sports in high school

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Saturday April 30, 2016


As single-sport specialization increases in youth sports, take note that nearly 90 percent NFL Draft picks this year were multi-sport athletes in high school.

The team at TrackingFootball.com, which helps coaches track data, put together the numbers and determined that 224 of 253 picks (88.5 percent) played multiple sports in high school, whether that was basketball, baseball, track and field or something else. A year ago, the number was 87.5 percent of picks with multi-sport backgrounds. Here’s this year's round-by-round breakdown by @TrckFootball:

1st round: 26 of 31
2nd round: 31 of 32
3rd round: 34 of 35
4th round: 36 of 41
5th round: 30 of 36
6th round: 38 of 46
7th round: 29 of 32

College coaches like multi-sport athletes in high school, because different sports can help them develop different useful skills. There are also plenty of college athletes who continue the two-sport work in college.

Last month, current NFL Network analyst and former NFL scout Bucky Brooks said playing multiple sports helped a player’s stock, in his mind.

“There’s a lot of specialization, so guys aren’t being exposed to multiple sports,” Brooks said at Ohio State’s pro day. “The big thing I look for when I dig in their background, have you played other sports and what sports are those? Have you played basketball, where I can understand your body position and control. Have you played baseball, and can you judge a ball in the air? Depth perception and the ability to track it.”

“For certain positions, it’s optimal to play other sports, because it gives you an indicator on what they may be able to bring to the table.”

At the Combine, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen blasted the specialization culture, noting that kids need to learn to be around different people, get different coaching styles and have different experiences. He says his kids will play multiple sports.

“There’s plenty of time to play at this level. Most kids are never going to go,” he said. “Chances are my kids aren’t either. But that’s not what it’s about. Youth sports, growing up as a kid, it’s more than touchdowns. It’s more than free throws. It’s about growing up as a kid. I think kids are missing out on it.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.