If you want to talk about a sudden life change, talk to rookie Marcus Santos-Silva of the Cleveland Browns.
Santos-Silva spent much of his young life trying to forge a path to the National Basketball Association.
He transferred from Virginia Commonwealth to Texas Tech after his junior year looking for more exposure.
But the only basketball scouts and GMs who called him wanted Santos-Silva to play overseas.
— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham9) May 13, 2022
Just 3 days before the NFL Draft, the power forward succumbed to the idea of playing professional football.
Santos-Silva hired an agent who spread the word about a 6’6″, 260-pound basketball player looking for a tight-end job.
That word reached Browns pro scout Branden Francis, and Santos-Silva soon found himself in Cleveland.
And after a single, one-hour workout, the aspiring basketball star was a professional NFL tight end.
Can He Play Football?
Scouting college basketball for potential NFL players is not an uncommon exercise for NFL teams.
Dallas has been doing it since the 1960s, landing 5-time Pro Bowl cornerback Cornell Green in 1962.
Their 1975 Super Bowl team had 3 former NCAA basketball players who never took a collegiate football snap.
Former Browns players DE Sam Clancy and tight end Darren Fells played no college football, either.
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) May 15, 2022
Santos-Silva certainly has the size and length to look like an NFL tight end.
In fact, he is taller and heavier than David Njoku (6’4″, 246) and Harrison Bryant (6’5″, 230).
It didn’t hurt that he did not let a football touch the ground during his initial tryout and ran routes surprisingly well.
Blocking will be a challenge, as it is to most rookie tight ends, and could make or break his NFL opportunity.
Does Santos-Silva Believe?
Santos-Silva last played organized football as a freshman tight end on his high school team.
After his tryout, he thought the Browns offered a chance to attend their rookie minicamp.
When he learned the Browns were signing him to an actual NFL contract, he updated his goals quickly.
“My goal this year is to make the 53-man roster and be a second-string tight end,” he told Cleveland.com’s Anthony Polsal. “I know the plan is probably having me start on the practice squad, but I’m going to work and grind the whole time.”
Mo Allie-Cox, another former VCU basketball-only player in the NFL, threw his support behind Santos-Silva.
Yes, Marcus Santos-Silva, the basketballer-turned-tight end, did make this catch at Browns minicamp. pic.twitter.com/84nBxiiedT
— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) May 13, 2022
And Texas Tech’s football coaches encouraged him and provided football workouts and drills.
With everyone pulling for him, Santos-Silva will have every opportunity to surprise coaches in training camp.
And Kevin Stefanski just might have to clear a 2022 roster spot for his rookie tight end.