It’s not a very common story in the NFL, but sometimes former collegiate basketball players find success playing professional football.
The best example of this success is Antonio Gates, who had an impressive basketball career at Kent State, but was too small to transition to the NBA.
Luckily, his skillset transferred well to the NFL to what would become a legendary TE career.
The Cleveland Browns are hoping to find similar success with their undrafted rookie, TE Marcus Santos-Silva.
We have signed TE Marcus Santos-Silva
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 2, 2022
Santos-Silva spent the last four years playing collegiate basketball – three at VCU followed by one at Texas Tech – averaging 8.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1 block per game.
#Browns signed TE Marcus Santos-Silva, who played college basketball at Texas Tech. Scored 1,244 points, 957 rebounds & 61 blocked shots. Earned All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2022; transferred to Texas Tech after three years (2017-20) at VCU.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) May 2, 2022
His career certainly wasn’t unimpressive, however, it did not head any calls from NBA agents.
And while there were basketball leagues overseas that were interested in him, Santos-Silva ultimately decided to change course in his career and give football a shot.
Santos-Silva’s story is intriguing and Browns fans would be ecstatic if he could have an Antonio Gates-like transition to the NFL.
But given he is transitioning to a new sport and hasn’t played football in a professional setting before, it’s more than a fair question to ask: does he even have a realistic shot to earn a roster spot?
Why He Will Make The Roster
The Browns need TEs
Out of all the years Santos-Silva could have tried to make the Browns’ roster as a TE, this year might be among the best.
With the departures of Austin Hooper and Stephen Carlson, and questions surrounding the talent of Harrison Bryant, the team is in need of some new talent at TE.
The only certainty the Browns seem to have at the position is starting David Njoku, but there is even uncertainty with that decision.
He brings size and strength
If the Browns do decide to add him to their 2022 roster, Santos-Silva would be the biggest man in the TE room, standing at 6 ft. 6 in. and weighing in at 261 lbs.
The #Browns signed TE Marcus Santos-Silva, a 6-foot-6, 261-pound forward who played hoops for Texas Tech the last two seasons. Now, he’ll make the switch to football.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 2, 2022
With the heavy run schemes the team uses, size is always a plus and he could help add to the Browns’ already dynamic running game.
In the passing game, opposing defenses would have to put one of their biggest defenders on him, helping to open up the field for other pass catchers.
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 if he developed good hands himself, he could reach up and grab passes in places most defenders could not.
Why he will not make the roster
The odds are against him
As this article stated above, it’s not incredibly common for collegiate basketball players to transition well to the NFL.
Playing football is a different skill set, it’s far more physical than basketball and the NFL is an incredibly competitive league to play in, especially considering it doesn’t have the overseas counterparts the NBA does.
There is also the fact there are plenty of other unsigned TE in the league who did play football in college.
He hasn’t played football since his freshman year of high school
Aside from the incredible competition he must face in the league, Santos-Silva also has to catch up on his football know-how and skills.
He hasn’t played football since his first year of high school and will likely need a few refreshers before this fall.
Whether he already has his football skills up to snuff or can get them there before kickoff remains to be seen, but he will have a lot of work to do if he wants to play for the Browns this fall.