/Who Could Win an NFL Dunk Contest?

Who Could Win an NFL Dunk Contest?

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is shown before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

David Richard/Associated Press

It’s the offseason in the NFL, but we’re smack dab in the heart of basketball season. While most of the NBA will be taking this weekend off, the league’s biggest stars have gathered in Chicago for All-Star Weekend.

The game itself—like the Pro Bowl—is much more spectacle than sporting event. The highlight of the festivities for many fans is Saturday’s Slam Dunk Contest, in which a handful of stars will gather to display their athleticism and showmanship in an exhibition of explosiveness.

What if we transplanted NFL players into the event? What if we took some of football’s best, handed them a basketball and judged their ability to sail through the sky and slam it home? Who would reign supreme as the best dunker?

There’s no shortage of players who have demonstrated the ability to be a duke of the dunk. I’ve assembled a quintet—including at least one player very few people would expect—for a hypothetical NFL dunk contest.


Odell Beckham Jr.

It stands to reason that an NFL dunk contest would favor wide receivers—and that one of the best in the game would be one of the favorites.

There’s no shortage of highlights that show Odell Beckham Jr. of the Cleveland Browns leaping high into the air to snatch the football away from a defensive back. There’s also no shortage of clips floating around the internet that feature Beckham showing off his skills at dunking a basketball—including this one from back in 2015:

Hops certainly aren’t an issue for the 27-year-old. Among the traits that helped Beckham get drafted 12th overall in 2014 was a 38½-inch vertical.

Of course, winning a dunk contest isn’t just about athletic ability. There’s a considerable amount of showmanship and creativity involved.

OBJ has never been accused of having a shortage of either. The man knows how to put on a show. How to entertain.

He all but certainly would in an NFL dunk contest, making him an easy pick as the odds-on favorite in the eyes of fans.


Davante Adams

Oh, look. Another elite wide receiver. Who would have thought it?

Like Beckham, Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers is one of the most feared pass-catchers in the NFL. Like Beckham, part of the reason for that fear is Adams’ ability to high-point the ball. And like Beckham, Adams has already shown he can parlay that skill into the ability to make a highlight-reel dunk:

OK, that could be hard to beat.

Adams also has another trait that would come in handy in an NFL dunk contest: confidence. On an appearance on Bleacher Report’s The Lefkoe Show, Adams said that while many NFL players think they could win a dunk contest, he knows he would.

“It’s a lot of talkers,” Adams said. “I don’t think many people are going to show up because, like we talked about film—the film is out there. So you’re not going to show up just to show up; you want to win that thing.”

Consider the gauntlet dropped.


Jalen Ramsey

You could easily populate an NFL dunk contest with nothing but star receivers. Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons was a three-sport star in high school (including basketball and track and field). DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks is an incredibly physically gifted athlete who’d be more than capable of dropping the hammer on the hardwood.

But let’s give some players at other positions a chance to get in on the fun—starting with one of the best in the NFL at preventing wide receivers from making spectacular catches.

Jalen Ramsey joined the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 via a midseason trade, but while he was a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the three-time Pro Bowler showed he’d be more than capable of holding his own in a dunk contest:

On the way to being the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft, Ramsey showed off a 41½-inch vertical at the combine. He’s also shown over four seasons in the pros that he’s not at all averse to showing off.

The potential for trash talk alone rates Ramsey an invite.


Myles Garrett

Now that we’ve populated this hypothetical dunk contest with boatloads of athleticism and more than a little attitude, what we need is some power.

Enter Cleveland Browns edge-rusher Myles Garrett, who was the first overall pick in 2017.

At 6’4″ and 272 pounds, Garrett would easily be the biggest participant in this dunk contest. But Garrett is also ridiculously athletic for a man his size. At the combine, there wasn’t a drill he didn’t shine in. He peeled off a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, ripped off 33 reps on the bench press and, most importantly (for these purposes), posted a 41-inch vertical.

Wow. And in news that should surprise exactly zero people given the topic of this little exercise, Garrett has already shown he’s more than capable of hammering home the rock:

He may have to work on his dance moves a little, but there’s one other problem that could arise by including Garrett in a dunk contest:

Better make sure you have extra backboards.


Cole Beasley

In the history of the NBA dunk contest, smaller players have always been huge fan favorites. People went wild for Spud Webb. Cheered deliriously for Nate Robinson.

This NFL dunk contest needs a little guy—at least relative to the other players listed.

A player like Buffalo Bills slot receiver Cole Beasley.

Stop looking at me like that.

At 5’8″, Beasley is two inches taller than Webb and an inch shorter than Robinson. He’s also quite possibly the last NFL player you’d expect to sky through the air to dunk a basketball.

And yet, he can do just that:

It’s difficult to decide what’s better about that Instagram post—the fact that Beasley can dunk so well or that he called out Beckham.

We really need to stop underestimating him.

By no means is this list exhaustive. Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James has impressive hops. Ditto for New York Giants tailback Saquon Barkley, who also enjoys talking smack. Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham of the Packers was a standout on the hardwood at the University of Miami.

As it turns out, quite a few NFL players have hops.


Who do you think would win an NFL dunk contest? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter at @IDPSharks.