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Imagining Tottenham Hotspur as an American Football team

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A football team that plays football.

NFL: International Series-Fan Rally Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tottenham Hotspur concluded their USA Tour with a match against AC Milan at the Minnesota Vikings’ US Bank Stadium on Tuesday July 31, emerging victorious 1-0.

Each of their three matches stateside has been played in an American football stadium, including the SDCCU (formerly known as Qualcomm) Stadium in San Diego, and the iconic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., home to UCLA football and the annual Rose Bowl college football game.

So with just a handful of days to go before Spurs kick off against Newcastle and the NFL/college football season begins, and because the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium could be the future home of a London-based NFL franchise, I wanted to imagine what our beloved Lilywhites would look like if they threw on the shoulder pads instead of shin guards.

Due to the similar terminology appearing in both games, this could get a little confusing. Just remember, I’m American and when I bring up these terms I’m going to try and keep it related to American football.

Confused already because this is a blog focused on European football? Great, let’s dive in while I still have you. The players are ordered by kit number. Let’s call this team the “North London Hotspurs.”


No. 1 Hugo Lloris - cornerback

There are two major components to Lloris’ football skills that need to be considered when determining what role he’d best fit on the gridiron.

His 6-foot-2 frame and strong hands give him a reasonable opportunity to serve as our primary safety-valve at the tight end position, but he’d get pancaked by any linebacker at a slim 172 pounds.

With this in mind, placing the Frenchman as a starting cornerback makes more sense. His height allows Lloris to stack up well against any major vertical threat, and his long arms give him a great advantage when trying to defend against jump balls in the end zone.

No. 2 Kieran Trippier - fullback

I don’t have any doubt in my mind over this one — fullback (I told you this would get confusing).

The fullback is somewhat of a forgotten position around American football today, mainly because many teams really don't have a need for it due to becoming more pass focused.

The value that the fullback has to a team that uses one is massive, because if they do make a 53-man roster, they tend to have a huge amount of importance to the system they play for. Trippier is no different, as he has inserted himself into a role where if were to miss time, Spurs become more susceptible to being exploited in the back.

This is mainly judging off the little-to-no impact that Serge Aurier had last season.

England v Croatia: Semi Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

No. 3 Danny Rose - wide receiver

Another pretty easy one here, as Rose would play a similar role to what he does along the Tottenham back four in playing the slot wide receiver position. While it’s somewhat challenging to determine how great his hands are, the long-time left back has the ideal size at 5-foot-8 and 168 pounds for one of the most important positions on the team.

Given that he is usually atop the Spurs’ leaders in yellow cards each season, it’s Rose’s grit that could fuel his success in the slot, like the New England Patriots’ Julian Edelman or the Dallas Cowboys’ Cole Beasley.

No. 4 Toby Alderweireld and No. 5 Jan Vertonghen - defensive line

Yes, even in the American realm these two would play the same position. Their height, game IQ and leadership make these two Belgians ideal for the defensive line. I’m a big proponent of tall pass rushers to get to the quarterback because they don’t even need to get into the backfield to prevent a big play.

Hopefully they'd understand to press forward in this situation rather than staying back.

No. 6 Davinson Sanchez - free safety

He’s got the best pace among Tottenham’s center backs, which tells me he’s fit to serve as our team’s free safety. His 6-foot-2 frame is a slightly above average for most safeties, but if the Colombian can hold his own against some of the world’s top strikers with the pace similar to some of the NFL’s fastest players, playing the safety wouldn’t be much of a change for him.

Out of the all the comparisons that can be made within this article, the roles of center back and safety are the most analogous to their soccer counterparts in terms of playing defense and having to read the opposing offense’s key players’ eyes before they make their decision.

I also just feel that Sanchez has it in him to actually make some bone crushing hits.

No. 7 Son Heung-Min - special teams (kick returner)

The South Korean is one of the most exciting players to watch on the Tottenham roster when he’s given space to utilize his great balance and dribbling skills. While his feet aren’t really necessary in this situation, Sonny’s “big play ability” convinced me to serve as the kick return specialist.

The former Leverkusen man is one of the fastest players on the first team, and would demand the football whenever he would make an appearance on the field. Of course, plenty of special teams stars across the NFL earn the occasional snap offensively, and I’d expect Son to serve as that same kind of weapon.

But I have to say, he seemed to pick up on grabbing the laces of the pigskin very well.

No. 9 Vincent Janssen - reserve

Practice squad until he officially returns from Fenerbahce. [Editor’s note: Thicc Vin would make an excellent small forward and box-out/rebounding specialist in basketball, tho]

No. 10 Harry Kane - middle linebacker

At 6-foot-2 and 188 pounds, Kane will have to step up as he usually does and insert himself into the middle linebacker position. Of course, he’s a player that can step up in big moments which gives him the case to be our top wide receiver, but his pace worries me. I don’t think the English captain would be wowing anybody with his 40-yard dash.

Many teams claim their middle linebacker to be the heart and soul of their 53-man roster, a role Kane would embrace greatly.

Amazingly, the Evening Standard wrote back in 2015 that the Golden Boot winner at the World Cup wanted to play in the NFL once he retired from European football. Kane sold himself as a kicker (naturally), but I’m not selling him short to anchor our defense.

“It depends on how my football career goes but, when I am finished, I would love to go the NFL and be a kicker,” Kane told Sam Long of the Evening Standard. “Even if I got to play just one game it is something I would like to do.”

Damn it, he's a Patriots fan.

No. 11 Erik Lamela - running back

We still are in need of a vertical wide receiver, and Lamela unfortunately is not the answer to that situation. While he (like nearly every player on Tottenham) is underweight for his American football position, it’s the Argentine that at least has the necessary height to take reps as a running back at 5-foot-11.

This is more by default than anything, as I look upon the rest of the roster I don’t know who else could fit the position.

Unlike a majority of tailbacks across the league, Lamela actually was rewarded for his play with a new contract. At least he won’t hold out during training camp.

No. 12 Victor Wanyama - left tackle

The Kenyan’s injury issues concern me greatly, especially for the position that he’d play. But when he’s on his game, Wanyama is the player that changes the entire dynamic of our theoretical offense at left tackle.

It’s the former Southampton man’s strength that could at least give the quarterback half a second to get the ball out as he weighs is about 100 pounds less than your average offensive lineman.

Without him, the quarterback would be “blindsided” every single play. That position will be filled soon, don’t worry.

No. 13 Michel Vorm - wide receiver

At long last, we have our first (and only) vertical wide receiver.

Yes, we are running an up-tempo, three wide-out formation because that’s the only option we have. How could this offense possibly play an old school style “ground and pound” when we have a man less than 200 pounds on our offensive line?

With Rose working against opposing nickelbacks in the slot, the Dutchman’s ability to make spectacular catches up and down the sideline would be where he makes his living. As one of the oldest players on the roster, I believe Vorm wouldn’t be afraid to make catches in traffic even it meant he’d be in great danger to break his leg each play.

No. 14 Georges Kévin Nkoudou - special teams (punt returner)

Another player that if you see him with the American football in space, he’s going to damage. He’s unproven, which is why I’d want to throw him on special teams as a punt returner.

The odds that the Frenchman would make an NFL roster are stacked greatly against him with his 5-foot-9, 160 pound frame. A few stints in the CFL or Arena Football might suit him better.

No. 15 Eric Dier - tight end

He’s built very well, and is a balanced player that is used in multiple positions for Pochettino and Co. This is important when he could be asked to stack out wide or create space for Lamela as the tight end.

I can only imagine Dier putting on the pads for the first time and being told that he should wear gloves to reduce the level of difficulty in securing a catch.

There’s no chance this man would use gloves. He’s an old school tight end of the finest caliber.

No. 17 Moussa Sissoko - defensive tackle

Well, we can’t really trust him anywhere, but I have more faith in the Frenchman if he’s not responsible for actually taking care of the football (in both games). Since he struggles to free up space, it naturally makes sense to insert him at nose tackle to stop opposing guards from creating that necessary space for running backs to get downfield.

There’s also no denying Sissoko’s ridiculous strength, as he remains one of the most challenging players among the Tottenham first team to get off the ball. Just imagine him adding on another 100 pounds to look more like a defensive tackle.

It will only be a matter of time before American crowds chant, “MOUUUUUUS” after he records a back-breaking hit.

No. 18 Fernando Llorente - offensive line

He’s slow and steady, so in our high paced offense there aren’t too many open positions available for the Spaniard.

Thus, he’ll serve as reliable option along the offensive line with Wanyama at the center position. His experience can install faith into offensive coordinator (we’re going with this) Jesús Perez as he’ll have to develop chemistry with our quarterback....

No. 19 Moussa Dembélé- quarterback

Dependable, smart and a leader: three traits that define the Belgian and the starting quarterback of this side.

He plays mistake-free football and is an absolute workhorse for Poch each year. Dembélé has that “first one in, last one out” mentality that a star quarterback needs. He isn’t afraid to speak his mind when necessary, which is important because many quarterbacks around the NFL fall victim to becoming the nice guy.

I’d also love to see him scramble around with his somewhat odd running style, and feel that if he’s given the right guidance could just have a cannon of an arm.

Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

No. 20 Dele - outside linebacker

It would be silly for us to break apart Dele and Kane’s relationship, but to better utilize the 22-year-old’s skill set, inserting him at an outside linebacker position makes the most sense. He’s got very long arms, which allows him to disrupt passes even when not entirely reaching the opposing quarterback. As you (hopefully) read before, I’m a fan of lengthy rushers on the edge for the exact reason. Why hinder your team’s chances for success by placing a player that isn’t capable of performing such an action?

Also, by placing Dele on defense, the issue of flopping would hopefully be resolved. However I can’t guarantee that.

No. 21 Juan Foyth - cornerback

He’s the first-round draft choice that has great potential but never actually seems to step onto the field.

Foyth is built like a twig at 6-foot-2 and 152 pounds, leaving me no choice but to put him opposite Hugo Lloris as the secondary cornerback option.

I’d hope that with his lower weight that the Argentine could keep up with some of the NFL’s fastest wide receivers, but again his sample size is too small to really make a judgment.

At least he’s naturally a good defender...

No. 22 Paulo Gazzaniga - punter

One of the most satisfying things that I get from watching a football (European) match is when a goalkeeper hits the ball for what it seems like miles into the air only to have it remarkably come crashing down past the kickoff marker. As a person that has little to no skills in the actual game itself, it just amazes me that goalkeepers (and probably other players) can do that.

You probably know where I’m going with this one, as the Argentine will continue to launch footballs (American) miles into the air as the punter.

Just for reference, half of a (European, wow this is getting annoying) football field is about 60 yards, so if Gazzaniga were to pick up on how to properly punt, he could do some serious damage which is important because our offense is probably not going to move the ball too often.

[Editor’s note: plus it’d be sweet to hear the crowd yell “GAZINGA!!” every time he kicks the ball.]

No. 23 Christian Eriksen - running back

Well, the Dane’s top ability of passing with his feet is unfortunately removed from this situation.

However, his playmaking talents would remain fully on display, which is why I’d want him as a third-down/passing catching running back. Eriksen has enough pace to where he’s not going to be the easiest to catch, and his in-game IQ could allow him to see plays (as he does on the pitch) before defenders catch up. His relationship with Dembélé would also play a huge role as the two would constantly need to be on the same page, as they usually are.

No. 24 Serge Aurier, No. 29 Harry Winks and No. 37 Kyle Walker-Peters - kicker

Each of these players’ chances of making an NFL roster would rely entirely on their legs, as they would battle it out in training camp hoping to become the kicker.

Also, they are all incredibly small and just simply wouldn’t work in any other position. Fight me.

While this position isn't entirely glorified across the league mainly because they just don’t get as much time on the field, the kicker position would be coveted among the players of this team given their history in (European) football.

Tottenham Hotspur Players Visit Venice Beach Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

No. 27 Lucas Moura - wide receiver

OK, home stretch here and we’re also probably going to need to overlap positions. If you’re still reading, thank you!

Moura’s explosiveness should certainly not be left out when deciding what position would best suit him, and while he is not the most intimidating figure to try and take down, his top-end speed is what would give him a chance to make a roster. There are are handful of explosive vertical wide receivers under six feet across the NFL, like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown and Indianapolis Colts’ T.Y. Hilton.

Unlike Danny Rose who would be working more for chunk plays, the Brazilian would be averaging 27 yards per reception and shine in the spotlight after he burns a safety to tip-toe into the endzone off a 58-yard bomb from Dembélé.

No. 33 Ben Davies - outside linebacker

He does all of the right things at his left back position, so I’d want to keep him comfortable and insert him into our left outside linebacker.

He’s not as tall as his fellow pass rushers, but at 6-foot he can still do damage and of course Davies has a history of tracking players well as a defender [Editor’s note: lol], which could help him well in coverage as he tries to read where the opposing quarterback is electing to pass.

No. 38 Cameron Carter-Vickers - offensive line

The 20-year-old has the strength and height (for this team at least) to serve as a guard on the offensive line. He’d become an instant favorite because of his connection to the United States, and while he obviously doesn’t have any experience in clearing up space for running backs like Erik Lamela or Christian Eriksen, his time as a center back would give him a sense of familiarity in understanding how to read how his oncoming opponents who try to get past him.

No. 39 Josh Onomah - strong safety

While he isn’t for sure on the roster, it would be silly to end this piece by putting a player on the practice squad.

Onomah has enough height, weight and pace to anchor down as a strong safety. As a midfielder, his vision must always be a key part of his game as he looks for open spaces to pass the ball upfield. Of course, the primary role of a safety is to ensure that nothing gets by his area of the field, which is achieved through watching how the offense is running their plays and understanding how the quarterback can bait you into going a certain direction.


Take a deep breath. I hope you enjoyed it.

Recap

Offense:

  • Quarterback: Moussa Dembélé
  • Running Backs: Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen
  • Fullback: Kieran Trippier
  • Wide Receivers: Danny Rose, Michel Vorm and Lucas Moura
  • Tight End: Eric Dier
  • Offensive Tackle: Victor Wanyama
  • Guard: Cameron Carter-Vickers
  • Center: Fernando Llorente

Defense:

  • Defensive Ends: Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen
  • Defensive Tackle: Moussa Sissoko
  • Outside Linebackers: Dele Alli and Ben Davies
  • Middle Linebacker: Harry Kane
  • Cornerbacks: Hugo Lloris and Juan Foyth
  • Safeties: Davinson Sanchez and Josh Onomah

Special Teams:

  • Punter: Paulo Gazzaniga
  • Kickers: Serge Aurier, Harry Winks and Kyle Walker-Peters
  • Kick Returner: Son Heung-Min
  • Punt Returner: Georges-Kévin Nkoudou

Practice Squad:

  • Vincent Janssen