2018 NFL Draft Highlights Importance of Multi-Sport Athletes

In Football
By Alex Flanagan | April 29, 2018

By Alex Flanagan

Put one more mark in the ‘reasons young athletes should play multiple sports’ category.

This weekend the NFL held its annual draft. According to trackingfootball.com 29 of the 32 players selected in the first round were multi-sport athletes in high school. That’s a whopping 91% and a stat that can surely be used to make a strong argument against specializing in one sport.  Trackingfootball.com also found 226 out of the 256 (88.6%) players drafted were multiple sport athletes high school.

In fact, almost half of the first-round picks played not two, but three sports in high school including second overall pick from Penn State, running back Saquon Barkley. Barkley played football, basketball and ran track. Third overall pick, former University of Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold, played football, basketball and baseball in high school.

stats of multi-sport athletes in 2018 draft

No surprise that track and field proved to be the most popular sport to play alongside football. 69% of the first-round picks had track and field as a second sport. 17 out of the 32 also played basketball and four played baseball including this year’s first overall pick, Heisman trophy winning quarterback, Baker Mayfield. Mayfield played first base in high school. It should also be pointed out to all sports parents that Mayfield was a walk on in college. Twice. First, at Texas Tech, and second, when he transferred to The University of Oklahoma.

Mike McGlinchey was the only four sport high school athlete in the first round of this year’s draft. The Notre Dame offensive lineman played basketball, lacrosse, football and track and field and will now play football full time for the San Fransisco 49ers.

It kind of goes without saying what it all means…Doesn’t it? Your young athletes don’t need to be pouring themselves into one sport exclusively to be successful. In fact, this serves as further proof that’s exactly what they don’t need to be doing.

Alex Flanagan co-founded I love to watch you play in 2015. She was flying home from an NFL work assignment when a learning specialist, who was sitting next to her, shared 5 reasons she shouldn’t feel guilty missing her son’s game. She shared their conversation on her own website alexflanagan.com and the response was so overwhelming it inspired her to create ILTWYP to help parents like herself navigate youth sports.




  1. I’m in total agreement that kids should be multi sport athletes, but I also wonder is this idea being misinterpreted by many parents? What I mean by that is, how many sports per season should a child play? As a coach I see too many kids who show up for games, but rarely to practice because they have a game in another sport. They rarely work on fundamental skills and take playing time from kids who did show up to practice and earned it. On top of that they’re exhausted from the overloaded schedule and never get to just play in the yard and relax.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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