On Wednesday, the 11th season of obstacle course/game show/reality competition American Ninja Warrior kicked off. I’m a huge fan of the show, and I’ve decided to finally dive into a question I’ve oft wondered about: which Green Bay Packers players would do best on the show?
The traits that set one up for success in the show are not necessarily the ones most valuable on a football field. The show features a wide variety of obstacles that change week-to-week, round-to-round, and season-to-season.
The most common obstacles involve jumping and balancing on small platforms, climbing without support across complicated terrains, and sprinting across platforms designed to knock off balance.
The best contestants are excellent all-around athletes, but some of the most beneficial athletic traits are grip strength, upper body strength, long reach, balance, and jumping ability.
Competitors are a wide range of sizes. Most are shorter than NFL players, and the overwhelming majority are significantly lighter. More important than raw size, though, is a high strength-to-weight ratio.
Here’s five of the current Packers that I think might be best-suited for the show. (Acme Packing Company published a similar article in 2016, though I believe the roster has evolved enough since then that a fresh look is interesting.)
Dan Vitale, FB
As anyone who follows him on Twitter or Instagram can attest to, Vitale is an elite athlete and bodybuilder. His biggest disadvantage would be his 239-pound weight. But he has outstanding upper body strength (30 reps at the Scouting Combine), a reasonable height (6-foot-1), and excellent broad jumping and vertical jumping to go along with it.
J’Mon Moore, WR
Moore hasn’t done much of anything on the field yet for the Packers, but he’d be a great candidate for American Ninja Warrior. His biggest athletic knock is a relative lack of speed, but that’s no issue on the show. He has good height (6-foot-2 5/8), great bench press reps (21), reasonable weight (207 pounds), and a solid vertical (38 inches).
The American Ninja Warrior crowds love big personalities, and Alexander would be sure to give them a show. He’s a bit lacking in terms of raw arm strength (14 bench reps at the Combine), but he’s relatively light (196 pounds) and has outstanding lower body explosiveness, which would be crucial on balance-oriented obstacles and when facing the dreaded Warped Wall.
Jackson struggled his rookie year due largely to slow feet and stiff hips. But those are little problem when surmounting obstacles rather than covering receivers. He’s relatively strong (18 reps), and has good numbers in both the vertical and broad jumps. Perhaps best of all, he’s over six-feet tall, while still coming in under 200 pounds.
Moore and Jackson fall into similar categories, and so do Jones and Alexander. Jones doesn’t have great upper body strength and is 208 pounds. But, he had excellent results in the jumping and quickness drills at the combine, and the explosiveness he displays on the field would be invaluable in the competition. And as one surprising perk—despite being in the 18th percentile for height among running backs (5-foot-9), he’s in the 90th percentile for arm length.
Others under consideration include: Equanimeous St. Brown, Geronimo Allison, Josh Jones, Ka’dar Hollman, Kevin King, Oren Burks, and Darnell Savage
The Packers have several elite athletes that I didn’t spotlight here for the simple fact that they’re probably just a bit too heavy for the show’s obstacles. The most notable among these are Rashan Gary, Corey Linsley, and Jason Spriggs.
And some of the team’s best players, such as Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and David Bakhtiari, didn’t show up here because their elite traits don’t exactly translate in an obvious manner to an obstacle course.
As for the inverse question—which Ninja athletes would help the Packers most?—it’s probably safe to say that the Packers would be better at Ninja Warrior than the Ninja contestants would be at professional football. But, I’d be intrigued by Najee Richardson or Flip Rodriguez as slot receivers/punt returners.
The team won’t and shouldn’t allow it, but a team-building trip to an American Ninja Warrior gym would be a worthy replacement to clay shooting. But, the team won’t (and shouldn’t) allow an activity of even minor injury risk, so we’ll probably never know the answer to this profoundly important question.