Zion Williamson dabbles in football fun with Saints

Sports

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, left with back facing camera, greets NBA basketball New Orleans Pelicans draft picks Zion Williamson, left, Jaxson Hayes, center, and head coach Alvin Gentry during training camp at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Friday, July 26, 2019. With them are Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, center with back to camera, and former Saints head coach Jim Mora, right. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton says Zion Williamson’s athleticism and physical stature would make the Pelicans rookie and top NBA draft choice an intriguing NFL prospect at a handful of positions, starting with the defensive line or tight end.

But Williamson is making a case for quarterback as well, albeit in good fun.

The NFL’s Saints and NBA’s Pelicans are both owned by Gayle Benson and their training headquarters are on the same campus. So the Saints have invited the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson to watch Saints training camp practices and on Monday included him in a Saints quarterback challenge that Drew Brees regularly organizes with Saints reserve QBs.

The latest challenge involved throwing a football through a basketball hoop. Williamson nearly did so from about 50 yards away.

In an interview on SiriusXM, Payton joked that the Saints thought about using a seventh-round draft choice on Williamson “in case there was a problem across the parking lot.”

Payton says if he surveyed his staff on who would like a chance to develop Williamson, “there’d be five position coaches with their hands up right now starting with the defensive line coach, the tight end coach.”

“He’s a tremendous prospect,” Payton added. “I know they’re excited and thrilled to have him here and we’re excited for the Pelicans because, look, we are separated by a parking lot and this winning culture is somewhat contagious.”

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