ALBANY, NY – With this being the NFL Wild Card Weekend and a showcase of the league’s best players, I figured the timing was right to incorporate football into RugbyWrapUp, by looking at 5 players from the NFL that would fare well in Rugby, especially Sevens. As a current college football player (right tackle), I’m not nearly as well-versed in rugby as many of you, but having grown up with a Prop/2nd Row Dad, I think I can handle this assignment.
The candidates I have chosen are players that qualified for the playoffs, so players like Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings and Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans are ineligible; even though both would be great choices.
Ray Rice, Running Back, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Rice is one of the quickest running backs in the National Football League. He may not have the 40-yard dash time of Chris Johnson or Reggie Bush of the Miami Dolphins but he has moves and footwork like no one else. Rice has the second most rushing yards in the NFL this year and is considered to be one of the only playmakers on the Baltimore Ravens this year. With the inconsistency of quarterback Joe Flacco, the bulk of Baltimore’s offense falls heavily on Rice. Further, Rice was third on the team in receiving yards, so he’s a dual-threat on the ground and via the pass. 7s Position: Scrum half
James Harrison, Outside Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers
James Harrison is probably the most feared player in the NFL this past decade. He doesn’t rank in the top five in either tackles or sacks, but his presence is felt on the field. You can just ask Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, OK that was a bit cruel. But Harrison is still the hardest hitter in the NFL and makes sure everyone is aware of that. Harrison is a four time Pro Bowl selection and also holds the record for the longest touchdown in a Super Bowl, a 100 yd interception return. I think his presence can translate well to rugby as well. 7s Position: Prop
Jason Pierre-Paul, Defensive End, New York Giants
JPP, as he is nicknamed by fellow New York Giant teammates, is one of the most athletic players in the NFL. Pierre-Paul is towards the top of the ranks in the NFL in sacks and ranks number one on a team full of dirty-good pass rushers; but that’s not the reason why JPP is one of the most athletic players in the NFL. Coming out of college before the NFL Draft Pierre-Paul went on ESPN’s Sport Science and performed 23 consecutive back flips in full pads. Pierre-Paul is a unique football player and has only been playing football since his junior year of high school so he has fresh legs on him which gives him a good edge over older players. I know Pierre-Paul is a bigger player being a defensive end and weighing in at 270 pounds but I still believe he can be effective in Sevens. 7s Position:Prop
Tim Tebow, Quarterback, Denver Broncos
As much as it pains me to say this because I’m not much of a fan of Tim Tebow because I think he is a highly overrated quarterback. But rugby on the other hand could suite Tebow very well, because he is very athletic, strong, and has a winning mentality. Tim Tebow is not a good quarterback by any means; but what he is, is a bruiser when he runs with the ball and I think he is also mentally tough enough to play rugby. He also is a winner, which makes me believe he could be successful in rugby as well. 7s Position: Hooker
Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones is one of the fastest wide receivers in the NFL, and came at a big price to the Atlanta Falcons costing them multiple early round draft picks. Luckily, it now seems it is well worth it because it takes away a lot of attention from fellow Falcon wide out Roddy White (but that’s here or there.) The main reason I think Julio Jones would be great in rugby is his pure speed and his “hops” (better known as jumping ability.) At the NFL Combine last year Jones posted a 4.39s 40-yd dash time and a 11 ft. 3 in. long jump, all with a broken foot. Jones’ long jump was the longest amongst his fellow wide receivers and his 40-yd dash was the third fastest among wide receivers. The fact that these numbers were posted all with a broken foot makes me think he can excel at rugby because he can still exceed through major pain. 7s Position: Wing
Chad Ochocinco, Wide Receiver, New England Patriots
The wide receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson could translate very well into a good rugby player in my opinion. Yes I realize he is probably past his prime considering his age and lack of contribution to the New England Patriots this year, but I still believe he can bring something to the table in rugby. Back in his heyday he once raced a horse and won, meaning he is unnaturally fast; even though he did get a head start. Speed is not something that drastically changes throughout a football career because you are constantly in shape and will maintain something like speed. Ochocinco (hah, I almost typed Johnson there) can also kick as well. During Ochocinco’s career with the Bengals he did attempt multiple field goals and kick offs. While the NFL was in a lockout over the past summer Ochocinco partook in a four-day trial for Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. It has been noted that Ochocinco was a star soccer player during his youth. While Ochocino did not make the team he was still offered the chance to train with the reserves while the lockout was in place. Ochocinco has both significant football and soccer experience which both sports have tie to rugby, making him a great crossover athlete to rugby. 7s Position: Wing
Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions
They don’t call him “Megatron” for no reason. Calvin Johnson is an absolute beast of a wide receiver for the Lions. Johnson is double covered week in and week out and still puts up good enough numbers to rank atop the standings in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns. Detroit has little run game or other passing weapons so the brunt of the offensive production relies on Johnson to get himself open and make plays. Johnson may not be the fastest wide receiver in the NFL but he is certainly the best. 7s Position: Center
There are bound to be arguments/endorsements against and for players that can make the switch. Feel free to voice your opinions.
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