Thursday, November 5, 2009

Feature: If They Played in the NFL

After the 2008 Summer Olympics, there was a lot of talk on NFL websites and message boards about one guy, and whether or not he could (or actually would) play football professionally. Of course, you know that man to be:

Usain Bolt
Olympic Sprinter (Jamaica)
6'5" 207 lbs

Position: Wide Receiver

If you're an offensive coordinator and you have a guy who's six-five and runs a 40-yard dash in, like, 4 seconds flat, what do you do with him? Line him up wide, tell him to run past the defense, and put the ball just above him and let him jump for it. Typically, track guys don't do well in the NFL, as they usually don't run good routes, and occasionally have trouble catching the ball (especially in traffic).

However, there hasn't been someone as ridiculously fast as Usain Bolt, well, ever. "Bullet" Bob Hayes, of the Cowboys of the 70's, is about the closest that comes to mind. Hayes was an Olympic track star, and coincidentally, positively destructive as an NFL receiver. There was simply no one that could cover him. The biggest difference between Bolt and Hayes, though, is size. Can you imagine the uproar if, say, Plaxico Burress had run a 4.1 40yd dash at his combine? There would be riots if a guy both that big and that fast was on a football field.

I can't really vouch much for Bolt's route running, but I don't think it would matter. He would need to know, like, 2 routes, and he would be crazy productive. Right at the snap, send him on "Go" routes or deep posts, let him just run, and put the ball near him. Game over. His hands are a question mark. However, he has run relays competitively, and that requires good hand strength and dexterity for baton passing, so I think he'd be okay.

Think Randy Moss is a record-setter? Forget it. Bolt is 3 inches taller than Jerry Rice, and a good amount faster. Rice had the best hands and ran the best routes in history, but I think Bolt's physical tools would put him at a Pro Bowl level instantly. The Cowboys would love a guy like him, as Jerry Jones loves high profile, fast players, and Romo has a strong enough arm to deliver the ball downfield. Imagine Bolt on the Pats. I won't even finish that thought...too scary. Really, though, his best fit I think is on either the Bears or Vikings. Both teams could use a big receiver to stretch the field. Jay Cutler would wet his pants at the thought of a 6'5" target who's faster than Devin Hester. Brett Favre to Usain Bolt? Yes.

How 'bout it? Any other suggestions?


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