Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 May 2010

Rugby Star Greg Inglis To Join NFL Team?

Here's an interesting story from Australia. Last month, the Melbourne Storm of the National Rugby League were found guilty of breaching the league's salary cap by using under-the-table payments to their star players, a la the Joe Smith scandal with the Minnesota Timberwolves a few years ago. As a result, the team was stripped of two championships, fined $500,000, and lost its championship eligibility for the 2010 campaign.

That may have created an opportunity for a star of the team to enter the NFL. 23-year-old center Greg Inglis, who won the Golden Boot Award -- given to rugby league's greatest player -- in 2009, has been offered tryouts with the Bills and the Broncos, according to agent Alan Gainey.

At 6'5" and 238 pounds, Inglis has the size to suit up as a position player in the league, although he could also end up as a specialist. And at 23, he still has the time to learn the nuances of the trade.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 17 May 2010

80 comments, Last at 21 May 2010, 2:19pm by Lebo

Comments

1
by Lou :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 2:09pm

any speculation as to what position he would play? that might be important to figure out.

2
by Sophandros :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 2:22pm

From the article:

"The NFL scouts don't know a lot about NRL players unless we alert them, but they've seen footage of Greg and they believe he's an amazing talent who could succeed as a kick returner or a linebacker."

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Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

3
by Zilla (not verified) :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 2:22pm

Sounds like a good fullback to be honest. Maybe even a linebacker if offense doesn't work out.

5
by JasonK :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 2:29pm

I'd guess that 6'5" is too tall for a fullback. Linebacker or a TE/WR of some kind seem like the most probable positions for a guy with that kind of build.

7
by Dean :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 2:43pm

Give him 2 years at fullback, and he'll be 6'1".

4
by Ectoplasm (not verified) :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 2:26pm

The skillset for a rugby league centre would probably be closest to that of a running back/linebacker/safety, although he's got the size (and likely, the hands) for a tight end.

6
by Jimmy :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 2:39pm

If he went to the Broncos he could be a monster lined up in the backfield with Tebow and Moreno. He is plenty big and fast and probably has elite change of direction abilities and power (to dominate Rugby League) together with fanastic ball handling abilities. I would also imagine he is an excellent tackler who hits, wraps up and uses great leverage (again otherwise he wouldn't be much of a RL player).

8
by Sophandros :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 5:10pm

I would love to see some rugby union guys play football, particularly just about anyone from 6 to 15.
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Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

12
by Forward (not verified) :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 6:36pm

As a former seven (open-side flanker), I heartily endorse this statement. :) And you don't think some props and locks would be decent linemen, with training? An international lock definitely has left-tackle build. Not left-tackle size, though - thanks to the demands of the game, they're vastly more athletic and capable of sustained cardio work.

29
by Lebo :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:33am

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. I think some flankers out there would have been awesome LBs: Schalk Burger, Jerry Collins, Richie McCaw. Jerome Kaino and Lote Tuqiri could've been beasts at TE. And wingers like Sitivini Sivivatu, Bryan Habana, Tonderai Chavhanga could've been really dangerous receivers.

I also think there are some props out there who could've been great O-Linemen. I think Carl Hayman could've excelled at all five positions. (Interestingly Haloti Ngata was offered a spot in the USA Rugby Union front row, but turned it down in favour of the draft.)

There are some other players whose skills could've suited Gridion too. Sam Tuitupou reminds me of Bob Sanders, or he possibly could've played RB. I also think that Tana Umaga and Mils Muliaina would've made great safties. Shane Williams and Jason Robinson could've been nightmares to cover as returners.

But all this is predicated on the assumption that these players grew up playing Amercian Football.

40
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 9:12am

Sorry, I've also played both...and this is just crazy. Richie McCaw is 6-1 220. Thats Div 1-AA. Collins had Div 1 size at least. But "awesome"? Now...Burger might be intriguing. TEs in the NFL are routinely 250+ nowadays, even the WR/TEs like Dallas Clark. There are loads of potential Gates/Gonzalez types on Bball teams, but not on rugby teams.

As for props...there isnt a guy on the South African front row above 265 lbs! That's high school size!

Potentially, some of the big skill positions overlap...so yes, flankers and big backs might translate to safety/LB/fullback/TE. But these guys look a lot bigger and faster playing rugby because rugby does not allow for as much specialization...the fast guys have to tackle, the big guys have to get around the pitch.

The better game is to pick any NFL roster and construct a dominant rugby team (predicated on the assumption that they grew up playing rugby). It's surprisingly easy.

44
by Sophandros :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 9:44am

"The better game is to pick any NFL roster and construct a dominant rugby team (predicated on the assumption that they grew up playing rugby). It's surprisingly easy."

What's even more fun is going across US sports and having your own Rugby Union Mock Draft and picking a starting XV. You end up with guys like Devin Hester or Josh Cribbs playing fullback and opposing teams conceding lots of territory just to ensure that they find touch.

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Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

46
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 9:47am

Second row of Dwight Howard and LeBron James?

53
by Lebo :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 3:06pm

Personally, I think you overestimate the impact that players like Hester or Cribbs could have in union. Brent Russell is/was a very similar player to these two - small and ridiculously fast. However, he size was too much of an impediment at the top level.

However, I think that Cribbs could make an excellent halfback. Cribbs played QB at college. So I'm going to assume that he could both read the game and clear the ball from the breakdown effectively. And with his explosiveness he would be an absolute terror around the fringes.

45
by Kyle Orton's secret shirt pocket (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 9:46am

I think the issue of body size (220 for McCaw) is partially due to the need for rugby players to get around the pitch. To make this possible there's a limit to how much muscle mass they want to carry. The result is that rugby players don't put as much muscle on as possible because after a certain point it becomes counter productive. - His height would be limiting unless he was very special.

I think the specialization thing goes both ways. There are probably some deeply flawed rugby players who could be effective american footballer players as they wouldn't be required to excel at several tasks.

Pierre Spies at TE? - 6'4", 240, blindingly quick for a big man and great hands.

54
by Lebo :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 3:18pm

Yes! I think Spies would actually be a great TE if he could learn the necessary blocking and route running skills.

(And if an NFL team could sign him before Saturday, New Zealand would be very grateful.)

59
by Stefan (not verified) :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 1:52am

I always think of the opposite -- imagine some of the NFL guys playing rugby. Emmitt Smith would have been an unstoppable center. Ray Lewis might knock out the opposing #10 every game as a flanker.

Even if the US just got several undrafted but excellent college football players to start seriously playing rugby every year we could probably reach Six Nations level rugby pretty quick.

63
by Dean :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 9:10am

So if Emmitt is going to be unstoppable, he gets to bring his OL with him, right?

65
by Staubach12 :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 1:17pm

Sorry, that line was great at pass protection, but only above-average at run blocking. The idea that Emmitt was a product of his OL is pretty ridiculous.

66
by Dean :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 2:12pm

Emmitt probably had more runs where he was 4 yards downfield before he was touched than any RB in history.

67
by Staubach12 :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 2:57pm

Emmitt actually had more yards after contact with a defender than any back in history. Seriously, I don't know what RB you were watching. Yards after contact was Smith's greatest strength!

68
by Jimmy Oz (not verified) :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 7:50pm

Emmitt Smith's hold out in the 93 reason forced the Cowboys to promote Derrick Lassic to starter. Lassic's performance behind the same line o-line forced the Cowboys to offer Emmitt Smith a new contract. Really, it wasn't all about the o-line.

69
by tuluse :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 2:09am

Any one who thinks Smith wasn't one of the greatest backs of all time just has am axe to grind.

As a Bear's fan, I will say I don't think he is quite worthy of being the all time rushing leader, but he is still one of the best backs ever.

70
by Dean :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 12:40pm

Depends on how big a list you're making of "one of the best backs ever." Top 25? Sure. Top 10. No chance.

The guy is a legitimate Hall of Famer. But he's still the single most overrated back in my lifetime.

71
by Nathan :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 1:12pm

No chance? There are only 27 half backs / full backs from the modern era in the HOF.

Larry Csonka (FB) 1968-1979
Frank Gifford (HB-FL) 1952-1960, 1962-1964
Franco Harris (RB) 1972-1984
Paul Hornung (HB) 1957-1962, 1964-1966
Leroy Kelly (RB) 1964-1973
Hugh McElhenny (HB) 1952-1964
John Henry Johnson (FB) 1954-1966
Charley Trippi (HB) 1947-1955
Doak Walker (HB) 1950-1955
Lenny Moore (HB) 1956-1967
John Riggins (RB) 1971-1979, 1981-1985
Thurman Thomas 1988-2000
Jim Taylor (FB) 1958-1967
Joe Perry (FB) 1948-1963
Ollie Matson (HB) 1952, 1954-1966
Emmitt Smith 1990-2004
Walter Payton (RB) 1975-1987
Barry Sanders (RB) 1989-1998
Floyd Little (RB)
Marion Motley (FB) 1946-1953, 1955
O.J. Simpson (RB) 1969-1979
Eric Dickerson (RB) 1983-1993
Jim Brown (FB) 1957-1965
Earl Campbell (RB) 1978-1985
Marcus Allen (RB) 1982-1997
Gale Sayers (HB) 1965-1971
Tony Dorsett (RB) 1977-1988

Just off the top of my head I'd put Brown, Payton, Sanders over him for sure. I'd have to think about Dickerson, Campbell, Simpson, Sayers, Thomas and Harris. Then stuff starts to get real hard. 11 straight 1000+ yd seasons is pretty fucking impressive, I don't care how good your line is. Look how fast RBs break down nowadays. Smith wasn't playing *that* long ago.

72
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 2:19pm

Whats the Hall of Fame have to do with this? Thats a reward for longevity, not greatness. Anyways, I can't imagine a GM selecting Emmitt Smith over OJ, Dickerson, or Sayers...not to mention Bo Jackson, Marshall Faulk, LDT.

I think a lot of Cowboys fans would put Emmitt behind Dorsett. I'd rather have Billy Sims. Terrell Davis. Thats 12 right there I'd put above Emmitt.

So yeah...top 10 I think "no chance" fits...

73
by Dean :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 3:05pm

Off the top of my head, I'd take the following backs over Emmitt.

Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Bo Jackson, Sayers, Dickerson, Campbell, Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas, Marcus Allen, Jim Brown, OJ, Payton, Riggins, Jim Taylor, Steve Van Buren, Jim Thorpe, Nagurski, Grange, Blood McNally, Ernie Nevers...

That's 20. I'm sure if I gave it more thought, I could probably lengthen the list. Here's the thing - it's not an insult to say that these guys were better than him, and it still puts him "above" some all time greats.

74
by Nathan :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 3:27pm

Sure there are some amazing backs whose careers ended before their time but the Hall of Fame is still a lot closer to "Hall of Great" than "Hall of Longevity".

As far as Dorsett vs Smith... You're telling me if I offered your favorite team two rookie backs and a crystal ball and you gazed into the ball and saw that Back A would rush 3,000 times for 13,000 yards (4.3 avg) and 77 TDs over 12 years while Back B would rush 4500 times for 18,000 yards (4.2 avg) and 164 TDs over 15 years you would take Back A? Cause I'll take Back B every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

75
by Dean :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 4:21pm

Fortunately, we have more than those 5 pieces of information, and a fuller picture with which to make the determination.

76
by Theo :: Thu, 05/20/2010 - 5:17pm

What? 3 years of high level running back play? That's about how long a running back on average lasts. So That would cost you 1 pick. Lets say you draft Curtis Enis so you need 2 picks.
That's 2 picks just for a running back.
I'd take Emmitt.

78
by DeltaWhiskey :: Fri, 05/21/2010 - 2:19am

Please elaborate on what other pieces of data you would make your determination based on. It seems like when discussing Emmit, the halo effect is frequently at work. Just because Emmitt has proved himself to be a completely incompetent moron in the broadcast arena his ability as a back has been greatly diminished.

79
by Shattenjager :: Fri, 05/21/2010 - 1:57pm

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=3301

His line may not have been as dominant compared to other great RBs' lines as most people think.

77
by CandlestickPark :: Fri, 05/21/2010 - 12:35am

Hopefully someone still reads this, but it's going to take a lot more than just getting a couple of undrafted college football players to the top of rugby union.

For the same reason you can't just take a rugby league star and stick him at tight end you can't get some athletes and turn them into great rugby players. The ability to read games and make decisions on the fly is something that takes years upon years of playing and even at the highest level America suffers from the deficit that comes from guys not picking up the game until they're, at best, in high school.

You can only really transcend that in two ways:

1) Have better athletes than everybody else. Not happening, since those guys will be in the NFL and even the back end of the roster makes as much as international caliber players overseas.

2) Have guys be *really, really, really* smart. I've gotten to know a couple US guys who have been successful players overseas, and they're to a man smart guys.

80
by Lebo :: Fri, 05/21/2010 - 2:19pm

In 2001 the Boston College rugby team came to New Zealand for a tour. My club put together a combined under 19s & 21s team to play them. It was early March, so it was our first hit out of the season. Their players had only been playing for about three years. From memory we put about 60-odd points on them.

Sure, these guys weren't 'quality undrafted college football players'. But by the same token, we weren't professional rugby players. And the difference in playing ability was pretty huge.

10
by Lebo :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 5:34pm

I struggle to see any 23 year old making an impact in the NFL if he's never played American Football before. Inglis is a beast in Rugby League. But most Rugby League players struggle to make an impact in Rugby Union - a very fairly similar sport to Rugby League. The skill set in American Football is completely different to the Rugby codes and will be much harder to pick up.

Inglis is great because at 6'5" and 230 lbs he's about as big as they come in Rugby League. He is to a Rugby League backline what Brandon Jacobs is to a secondary.

Plus, in Rugby League you can pass (lateral) while getting tackled. So if a defender tackles him low then he can offload (lateral before he hits the ground) to someone else. But if a defender tackles him high then he can fend the tackler off and continue running down the field.

Without his size advantage and ability to lateral, Inglis will need to rely on traditional American Football skill sets to succeed.

I've never seen Inglis play American Football. But I'm guessing that he has no blocking technique, doesn't run routes, can't change direction on a dime, and doesn't read offenses. Without these skills he will struggle to play TE, WR, RB, returner, or defense.

This really does seem farcical to me. It reminds me of when rumours of Jonah joining the Cowboys were circulating in the '90s.

(Apologies about the soundtrack on the Jonah video.)

11
by Sophandros :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 5:40pm

Jonah would have been interesting, to say the least. But I agree with you regarding the transition from League to Gridiron. I do, however, think that a Union play could potentially transition better, primarily the back row player and the deep three players.

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Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

14
by Sifter :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 7:26pm

Alert: I'm Australian and I know a lot about Greg Inglis and his abilities. Sorry if I'm losing some readers with local babble...

Yeah I hear where you're coming from but there's some things I don't agree with.

First, most league players struggle to make an impact in union? No, there's a reason why Rugby Union tries to lure as many rugby league players as possible. They are fitter, they are usually better athletes and they get paid less in league. Top level league players have done very well in Union. Recent big names converts like Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri, Mat Rogers and even Timana Tahu have all made the Wallabies team in only a year or 2 of joining rugby union ahead of guys who have played union all their lives.

Second, Inglis is not just a big bulldozer as you make him out. He's agile, quick, strong and fast. He doesn't beat defenders just by running them over, he steps around them, fends them off and uses his footwork to zip through holes. He's also got excellent leaping ability that could let him play as a receiver/tight end after a while. Most of those plays in the youtube link there are good examples, but he was lighter back then. Somewhere around 200-220 max I'd say for most of that clip.

And, yes of course no one's seen Inglis play American football - he probably never has. Of course he won't have blocking technique or be able to read defenses. He's a project - the kind of guy you'd send to NFL Europe for a couple of years, if it existed anymore. I think with a couple of years investment he's the kind of kid who could do very well, it just needs some coaching imagination and some hard work from Greg himself.

But that's the biggest issue here IMHO: passion and drive to succeed in a new sport. Inglis to me seems like the kind of guy who PROBABLY takes training pretty easy - I don't KNOW of course. His whole life he's been bigger and faster than his opponents and he might struggle to adjust. The other thing is I really think he needs a mentor/focused objective. I think, the 'hey lets have a look at this kid and then we'll worry about what he could be later' is probably the wrong way to approach him. IMO, you'd be better finding a coach watching his tape and saying 'I think he'd be a great RB/WR/TE/LB/whatever', then following that up by implanting visions of glory in Greg's head, some specifics he could work on and some belief that he could make the change and do a specialised job.

The other possible hiccup is his assault charge against his girlfriend. The charge was downgraded by the courts, but it could have been his high profile contributing to that. He doesn't strike me as a model human being.. but maybe I'm just jealous because he plays for Queensland!

32
by Lebo :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:50am

Let's look at which Rugby Union teams and countries are luring Rugby League players:
- Australia: lack Rugby Union depth, desperately need PR to compete in what is probably the world's most competitive winter-sports market;
- England: desperately need a backline to play outside Jonny Wilkinson;
- French clubs: run by billionaire businessmen with more money than sense.
Outside of that, most organisations see Leaguies for what they are - great athletes who will struggle to convert to Union without past experience.

I would also question your point about League players being fitter than Union players. The two codes require different types of fitness, and it's impossible to compare them on an equal scale. When a lock sets a maul from a lineout it might look like he's doing sweat fuck all. But with fifteen 250 lb blokes pushing on all sides of him, that lock is working overtime just to stay upright.

I agree that Inglis is not a bulldozer. He can be when he wants to be, but he can also be very agile. I just don't think he can be agile enough to beat NFL defenders.

And I totally agree with your point about needing the drive to succeed and having relied on a superior Speed Score to succeed in the past. Even though it's unfair to paint Inglis with this brush without knowing him personally.

37
by Sancho Gaucho (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 7:24am

Well, it seems he would fit nicely either in Minnesota or Cincinnati!

58
by jp6v (not verified) :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 12:50am

He's a project - the kind of guy you'd send to NFL Europe for a couple of years, if it existed anymore. I think with a couple of years investment he's the kind of kid who could do very well

So you think the best case scenario is you send a 23-year old to train for 3-4 years and he enters the league at age 27 -- say as a linebacker -- making him a rookie that is older than almost everyone who started in the Superbowl? That's a hell of a flyer to take on a player.

17
by Sean :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 7:53pm

Mat Rogers, Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuquiri and Timanah Tahu were all represented their country at Rugby League, switched to Rugby Union and were representing their country within two years of making the switch. Whilst there aren't many forwards that make the switch successfully, the elite backline players have made the switch with a great deal of success.

If you haven't already, have a look on youtube for some Inglis highlights, particularly this one at about the 50 second mark - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoiaECEyhgc

18
by CandlestickPark :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 9:01pm

I think you need to define success and also its parameters. Tuquiri and Rogers played both codes growing up, Rogers being a schoolboy international. Of course they would be successful in union - they were already familiar with the game.

Sailor didn't, and was something of a bust. The Australian Rugby Union signs rugby league guys for PR purposes and tries to parachute them into the team, and Sailor was not a successful player for most of his time in the Wallaby shirt.

I'd drifted away a little bit from rugby when Tahu came around so I can't speak to him, but it's definitely a mixed bag for the backs despite what you say: Lesley Vanikolo, Andy Farrell and Henry Paul all did a grand total of nothing for England and they were all very good rugby league players. Iestyn Harris found his level for Wales but it wasn't quite the level he was reaching with Leeds.

And Brad Thorn, a lock in league and a flanker in rugby union, has had one of the best careers of any convert, especially when you consider he did not play a great deal of rugby union growing up.

Moral of this story being your success at one code has little bearing on another. I guess it helps, but there is by no means a 100% success rate for league to union converts. That's just propaganda.

26
by Lebo :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:20am

Making the Wallabies (Australian Rugby Union team) is not a good measure of success. Most Rugby League converts are all but guaranteed a place in the team thanks to Australia's thin talent pool and the ARU's need for PR.

As mentioned above, there are at least as many failed converts as successes. I'd like to suggest Jason Robinson and Andrew Walker (despite his propensity to go walkabout) as a couple more successes. However, Robinson might have struggled to represent a country with a more capable backline.

61
by CandlestickPark :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 3:54am

I forgot about Robinson and Walker - definitely two guys who would go in the success category.

Walker would have been an even better player if he had conquered his drinking problems like Robinson did.

27
by DomMd (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:22am

Actually the only British rugby league convert who was a totally unqualified success (leaving aside those who had originally been union players) was Jason Robinson (talk about elite change-of-direction skills, in his pomp he could sidestep six people in a phone box). And while we're on the subject, he would have made an excellent punt returner in the NFL.

Inglis would take a hell of a lot of work, but he could potentially make it. American sports (and the NFL in particular) are much less wedded to the idea of innate skills than European sports, and much more in favour of the theory that "you can't teach size and speed".

9
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 5:25pm

So he's big, strong, and can't really play any specific position? So . . . oh, wait, the Broncos already have Tim Tebow.

22
by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 3:04am

Dammit... Not only did you beat me to what I was planning to post, but your phrasing is better than anything I had come up with so far.

13
by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 7:18pm

6'5", 238lbs, reportedly has run 100m in 10.2 seconds, knows how to tackle and run with a ball in his hand? I reckon an NFL team would be able to find a spot for him. Safety, RB, LB, TE, WR, I'm sure a team can find a spot for him. Especially the Bills. Hell, for them he could start at OT!

Admittedly so could I, but that isn't the point.

43
by Buddy Nix the GM (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 9:35am

You want to start for OT? What are you waiting for? Please call me as soon as possible, we have some openings.

15
by Pauly (not verified) :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 7:34pm

Have to agree with Lebo and Sifter.

He has the physical ability to be a beast but he'd need at least two years learning a position before he'd have a chance of contributing in the NFL.

Mark this one down as an agent making a smokescreen in order to try and create more leverage for his client.

16
by Jazz (not verified) :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 7:46pm

Plus, Greg Inglis owns the best stiff-arm in all of Rugby League.

He could spend all day running deep and out-jumping corners and safeties for the deep ball. And just to mix things up, when the defense backs off throw him a quick screen and watch him pick up 10 yards while throwing the corner to the ground.

His upper ceiling would be a harder-to-tackle version of Randy Moss. Is he likely to be that good? Probably not. But he'd have a chance to be that good.

19
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 9:40pm

I am going to go out on a limb and say he has no chance of being as good as Randy Moss. Zero.

42
by bmurphyuk@mac.com :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 9:29am

Ummm...yeah this is more crazy talk. The guy could bulk up to 250-260 pounds and maybe play a solid LB. Which is impressive. But not a WR...

50
by Nathan :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 11:27am

This guy's ceiling is a harder to tackle version of the most physically gifted WR to ever play in the NFL? A 6 foot 4 inch monster with a 40+ inch vertical and sub 4.3 speed? The guy who scored 17 touchdowns as a rookie and who averaged like 1400 yards and 12 TDs a season for the first 6 years of his career?

Okaaaaaaaay.

52
by Theo :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 2:07pm

Sure there is a 'chance'.
There's also a 'chance' that... oh forget it, the guy won't play a down in the regular season.

20
by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Mon, 05/17/2010 - 11:37pm

What about the reverse direction?

How good would NFL stars (think Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Ed Reed, Josh Cribbs, Patrick Willis, etc.) be if they tried to pick up rugby league?

24
by Jimmy Oz (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 3:13am

They'd be good because they're amazing physical specimens but Rugby League isn't just about quickest, strongest, fittest. Its like saying you can take a printer and plug him in at WR or take a shot putter and put him in at G / DT. It just doesn't work that easy. They might be okay if they picked up the subtlety but if not then best to go back to the day job.

Watch State of Origin on Wednesday night our time (Late Tuesday i think US time) and you can see the best game in League including Greg Inglis (GI). State of Origin is like a pro-bowl, but the result is important to the players and there's no weak rule changes.

47
by Kyle Orton's secret shirt pocket (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 9:52am

Printer at WR?! my HP has a lousy vertical, actually has a lousy work ethic as well. Couldn't see it sticking in the league for long. Maybe move to a front office role.

21
by FMTEMike (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 2:46am

The problem with the transfer from RL to NFL isnt one of physical abilities but the difference in the games and the specific skill sets. Blocking is indeed the biggest difference, not just learning how to do it, but with the ball being able to follow blocking, and on defense being able to recognise where the play is going, and fight through blocking. None of this is a feature of either code of rugby.

Nor is catching anything more than what would be called a lateral in American football (apart from kicks, which are body-caught for protection). When running, you're usually in motion when you receive the ball, not operating from a standing start. On defense, you never have to use your hands to ward off oncoming blockers. And the whole idea of a downfield forward passing game is non existent.

This is not to say the transfer could not be made, but that at 23 it's kinda late to start learning the basic nuances of the game. Special teams tackling maybe.

In britain they had PR event 'tryouts' for a number of RL players--Ellery Hanley being the one with probably the closest match to Inglis, though not as big, and he was 29.
He did have the ability to start running effectively from a standing start, but still....

Of course in union backs would want more kicking skills, and in union the front row has a specific size requirement that's usually too squat for the nfl--in league there might be an easier transition for versatile nfl players.
A rubgy lock of Martin Johnson's size is probably too tall and not wide enough for tackle, not mobile enough for TE, maybe a DE, Tyler Braxton style would be the best fit.

I'd like to see squat linemen (ex wrestlers?) like LaRoi Glover or Steven Neal in the front row--but they would need to change their bodies to allow for the extra running rather than the repeated impacts. I'm sure guys like Julius Peppers or Javon Kearse could find a place. Troy Polamalu would make a pretty good center, and a wide out like Brandon Marshall might make an interesting wing. But they need to be able to tackle and kick too! Brian Moorman might be the player best suited! Wes Welker maybe....

But any transition like Inglis' has to be a long shot...

31
by DomMd (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:46am

Actually Martin Johnson did play DE (and some TE), for the Leicester Panthers team. Leicester Panthers best ever player was their quarterback for the 1988 season, a little known American called Sean Payton...

Most NFL players (even the marginal ones) would be dominant physical specimens in rugby but they'd have to dramatically reshape their bodies for greater stamina and aerobic endurance. Also, as I mentioned above, rugby is much less about size and speed and much more about intelligence, decision making and instinct, plenty of people have had the size and speed to make it but have just lacked the skill.

P.S. I always saw Polamalu as more of a destructive, psychopathic open-side flanker, in the Jean-Pierre Rives.

33
by Lebo :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:54am

Polamalu at 7? Now that's a scary thought.

36
by Forward (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 6:45am

I can hear the fly-halves quaking from here.

Someone like Jonny Wilkinson, or Scotland's Chris Paterson, is an interesting case. Could you have a triple duty kicker/punter/kick-returner, d'you think?

62
by CandlestickPark :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 3:55am

Lawrence Taylor at 7. Think about it.

23
by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 3:05am

On that film he is making guys take some awful looking angles. That is usually a sign of deceptive speed. He didn't look 10.2 fast to me though. Thats not to say he wouldn't be a good football player. The first comparison I thought of while watching him run was Tim Tebow.

25
by AB (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:07am

These stories are invariably ridiculous. Undoubtedly he is a good enough athlete that had he started in football, he could have made it. But at 23, he'd be an overaged "project player".

Why would he go from being the best player in the world at Rugby League to do that?

28
by ammek :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:32am

$$$

30
by AB (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:45am

Quite, but what chance does he actually have to make more $$$ in the NFL than in Rugby League? Very little, I'd suggest.

I've seen his salary estimated at AUD 500k, so equivalent to US$450k ish, which is more than he would earn on an NFL rookie contract. Plus he must make a shedload in endorsements in Australia where he is one of the most famous faces in the game.

In rugby, he is pretty much guaranteed to be a top player for the rest of his career. By contrast in the NFL, his salary would not be guaranteed and he would be doing incredibly well to get a roster spot, given that he has no prior football experience.

The cash bonanza would be if he developed into starter material or above and got a new contract on that basis. But as most people have indicated above, that seems very unlikely.

34
by bubqr :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 4:59am

The investment (time/money) wouldn't be worth it in any defensive position IMO.

Instincts takes a while to develop. He might turn out to be a very good player on coverage units (Punts/Kickoffs), maybe a good KR, but I doubt he could be anything else effectively without too much time and money (and why would he takes time off his prime years to learn something. I think he would try football only if guaranteed some kind of immediate success)...

Plus, I don't find rugby players to be that good tacklers. They wrap up, sure, but they often dive to the knees/ankles on every tackle, with their head down, and that's not proper form tackling in football. The few rugby players that entered our team were not great successes, apart from a winger (not sure of the translation, 11-14 in rugby), who proved to be a fantastic punt returner.

I have to say however that after playing football for a while, I did have some kind of success playing rugby, even though it was tough to stay within the rules when tackling (I can remember delivering lots of good hits though).

35
by DeltaWhiskey :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 5:32am

Ahhh...the post NFL draft/pre-training camp season, where a young man's fancy turns to dreams of sports cross polination...where LeBron James is a TE, where Usain Bolt is a WR, and where Greg Inglis is a __.

38
by Herschell Walker, Bobsledder (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 8:19am

Is this thread in English?

39
by Forward (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 8:57am

Yes, but you're reading it in American. :)

41
by DM (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 9:29am

So he's tall, strong, fast and can't play football. Why hasn't Al Davis signed him yet?

48
by Theo :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 10:09am

There's 2 kinds of rugby?

49
by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 11:26am

Could you imagine if he became a star? There is already a sort of rivalry between rugby and American Football. Would American fans would embrace him?

I'm interested to see what he's capable of and hope he takes a shot at the NFL. I would love to see any sort of cross sport international competition where the best of all the sports come together and find some sort of common battleground. We spend plenty of time on these arguments but don't ever get to see any arguments get battle tested.

My theory is that the world's best soccer/basketball players are the best athletes. Only because these sports have the most participants world wide and therefore face the most competition.

In every country except the US with few exceptions soccer is the no.1 sport. In the US there are at least 2 sports splitting its population of great athletes. In most countries the top 20 athletes are soccer players. I would love to see the outcome of the U.S's top 20 athletes playing one sport.

51
by Brendan Scolari :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 1:04pm

"Could you imagine if he became a star? There is already a sort of rivalry between rugby and American Football. Would American fans would embrace him?"

Rivalry? Ha! I don't think 95% of Americans know what rugby is, beyond the fact that it's some weird sport. I imagine they couldn't care less what sport he's played (I certainly don't), if he's good at football he'll be embraced. However, whoever said he could be a better Randy Moss needs to pass over the pipe. ;-)

57
by Nathan :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 7:22pm

I've got a soft spot in my heart for the guys coming over from Aussie football, I imagine I'd feel the same about any rugby player that made the switch.

60
by tuluse :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 3:43am

People would love it as a human story.

55
by BJR :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 3:34pm

Whenever I have thought about it, it has struck me that Inglis might have the best chance of succeeding in the NFL of any high profile rugby player because he is such a physical freak. In fact I'd go as far to say he would have every chance of success if he was to start tomorrow and fully commit.

But it's clearly just fanciful; why would a 23 year old who dominates his sport and has excellent earning potential - albeit far beneath the earning potential of leading NFL players - pack it in to learn a brand new sport?

If he does visit a training camp it will be purely as a publicity stunt.

56
by bubqr :: Tue, 05/18/2010 - 5:48pm

Honestly, after the success story that was Jeremy Bloom, I wonder why there aren't more players willing to give up on their first sport in order to play football.

64
by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 11:31am

I guess it's just my own personal bias against rugby players. I've been around alot of rugby players with some sort of complex of having to prove themselves.

I always told them to play the sport the best athletes are playing if they had that much to prove. In America the tough blokes play football.