Last weekend, after Usain Bolt easily broke the 100 meter world record, sam23 put up a Fan Post about the idea of Bolt signing with an NFL team. Plenty of discussion ensued.
Well, I noticed discussion at other sites before seeing an article posted today at nfl.com discussing this very topic. Gil Brandt is a former Cowboys scout who writes features for nfl.com and he compared the potential of Usain Bolt to that of a Cowboys draftee, Bob Hayes (among others):
Bolt electrified the Olympics this week as he set records in both the 100-meter and 200-meter events. He became the first Olympian since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win gold in both those races.
FYI, we drafted Lewis in the 12th round of the 1984 draft. It was a calculated risk; Lewis never signed with Dallas.
We had set the ultimate precedent for that 20 years earlier, when we used our seventh-round draft pick on a marginal running back from tiny Florida A&M. Of course, it wasn't his skills as a running back that impressed us. We drafted Bob Hayes for one reason and one reason only: speed.
Hayes had already set records in track, but his finest moments as a sprinter came later, in the 1964 Summer Games. Hayes set a then-world record of 10 seconds flat in winning gold in the 100 meters (even though he was running in a lane that had been badly worn from a race the day before). And in the 4 x 100 relay, he led an amazing come-from-behind victory with a 100-meter leg that was unofficially timed at 8.6 seconds.
When Hayes arrived in Dallas, we moved him to wide receiver to best take advantage of his speed, and it proved to be a wise move.
The Cowboys created unique schemes to get Hayes the ball and found particular success on wide receiver screens.
In his final thoughts Brandt said:
So would Usain Bolt make it in the NFL?
There's no way of knowing for sure. He's got a tremendous body. The thing that would concern me is that he's such a long strider. Those long legs help him run fast, but they wouldn't do a lot of good making cuts.
That said, he could probably fly past most any cornerback. If he had any hands at all, he'd be scary. Certainly worth giving him a look if you're a team in need at receiver.
I may have overlooked it, but Brandt makes no mention of the football experience issue. Hayes had some football experience before the NFL, something Bolt lacks. Anyways, thought this was an interesting followup to sam23's Fan Post.