Last week we brought you the news scouts for the 49ers were one of several NFL teams scheduled to attend the workout of two National Rugby League (NRL) stars Jason Taumalolo and Valentine Holmes. Like former 49ers and NRL superstar Jarred Hayne, Taumalolo and Holmes plan to take their talents down the same path Hayne attempted in order to fulfill their NFL dreams.
According to Peter Mitchell of the Australian Associated Press, the workout occurred this past Saturday in Los Angeles, and the two-hour session left a favorable impression with the numerous scouts on hand.
"They are big, strong athletes," the Eagles scout said. "The balance, strength, body control, the change in direction, they have that. Their discipline today was outstanding."
A couple of days prior to the Saturday workout, Jeff Foster, president of National Football Scouting and organizer of the annual NFL combine in Indianapolis stated, “We'll weigh and measure them and put them through a series of timed events like the 40 yard dash, three cone drill, the shuttles, we'll broad jump and vertical jump ... From there we'll run them through some simple position specific drills.”
At the completion of the two-hour session, Foster also spoke favorably of the two NRL stars lauding not only their physical talent, but their intellect as well. Moreover, what made the workout more impressive was unlike NFL-bound college athletes with a six to eight week window to prepare for the combine, Taumalolo and Holmes performed many of the drills for the first time with quick and minimal instruction.
"Both players were told what to do, they did it one time and they were done, which I think speaks highly of them and their ability to listen, learn and to perform under what was probably a lot of pressure," Foster said.
Unfortunately, we do not have the results from all the specific drills performed; however, we do have their 40-yard dash times available. Here's a quick recap of what the 40-yard dash indicates.
The marquee event of the combine is all about speed and explosion with the timed 40-yard interval measuring vertical speed over distance and acceleration from a static start. Prospects are also timed at 10 and 20 yard intervals (10-yard split and 20-yard split), where the 10-yard split measures initial quickness and burst, and the 20-yard split measures sustained quickness and burst.
Jason Taumalolo, 6'1" - 250 lbs., 4.90 40 - Age: 23
Projected NFL Position: Fullback, Tight End, or Linebacker
Quick Analysis: A thundering bulldozer plowing through defenders breaking tackles and taking advantage of his strength and power to manhandle opponents (tremendously physical at the point of attack). Displays impressive foot agility making consecutive moves in a short area with great vision and instincts showcasing the necessary feel and sensing to elude and find the cracks to explode through. Runs very high (similar to the struggles Jarred Hayne experienced), but shows a decent ability to run inside (short yardage). Shows success in open field running, but will need to show similar success in the tighter box of the NFL. Shows great burst and power with the capability of being an intriguing edge prospect rushing the passer. Tackles with explosion.
Valentine Holmes, 6'1" - 195 lbs., 4.60 40 - Age: 21
Projected NFL Position: Wide Receiver or Safety
Quick Analysis: A fluid athlete possessing great explosion and solid straight line speed, the suddenness and balance to be elusive in the open field (the feel to get under tackles), great ball skills, impressive closing speed with an erupting burst, toughness, and excellent instincts and awareness. Displays a good ability judging the ball in the air, snatching balls with superb hand-eye coordination. Shows the speed and ability to take a short pass and run after the catch with big gain (home run capabilities). Similar to Jarred Hayne, displays skills to be effective in the return game.
The next step is for the 49ers, or one of the other NFL teams in attendance (Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Jaguars, Jets, Bills, Browns, Eagles, Packers, Bears, Rams, Cardinals, or Seahawks) to contact their agents.
"It's a waiting game," Holmes said. "We'll have to see what happens."
Nevertheless, Jarred Hayne is in full support of Taumalolo and Holmes desire to transition to the NFL.
“In Australia you always want to test yourself, and I think you always want to ask the question,” Hayne said. “From my point of view it’s just about supporting them and see people step out of their comfort zone. My support is fully behind them.”
Hayne was all too familiar with the struggles of not only making the transition, but the gruel and high expectations needed in order to succeed in the NFL. Beyond athleticism alone, the accelerated development in grasping all the nuances of the game was a huge hurdle limiting Hayne's success, and will need to be addressed for all newcomers to the sport of American Football.
“The playbook is probably the hardest thing, not so much the skill and the talent because they’ve got that." Hayne said. “It’s good to see them really step out. They’ve definitely got age on their side. A luxury Hayne did not have. They’re keen to do it and I wish them all the best.”
Although Taumalolo and Holmes display intriguing skills to garnish attention in the NFL, it looks like their dreams of making the switch will be temporarily put on hiatus, since both players are still contractually committed to play for their respective teams in the NRL through 2017. If offered a contract, look for either Taumalolo and/or Holmes suiting up for the NFL in 2018.