Could Jarryd Hayne make it in the NFL?
Jarryd Hayne in action for the Eels. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay
I know I have had a few shots at Jarryd Hayne in the past about his lack of commitment in defence and his love for glory plays.
I have said that he should play in the NFL instead, a league where attackers don’t need to defend but only worry about coming up with a huge play every game. It would be perfect for Jarryd.
At 6’2 and 102 kg, he is a prime physical specimen blessed with an incredible sidestep and the gift to notice tiny gaps in defence and be able to skip, step and slice through it.
I know it’s a completely different sport and he will have to adapt to a new environment, learn a new offensive system and strive in a competitive and rather merciless world; but I genuinely believe that Jarryd Hayne, with his special skill set, can establish himself as a professional running back at the National Football League.
I am going to attempt proving this by comparing him with the current crop of NFL running backs.
I am using Hayne’s stats at 2011 for this article. Hayne didn’t have a successful 2011 season with Parramatta. He played 21 games in total and the Eels had a winning percentage of 23%, among the lowest in the NRL. Hayne wasn’t as dominating as his Dally M player of the year winning season in 2009. He only scored seven tries and made five line breaks. However, he did rack up rather impressive offensive numbers.
His 19 try assists was the fourth best in the NRL, he provided 20 line break assists and posed 78 tackle breaks and averaged 140 metres per game. All respectable figures, and he did this while shuffling between fullback and five-eighth. I would also argue that tackle breaking is a more important quality in the NFL than try scoring. Although he had a forgettable season statistically, he is still one of the most threatening genuine attacking weapons in the NRL, just look at this.
Playing as a NFL running back would make the most of Hayne’s offensive prowess.
He has the necessary size to succeed at a position where the essence of the job description is to find gaps in defence and execute moves to break though it. He might also have to do a bit of receiving, but the clip showed he can do just that.
He exhibited that he has superb ball control skills and soft hands when he regathered the ball after Steve Turner momentarily knocked it out of his hands. As far as I am concern, there isn’t a major flaw in his game that would prevent him from being a decent NFL running back.
For the purpose of this article, I sampled an elite running back from a struggling football team. The Jacksonville Jaguars went 5 for 16 last year, a disappointing season for everyone involved. However, their star running back Maurice Jones-Drew had a spectacular statistical season. He rushed for most yards in the NFL, posing 1,606 yards.
However, if you further examine his numbers, he is only ninth in the league for 20+ yard rushing, the equivalent to a line break. He placed 19th for average yards, meaning he wasn’t as dominating as he seemed. He racked up his production numbers by having more carries than other running backs.
Maurice Jones-Drew earned a base salary of $4,050,000 in 2010, he also received a signing bonus of $3,500,000 and a miscellaneous bonus of $360,000, posing a staggering $7,910,000 on the salary cap. That seemed like a ridiculous amount of money but he was not the highest paid running back in the NFL, he was only good for third when it came to base salary.
It would be unfair to suggest Hayne could play at Jones-Drew’s level or command his salary. But he is three years younger than Jones-Drew so there’s time to improve. Hayne is reportedly on a deal that earns him $500,000-600,000 a year. The exact amount is unknown because NRL clubs do not release contract details.
Let’s look at a running back earning a similar amount of money.
Tashard Choice earned $555,000 in 2011 as a backup running back, similar to what Hayne is earning, but let’s look at his numbers. Choice rushed for 152 yards in total last year, placing him 89th in rushing yards.
In fact, Maurice Jones-Drew ran more yards last season than what Choice accumulated throughout his entire professional career. He was so bad he got cut by not one, but two teams last season.
And guess what, he just extended his contract for $700,000.
It would be hard to believe that Hayne won’t contribute to a football team as much as the 89th best rusher in the league. I kind of think it is understandable that he went shopping instead on a match day.
If I were his agent, I wouldn’t be chasing a Thurston-sized deal. I would be heading to America, sending every NFL team this video.
I reckon I deserve at least 1% commission of Hayne’s NFL contract, right?
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