Can former NRL star Jarryd Hayne make the grade in American football? The Newsroom has done some digging and these are our findings.
Difference between NRL and NFL
Game speed – The main difference between the NRL and the NFL is the speed of the game. In the NRL, players constantly run and exert energy for 80 minutes whereas in the NFL players get about 40 seconds of rest between plays. In an NFL game, most starting players on offence and defence will play up to 70 snaps a game. That’s a big difference between both codes.
Playing rosters – An NRL team will consist of 17 players on game day and all of those players will see the field. In the NFL, a team will field a roster of about 45 players for a single game. On NFL rosters, there are on average two players per position, so players compete throughout the season for extra game time.
Equipment – One of the more obvious differences between NRL and NFL is the protective gear NFL players are required to wear during games. This includes custom helmets and shoulder pads. The extra weight slows down players so someone like Jarryd Hayne, who has never worn gear like that, will have trouble with the transition. One of Hayne’s greatest attributes is his speed, but there is a huge difference between running in footy shorts and running in football pads.
The question most fans have asked is “What position will Hayne play?” It seems likely Hayne will play one of these three positions.
Running back – An offensive player who usually stands in the back field before play alongside the quarterback. They are usually handed the ball from the quarterback or other players and are required to make large gains with the ball. A running back is also required to block and protect the quarterback on passing plays. In terms of size and speed, Haynes is of similar build to Minnesota Vikings All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson, a bruising running back, can elude defenders close to the line of scrimmage, as seen in this video. Peterson weighs a solid 100kg – Hayne’s present weight. Hayne will be looking to bulk up for the NFL, but he shouldn’t lose much of his explosiveness.
Wide receiver – An offensive player who lines up out wide and in line with the offensive lineman. A wide receiver runs specific routes on passing plays and is required to catch the ball when it is thrown to him by another player. Usually need to be tall and strong to be able to separate themselves from defenders. An NFL wide receiver who stands comparison with Hayne would be Atlanta Falcon Julio Jones. Jones is 1.91m (6ft 3in) and weighs 100kg. Hayne is 1.89m (6ft 2in) and also weighs 220 pounds. Jones is considered an extremely reliable receiver in terms of his ability to catch the ball in tough situations. Jones is also considered one of the fastest receivers in the NFL.
Kick returner – A special player whose job is to return punts and kickoffs. They’re usually speedsters who can elude defenders in space and catch the ball under pressure. Hayne is definitely a prototype kick returner with his ability to eluding tacklers evident in most Parramatta Eels games, such as this game against the Newcastle Knights last season. As a kick returner, 23-year-old Minnesota Vikings star Cordarrelle Patterson looks like the 26-year-old Jarryd Hayne in pads. Hayne shares the skills Patterson displays in his ability to get out in the open field.
The theory may be a long way from the harsh reality of a code swap. Hayne faces a massive battle in his quest to fulfil a childhood dream. – Lachlan Brunton
Top photo from Craig Hawkins’s Flickr photostream.