sports gazette

Making a rugby team of NFL players

Published: 26 Feb 2017

What if the US invested in rugby like it did for its other major sports? Turns out, it would be a pretty formidable team.

Loosehead Prop: Cliff Avril
One of the most powerful defensive linemen in  the NFL, Avril would be a force in the front row of the scrum. He gets a great push through NFL offensive linemen and should be able to do the same on the rugby pitch.

Hooker: Aaron Donald
With his low centre of gravity and superior lower body strength. The 6’1” Donald would be great in the middle of the front row, holding off his opponents and, hooking the ball back to his side. Though slightly heavier than an ideal hooker at 280 lbs, Avril and Wake are strong enough to support him in the scrum.

Tighthead Prop: Cameron Wake

Despite being in the twilight of his career, Wake has always been able to find seams and gaps, and utilize his power to burst through the opposing offensive line. Wake would be excellent in the ruck, keeping defenders at bay to keep possession for his side.

Lock: Travis Kelce
The first of the 6’6” locks, Kelce brings more of an offensive punch. His excellent hands would make him an ideal lineout target and his strong frame would allow him keep his feet in a maul. He may lack the defensive skill set, but his athletic ability should be able to make up for any shortcomings.

Lock: JJ Watt
The perfect compliment to Kelce, Watt would bring an intimidating defensive presence to the pitch. Watt also brings another big target on lineouts, and despite being a defensive player, has very good reflexes and hand-eye coordination.

Flank: Cam Newton
Newton is probably the only quarterback who has any chance of being a successful rugby player. The 6’5” 245 lb Newton would be extremely tough to take down, and his skill set as a QB would make him great at offloads.

Flank: Luke Kuechly
The fastest linebacker in the league today deserves a spot in the squad. Probably a little less talented offensively than most flanks, but would be a powerful runner and an excellent piece to have in the back of mauls.

Number 8: Rob Gronkowski
Was there ever another option for the number 8 besides Gronk? Great in the air, strong with the ball, and a very powerful runner. Gronk is the optimal number 8 and can pick up chunks of yards at a time.

Scrum Half: Julian Edelman
Arguably the best slot wide receiver in the NFL, Edelman has excellent hands, quick feet, and works great in tight spaces, making him the ideal scrum half for this squad.

Fly Half: LeSean McCoy
Shady is the playmaker you want to have in the middle of the pitch. McCoy arguably is the best at catching passes our of the backfield in the NFL, and his ability to make his man miss in open space would give opposing defenders fits.

Wing: Demaryius Thomas
Thomas has all the physical tools to make a great winger. With a 4.38 time in the 40 yard dash, Thomas can blow by defenders to get to the try line.

Inside Center: Harrison Smith
A ballhawk in the secondary and excellent tackler, “Hitman Harry” would keep ball carriers from bursting through the seam into open space. Quick, strong and good in the air. Smith has the all around attributes necessary to play in the centre role.

Outside Center: Adrian Peterson
The most physically imposing player in the entire NFL, offense or defense. AP is a dynamic player who can run past and over defenders, getting deep into the opposing team's territory.

Wing: Brandon Marshall
The 6’5” Marshall provides a massive target for kicks down the field and is the best in his trade at high-pointing the ball. As one of the strongest wide receivers in the NFL, Marshall would be able to shrug off tacklers and win posession for his side.

Fullback: Antonio Brown
At 5’11” and 181 lbs, Brown may be on the small size for your prototypical fullback. However, for what he lacks in size, he makes up for in his playmaking ability. Brown is not only an impact player at wide receiver, but he is also one of the best punt returners in the league and his tremendous hands and leaping ability makes him the best option at fullback.

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