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Sunday, August 17, 2008
Could Olympic sprinter Bolt to the NFL?


Posted by ESPN.com' s Bill Williamson

As Jeremy Green and Ted Sundquist watched Jamaica's Usain Bolt win the 100-meters sprint at the Bejing Olympic games in a world record time of 9.69 seconds, the football men quickly had the same thought.

Could this guy be an NFL receiver?

 
 Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images
 He's certainly fast enough – but would Jamaican runner Usain Bolt's speed translate as a NFL receiver?

They are both confident that was collective thought in 32 NFL buildings this morning. Even though he'd be a raw talent, Usain has two wonderful things going for him: He is the fastest human in the world and he stands 6-foot-5.

"I'm sure it's being talked about all over the league right now," said Sundquist, who was fired as the general manager of Denver in March. "The nature of the league is to be captivated by speed and size and this kid is blessed with both."

Here is how Green, of Scouts Inc., sees it: "We all go to the combine every year to look at receivers who are 5-11 and who run a 4.7 40. Why not this kid? I could see it."

If Bolt would have any interest in attempting to play football, these two longtime NFL men believe there would be interest. Bolt is 21 and would have time to learn the game.

"If this kid said he wanted to tryout out for the NFL and he traveled to Miami for a workout, I guarantee at least half the teams would send somebody to check him out," Green said. "I'd go. I wouldn't want to be the team to miss out on a guy like this if he panned out."

The idea of a sprinter playing in the NFL is not new. Sprinters like Bob Hayes, Renaldo Nehemiah, Willie Gault and James Jett all played in the NFL. In recent years, sprinter Justin Gatlin had several NFL workouts.

"It has happened before," Green said. "But none of those guys were as fast or as tall as Bolt is. It's a legitimate thought."

Still, both Green and Sundquist said while Bolt has a good start because of his size and speed, there would be plenty of work to do. He'd have to be able to catch the ball, learn to run routes, learn to block and be able to take a hit.

"It wouldn't necessarily be easy," Sundquist said. "Sprinters don't always translate to the NFL. By nature, a lot of sprinters are ginger."

Still, Sundquist went back to Bolt's size and speed.

"Maybe there's a team that tells him, 'Don't worry about it. Just run go routes. Just run as fast as you can and we'll throw you a deep ball,' " Sundquist said. "If that's the case, he could be dangerous. You can't deny his gifts. That's first thing you think of when you see him."