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Five Players NFL Teams Should Scout At Soldier Field This Weekend

By Jamie Wall
Dane Coles, ready to go at number eight

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Are you an NFL scout heading to Soldier Field in Chicago to watch the All Blacks play Ireland this weekend? Jamie Wall picks some potential converts to keep an eye on.

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The All Blacks return to Chicago this weekend, to spread the good word of rugby to the vast, untapped market that is the United States of America. Or, if you’re more cynical, to be trotted out by AIG so the global insurance firm can show off their logo-emblazoned toy set to clients. At least in Ireland they should get a slightly more challenging assignment than the US Eagles.

The match will again be played at the iconic Soldier Field, which every other weekend during the North American winter is home to the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. The Bears picked up an upset win on Monday Night Football this week, but it’s been a lean few decades for the franchise since the glory days of the mid-80s.

Maybe they should take a look at a few of the guys running around their ground on Saturday afternoon. In fact, there’s more than just the All Blacks to look at when it comes to rugby personalities that wouldn’t look out of place in the NFL:

Running Back: Aaron Smith
Most of the All Blacks backs are actually too tall and wide to fit through the tight blocking schemes of an NFL run game. Smith has shown an ability to make the most of the briefest opportunities, both around the ruck and while waiting at the airport. Plus, the way TJ Perenara is playing, he might be looking for a new job anyway.

Tight End: Dane Coles
The All Blacks hooker has shown he’s a threat in the tight and with ball in hand, so he’d be perfect out on the edge of the line of scrimmage. Whether he uses his big frame to throw a few blocks or catch passes over the middle, Coles could showcase his nose for the endzone. Given that TEs are currently getting more receiving yards than ever before, he could probably command a decent contract, too.

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Kick Returner: Ben Smith
This one probably requires the least amount of adjustment. Smith has been fielding kicks and running them back with interest consistently for the last few seasons. Despite the amount of touchbacks and fair catches he’d have to take, it’s probably fair to think he’d provide a decent amount of highlights.

Linebacker: Jerome Kaino
Imagine how much damage Kaino could do if he was allowed to hit people when they aren’t expecting it? Actually, considering the NFL is currently having to pay out millions in compensation for concussion-related injuries, it’s probably best if Kaino stays where he is.

Kicker: Johnny Sexton
Signing Beauden Barrett would likely only result in more farcical endings like last month’s Seahawks vs Cardinals game. The Ireland kicker’s not bad.

Unhinged NFL coach: Several options
Michael Cheika would fit right in on a sideline where he’s actually allowed to throw tantrums at referees, while Eddie Jones’ trash-talking press conferences are a perfect fit for the quote-hungry American media. Meanwhile, the current US Eagles coach is none other former All Black and all round weirdo John Mitchell, so he’d be right at home as well.

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