How Holmes rates against elite NFL rivals

Valentine Holmes has been released to pursue his NFL ambitions.
Valentine Holmes has been released to pursue his NFL ambitions.

VALENTINE Holmes is attempting to go where Jarryd Hayne has boldly gone before and make the move from rugby league to American football.

Beyond learning the intricacies of a complex and extensive playbook, Holmes has to prove he's got the athletic capabilities to match it with the monsters in the NFL.

You know that old saying that China has more gifted students than most countries have students?

That's the situation we're looking at with athletes in America.

A country of 325 million people is going to have more freak athletes than a country of 25 million.

In Australia, Holmes is a big fish in a small pond but in America he's in an ocean.

Operating as a running back/kick returner seems to be Holmes' best bet to make it in the NFL, so let's compare him to some of the prospects drafted in the past two years in that position.

Valentine Holmes skips away from the Newcastle defence — but could he do the same in the NFL? Picture: Getty
Valentine Holmes skips away from the Newcastle defence — but could he do the same in the NFL? Picture: Getty

The only measurable we have to go by for Holmes are his height (6'1), weight (90kg, give or take a couple) and the 40-yard dash time he recorded during his 2016 trial (a 4.6).

The 40-yard dash is considered the best measurement of an NFL prospects speed and acceleration.

Just about every draft hopeful runs it during the NFL combine and a slow 40 time can be enough to sink a prospects chances of making the big leagues.

Keep in mind there are two main body types when it comes to running backs - compact, powerful runners who get by on speed and footwork and big, hulking, barrel-chested smashing machines who get by on strength and power.

Valentine Holmes was put through his paces at an NFL combine in 2016. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Valentine Holmes was put through his paces at an NFL combine in 2016. Picture: Nathan Edwards

The best example of the former is Chicago Bears sparkplug Tarik Cohen.

Cohen stands at just 5'6 and weighs 81.193 kgs. A veritable dwarf next to Holmes, Cohen gets by courtesy of his blistering speed - he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, which leaves Holmes in the dust.

Leonard Fournette, currently with the Jacksonville Jaguars, stands roughly the same height as Holmes but is 18 kilograms heavier and ran a 4.51.

Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants is also of a similar height but is 14 kilograms heavier and ran a 4.40.

The duo were two of the best running back prospects in recent years.

Saquon Barkley is a measure for Holmes.
Saquon Barkley is a measure for Holmes.

One of Holmes' best assets as a runner in rugby league is his ability to change direction without losing any speed.

That's a great weapon to have but if he doesn't have the acceleration to get into the backfield there's little use for it in American football.

Having said that, this is not the be all and end all for Holmes. He may have gotten faster in the two years since his trial and coming in cold may have impacted his time.

With the specialised training involved in American football he may be able to bulk up or slim down as required.

But he's competing against some of the best athletes in the world and just like Hayne he has a serious mountain to climb.