The Detroit Lions have never been afraid to look beyond convention when it comes to finding potential NFL talent.
The team welcomed a German Football League wide receiver (yes, those do exist) in for a tryout last year. There also was Havard Rugland a.k.a. "Kickalicious," the Norwegian YouTube sensation who spent all of training camp with the team.
With Detroit's playoff hopes caput, the team was looking ahead to 2014 by hosting workouts for several players this week. One of them was American rugby star Carlin Isles.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz confirmed Wednesday that Isles worked out with the team on Monday, running a 4.22-second 40-yard dash. Isles played football and ran track at Ashland University in Ohio. He plays wing for Team USA Rugby.
"Indianapolis has a rugby guy as a pass rusher (Daniel Adongo), and I know San Fran brought a guy in (Lawrence Okoye) that was a shot-putter or a discus guy," Schwartz said, via the Detroit Free Press. "I mean, you're looking for athletes. It hasn't been unusual to see basketball players transition to the NFL. That's not just recently, that goes way back. Even track guys like Bob Hayes and Renaldo Nehemiah, things like that.
"An athlete's an athlete. There's skills that you can develop, and if you see something you like then you can work with him."
Adongo and Okoye have yet to make an NFL impact, and the jury remains out if this type of scouting is smart outside-the-box thinking or a waste of resources. We suppose it only takes one.
UPDATE: The Lions signed Isles to their practice squad Thursday, according to the team's official website.