Detroit Lions reportedly set to sign Aussie rugby league MVP

Yes, players such as Ali Marpet of Hobart and J.J. Nelson of UAB left the NFL Scouting Combine as intriguing prospects. But another intriguing "rookie" -- who didn't get an invitation to Indianapolis -- is expected to beat all of Indy's fast-risers to the NFL.

Don't worry if you haven't heard his name before; most outside of Australia never have. Jarryd Hayne is not just a former pro rugby player; he's a former National Rugby League MVP who is trying his hand at football and is expected to sign with the Detroit Lions this week.

While everyone who went to the combine now is gearing up for a pro day, Hayne already has had his version, on Dec. 5 in San Diego, in front of representatives from 16 NFL teams. Hayne measured in at 6-foot-2 and 226 pounds, and ran the 40-yard dash somewhere in the low 4.5 range (his clockings were hand-held). He also went through drills run by former NFL running backs coach Clarence Shelmon.

His 40 time matched up well with most of those posted by running backs at the combine.

Hayne, 27, was a two-time winner of the National Rugby League player of the year award.

Former New York Jets tight end Hayden Smith has returned to rugby in Australia after quitting the sport for a chance to try his hand at the NFL. He caught one pass during his only season with the Jets in 2012.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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