The Kansas City Chiefs are the latest NFL squad to make an unconventional signing. According to NBC Sports, the team has signed former Mississippi State discus thrower Tautvydas Kieras to play linebacker. Kieras holds the Bulldogs’ record for the discus throw.
The Lithuanian has great size at 6-foot-3, 271 pounds, but has never once played organized football. In January, however, a suggestion from a professor led him to start training for the NFL. After finding an agent and heading to Las Vegas to work with coaches, he participated in Mississippi State’s pro day and caught Kansas City’s eye.
“Coaches were so surprised that I had never done stuff,” Kieras said. “They’d tell me to do something, first or second try I’d do it correctly. It might not look as fluid, but then the fifth or sixth time, I look like another football player … It helped me a lot, discus. It was just a couple practices, but I felt comfortable with it. Tell me to run, I run. Tell me to knock the guy out, I knock the guy out. I felt comfortable.”
And Kieras is far from the first player with no American football experience to land a job in the NFL. Last year, the San Francisco 49ers signed Australian Rugby player Jarryd Hayne to play running back and serve a return specialist. Long before that, former Australian Rules football players Ben Graham and Sav Rocca enjoyed long NFL careers as punters.
That said, though Kieras surely still has a lot to learn about how to be effective on the NFL level, his athleticism should help him earn a spot on the roster.