The Buffalo Bills were allocated rugby star Christian Wade on Monday, adding the 27-year old athlete to the roster. Wade joins the Bills via the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, which started in 2017 and provides international athletes the chance to make an NFL roster if they choose to pursue that dream.
Wade is projected as a running back in the NFL, and he has plenty of success carrying the ball, albeit in rugby, throughout his professional career. He has 82 Premiership Rugby tries, analogous to touchdowns in American football, over the course of his career. That total is tied for third all-time in his league’s history.
At 5’8” and 190 pounds, Wade is short but sturdily built and, as a rugby player, he clearly possesses a significant amount of toughness. He was clocked at 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash earlier this month, and while in high school, he ran a 10.8-second 100-meter dash. The big question marks, of course, are how his athleticism will translate to the NFL game, and how quickly he will be able to adapt to the mental part of a game he did not grow up playing.
For the Bills, this addition comes with no risk and potentially great rewards. If Wade can show the kind of speed and toughness on the gridiron that he did on the pitch, then the Bills will have found themselves a solid, low-cost player for the future at a position of need. The team’s top two running backs, LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore, are both on the wrong side of 30 and only signed through the end of this season.