By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
On April 1, the NFL had its “International Pro Day” for 2019. Eight players, from all over the world, worked out for NFL scouts.
The NFL implemented the International Pathway program in 2017 as a way for potential NFL players from around the globe to not only get a chance to compete to play in the NFL, but also for them to have a fair chance at making it. The program not only finds players with the skill to play in the NFL, it also allows them to acclimate to the game. Teams get an extra practice squad spot if they bring on a player in the program, and those players are guaranteed not to be cut that year. While these players aren’t allowed to be promoted to the active roster during that season, it allows them the time to adjust to the speed, complexity, and requirements of the game at the NFL level.
Last season, eight teams carried a player from overseas on their practice squad, and this year eight more players are hoping to make it on the a team this year. The 2019 International Pro Day was held at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers indoor facility. Players from Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, and Mexico participated, after spending the last 12 weeks training with IMG Academy to help them prepare. Let’s take a look at the players hoping to make it into the league.
Probably the biggest name to take part in the pro day was English rugby star, Christian Wade. Wade, a 27-year-old national team member, is ranked 3rd in career tries (rugby’s term for scoring, for those who may not know) in English Premiership Rugby. Wade played as a wing which is traditionally the fastest player on the field.
Valentine Holmes, 23, is a former rugby star from Australia. He started playing professionally when he was 17 years old and has played on the Australian National Team. After winning numerous awards in rugby, Holmes was released from his team so he could focus on his dream of playing in the NFL. If the reported 40-yard dash time of 4.45 is real, he could definitely grab some attention. Homes has said he models his game after Panthers star Christian McCaffrey.
Both Wade and Holmes are looking to play running back or slot receiver in the NFL.
Germany has three players included this year. Moubarak Djeri, a 23-year-old defensive end, was born in Togo, West Africa and then moved to Germany in 2007. He started playing American style football in the German Football League in 2014, playing for the Cologne Crocodiles. In 2018 he signed a contract with the Arizona Cardinals, but was cut the day before training camp started.
David Bada is another defensive end accepted into the program. Bada also plays in the German league, playing for the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns. Bada has stated that if it doesn’t go his way in March, he will return to Germany to keep playing there.
Jakob Johnson, a 24-year-old fullback, played in the German league before he moved to the United States, where he was recruited by Tennessee. Originally a linebacker, Tennessee switched him to offense where he started playing fullback.
Maximo Sanchez is from Mexico and has played in the domestic leagues there. He played on Team World when they played the USA U19. The 24-year-old linebacker plays for Tech Monterrey which is considered one of the best programs in Mexico.
Durval Neto is a Brazilian defensive tackle and former judo champion. At 25, he has spent the last 4 years playing on Brazil’s best football teams.
Could be the first brazilian player, non-kicker, to make it to the NFL
DL, age: 25
6’3″, 308 lbs
3 cone: 7.09s
20y shuttle: 4.5s
40y dash: 5s
— julio (@mourafarias21) April 1, 2019
We all know the NFL is frantically pushing into the world market. The NFL games in London, Mexico City, and now a possible Canadian game, sell out and are hugely popular. Now, with programs like this, fans of the sport can not only enjoy watching it but can actually play the game knowing it may possibly lead to them someday playing in the league.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG
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