The NFL International Combine is headed to Germany for the first time.
The invitational scouting showcase, mirrored after the annual NFL Combine staged in the United States, is designed to discover and evaluate potential NFL talent from around the globe. Up to 50 athletes will be selected to go through a series of tests in front of NFL evaluators at Sportschule Hennef, a sports training facility outside of Cologne, on 19 October.
Athletes will participate in a range of speed, agility, strength and skill-based tests, each designed to assess the athlete’s suitability to play in the NFL. Participants will be evaluated for a possible spot in the NFL’s International Player Pathway program.
Following the Combine, a select number of athletes who meet specific performance standards and display the potential to play in the NFL, will be invited to train in the US for 3 months.
“Following last year’s inaugural International Combine in Australia, we are excited to explore the talent pool internationally,”
said Damani Leech, NFL Chief Operating Officer of International. “Since 2017, the NFL’s International Player Pathway program has provided international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level and develop their skills, and we hope to discover new talent through this event in Germany.”
All participants must meet NFL eligibility requirements. Participants are also required to have citizenship outside the United States or Canada. Interested athletes should send a detailed description of their athletic career along with any video highlights to InternationalCombine@nfl.com.
NFL International Player Pathway Program background:
Instituted in 2017, the program aims to provide international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster. For the upcoming 2019 NFL season, eight teams will carry an additional overseas player on their practice squads as part of the International Player Pathway program.
Joining AFC East clubs for the 2019 season are: Valentine Holmes (New York Jets), a former professional rugby player in Australia, Jakob Johnson (New England Patriots), a former University of Tennessee tight end and German Football League player, Durval Queiroz Neto (Miami Dolphins), who played football in Brazil, and Christian Wade (Buffalo Bills), a former England national rugby player.
The four players that participated in the program in 2018 will return to their NFC North teams for the upcoming season. These players are: Moritz Böhringer (Cincinnati Bengals), who was originally drafted in the sixth round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2016, German Football League player Christopher Ezeala (Baltimore Ravens), former British American Football League player Tigie Sankoh (Cleveland Browns) and former English professional rugby player Christian Scotland-Williamson (Pittsburgh Steelers).
Notable International Player Pathway Program Participants Currently on NFL Rosters
Jordan Mailata, Tackle (Australia), Philadelphia Eagles
The 2018 NFL Draft culminated an exciting time for Mailata, a past program participant. The Samoan-born Australian former professional rugby league player for the South Sydney Rabbitohs was drafted in the seventh round by the Philadelphia Eagles (thereby making him ineligible for the International Player Pathway Program). Converted to football full-time early in 2018, the 6-8, 350-pounder impressed NFL scouts at various workouts with his strength, footwork and athleticism, and continued his football journey with the Eagles during the 2018 season as the youngest player on their roster.
Efe Obada, Defensive End (UK), Carolina Panthers
Obada was raised in London after arriving from the Netherlands at age 10. He signed as a free agent for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 after playing only five games of amateur football with the London Warriors. He played in the preseason for the Cowboys and spent part of the 2015 season on the club’s practice squad. He has since had spells on the rosters of the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons before joining the Carolina Panthers practice squad as part of the 2017 International Player Pathway Program. In 2018, Obada become the first player from the NFL International Pathway program to make a 53-man roster. In Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Obada played his first regular season game, earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honours for his one-sack, one interception performance.