Back in 2016, the Minnesota Vikings made German football star Moritz Böhringer the first player drafted into the NFL that hadn’t played at a college in North America. Today, they got a look at a group of players from other countries that are hoping to follow his path to the National Football League.
All 32 NFL teams were in attendance on Monday in Tampa Bay, Florida, to watch a group of seven international prospects go through their own Combine in an attempt to impress NFL front offices and scouts. The group included three players from Germany, as well as players from Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.
Judging by what I’ve read about the event, the star of the show was the Aussie, Valentine Holmes. Holmes, a former National Rugby League star in his home country, has been working to make the leap as either a wide receiver or a return specialist. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds and, apparently, performed well in the other drills as well.
(And, let’s be honest. . .Valentine Holmes is a great name.)
All of the players involved in the workouts on Monday did it as the final portion of a 12-week program that they attended called the International Player Pathway Program. As a part of that program, Böhringer and three other players were allowed to be a part of AFC North team practice squads as an 11th player that is ineligible to be activated during the season. Böhringer spent 2018 as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad.
It appears that the ability to do this goes on a rotating basis to different NFL divisions. The AFC North got the honors last season, and the NFC South did so in 2017. I’m not sure if the NFC North teams will be able to take advantage of this program in 2019, but if they are it appears the Vikings are making sure they’re ready.