A year after IPP, France’s Yoann Miangue still chasing NFL dream on his own

Every year, the NFL selects a handful of players to join the league with a practice roster exemption through their International Player Pathway Program. Each spot is highly coveted, a potential launch pad to an NFL career, but for those who go unselected, the dream lives on.

It was for exactly that reason that Yoann Miangue found himself in Fort Worth, Texas last week for the College Gridiron Showcase. After being passed over in the 2021 IPP cycle, the Frenchman is still looking to make his case to professional scouts, undeterred by the very first taste of rejection in his young football career.

“I had good feedback from there. With the IPP, they select a division, so there is just 4 teams and we are 11, so they have to make choices. If you don’t make it, that doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, they just had to make a choice. I said I cannot give up now,” Miangue explains.

Every year, the College Gridiron Showcase opens their annual all-star event for NFL Draft prospects with a pro free agent showcase and Miangue was one of three European prospects in attendance, all sponsored by All22 – The Global Scouting Network. The newly formed organization is taking a professionalized approach to international scouting, aiming to fill the role of a global BLESTO for teams around the world.

Dresden LB Yoann Miangue making a tackle Photo: Sarah Philipp

After an additional year of development while winning a German Bowl title with the Dresden Monarchs this past season, Miangue was identified as a prospect who would benefit from more exposure to pro talent evaluator. The resulting invite to an event that has been the launch point to NFL second acts for big name draft picks like Malik McDowell was a chance he simply couldn’t pass up.

“It was kind of quick, but I said I can’t miss this. I love the idea of competing with Americans. We are used to playing against Europeans, French, German, Polish, but the name of the sport is American football. You want to compete with Americans,” he admitted.

Since leaving the IPP, he’s taken the advice of NFL scouts and gotten bigger and stronger.  Those results were on display in Texas, where Miangue took part in official weigh ins, combine tests and positional drills in front of dozens of talent evaluators from across the NFL, CFL, USFL and XFL. However, what people see most in the Frenchman is his developmental ceiling.

When he first caught the eyes of the NFL and the French national team, Miangue had been playing for the La Courneuve Flash for just three months. Before that he was a dominant athlete in the sport of taekwondo, winning his first national championship at 10 years old and kicking at the door of the Olympics, until tragedy struck.

“The taekwondo is something I built with my mom and I lost her in 2018. She passed away and from there I was kind of lost and didn’t know what to do,” he recalls. “I tried to go back to training one or two months after she died and I was not really motivated like before. I was going to training just to go to training.”

He needed a change, and that change was football, but despite his almost immediate rise to prominence, Miangue has much to learn. Teams can see the athletic potential underneath the raw technique and should have little doubt he can maximize it.

“As a high level athlete in taekwondo, I know what hard work looks like to get what you want in sports,” he insists.

Yoann Miangué was part of the NFL IPP and worked out at the IMG Academy in Florida along with the other hopefuls Photo: NFL International Player Pathway program

That’s why Miangue is chasing his NFL dream a little differently than other Europeans. While many of his fellow IPP alumni are returning for a second stint with the program, the medal-winning martial artist has chosen to move to the US to train at EFT Sports Performance and TC Boost in Illinois with the hope of carving his own way to pro football, the NFL, or any level below.

“I told myself why don’t I try by myself instead of going through the program again? That’s why I moved to Chicago in November, just to get ready and start combine prep,” he says. “I just want to do it by myself and to make sure everything is good around me to be successful.”

Miangue another pro day later in the year, using his appearance in Texas as a gauge of where he needs to improve. He hopes one day that dedicated training for top European prospects will one day be the norm, something that he believes his partners at All22 will one day help with. Until then, he is simply grateful for the opportunity they provided.

“It was a good deal for me to come here to see where I’m I am now after training for two months and see what I have to improve on over the next three months of my project,” he said. “It was a really good opportunity for me and I’m really thankful for All22 to invite me here.”

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.