AFI’s All-Europe Team: Defensive Line – Jan-Phillip Bombek, Hamburg Sea Devils

Some of the selections for AFI’s All-Europe team required extensive debate, with red-faced voters pounding the table for their favorite candidate before a winner finally emerged.

This was not the case for Jan-Phillip Bombek.

To say the 25-year-old Austrian was a unanimous selection would be an understatement. His inclusion on the final list of honorees was barely discussed. His name might as well have been written onto the ballot before it was sent out.

Such was the pure and utter pass rushing dominance that Bombek demonstrated in his first professional season.

After a successful two-year stint at NCAA Division 1 Colorado State, Bombek returned to his native Hamburg to play for the ELF’s Sea Devils in their inaugural season. He finished second in the league with 11 sacks, recording eight solo takedowns and six assists for a total of 14 plays where he got his mitts on the quarterback.

It was an all-star season by any metric, but what made Bombek’s achievement particularly remarkable is that injury prevented him from finishing out his rookie campaign. He posted those eye-popping numbers in just seven games of action, notching sacks at a rate of 1.57 per game. Had he been able to keep up that impressive rate of pressure for the duration of Hamburg’s 12 game run to the ELF Championship game, Bombek was on pace to finish with 18.5 sacks.

That level of success was enough to make Hamburg defensive coordinator and ELF Assistant Coach of the Year winner Kendral Ellison wax poetic.

“Bombek is the type of player that every championship defense needs on their roster. He possesses grit and a mean streak that simply adds to the other things that make him dominant and unblockable. He’s a no-nonsense defender that excels at setting the edge and stopping the run, but his greatest strength is getting after the QB,” Ellison said. “His high football IQ and pass rush know-how make him a huge problem. He’s one of those freaks in the weight room that translates it all to his dominance on the field. There isn’t a better edge defender in Europe.”

The AFI voters agreed whole-heartedly and we aren’t alone. The 6’3″, 260-pound sack artist was one of those invited to the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program combine in London and is firmly on the North American pro football radar.

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.