Australia’s Adam Gotsis who is entering his second season with the Denver Broncos after being drafted in the second round in the 2016 NFL Draft, has international company this year. Linebacker Kasim Edabali from Hamburg, Germany who spent the last four years playing for the New Orelans Saints and British offensive lineman Menelik Watson who was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2013 have both joined the Broncos.
All three have the distinction of not growing up around American football.
A decade ago, Kasim Edebali was a teenage quarterback with the Hamburg Huskies in northern Germany. He hoped he might become good enough to one day play for the hometown Sea Devils in NFL Europe. After NFL Europe folded in 2007, he found his way to Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire as an international exchange student for his junior and senior years of high school after laboriously sending out game film to schools across the United States.
After being converted to linebacker/defensive end, he performed well enough to earn a scholarship from Boston College and his football career took off. He played three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, appearing in each of 48 possible games and starting twice. He tallied 54 tackles, eight sacks, three passes defensed and one forced fumble with the Saints.
Adam Gotsis enjoyed an impressive rookie season with the Broncos. He was a part of the seven man defensive line rotation and is expected to challenge for a starting position in 2017. Head coach Vance Joseph is apparently excited about his development.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph is reportedly excited about second-year DE Adam Gotsis, who showed potential as a run-stopper in his rookie year. pic.twitter.com/MKf9r3cmyJ
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 1, 2017
Gotsis, who has played four more years of Australian Rules Football than American football, was drafted 63rd overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos and was the last pick of the second round.
The third member of this international trio for Denver is Menelik Watson.
Born and raised in Manchester, England, Watson grew up on the soccer pitch. He transitioned to basketball after an injury, which led to him to the United States where would eventually take up American football and play for Florida State. He was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by Oakland but has suffered through a spate of injuries but joining the Broncos has been a step in getting him healthier it seems. The toll of transitioning his body into one that can withstand the beating an NFL offensive lineman endures has been great, but the 28-year-old is now feeling healthy and fit in his first season with the Denver Broncos.
“Coming into football – two years into football – I was a basketball player being at 300 pounds being able to run and jump. Then coming into football you’re more grounded, training is completely different, I’m eating a lot more, I’m lifting a lot heavier. I never lifted until I started playing football when I went to the Raiders [as a 2013 draft pick] actually after they drafted me, I packed on a lot of weight and size, then the muscle tears started happening,” Watson said.
The Broncos took a few minutes to speak with their international trio.