Germany’s Marcel Dabo shines at London NFL International Combine

Although he was surrounded by football giants, at only 6’0″, 210 pounds, Germany’s Marcel Dabo still stood out at this week’s London NFL International Combine.

The European League of Football’s defensive rookie of the year was once again one of the best young players on the field as his testing and measurements were elite among the group of 44 invited athletes.

Dabo and the other international players spent Tuesday at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium competing for a chance to be selected as part of the NFL International Player Pathway program. Instituted in 2017, the program aims to give elite international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.

The International Combine is the first step in the program’s selection process. So far, the program has helped players such as Jordan Mailata (Philadelphia Eagles/Australia), Sammis Reyes (Washington Football Team/Chile), and Jakob Johnson (New England Patriots/Germany) earn roster spots in the NFL.

According to the head of NFL International head of development Will Bryce, Germany’s Marcel Dabo could be a name to add in the future:

“Marcel is a top athlete, very talented, and has outstanding character. He knows what he wants and is very hungry and understanding what today is all about.”

Photo Credit: European League of Football

Officially, Marcel Dabo ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the combine, recording the fastest time of all participants. His quickness was in fact no surprise as the 21-year-old was rumored to have run a 4.45 40-yard dash while attending a college camp back in 2019 and a blazing 4.40 earlier this year. All in all, Dabo was pleased with his combine performance:

“I’m very happy I had some great combine stats. This stage and this stadium is just huge for any European football player. We are just happy and proud to be here.” (via ELF)

Dabo was hoping to crack into the elite 4.4 40-yard dash club once again. Yet, after narrowly missing the mark, he made up for it by dominating in the other drills and tests throughout the day. Dabo recorded a remarkable 39-inch vertical, 11-foot broad jump, and 19 reps on the 225-pound bench press test. Even with those numbers, he is hoping to improve his speed for whenever he gets his next chance to impress professional scouts:

“I ran a 4.52 today. I wanted to crack into the 4.4’s. But I’m very happy with a 4.52. That’s a good time I can improve on. I believe with a more structured training plan the 4.4’s are achievable.” (via Ran translated from German)

The speed and athleticism created a bit of a buzz as scouts, coaches, media, and fellow athletes were heavily impressed with his performance drill after drill.

NFL International scout Kaleb Leach commented on Dabo’s impressive athletic testing:

“Marcel Dabo came to the combine and proved he is one of the most athletic international prospects this year. This young kid from Stuttgart has a bright future.”

On the field, the quick defensive back put up 22 tackles and one interception while playing cornerback and kick returner for the Stuttgart Surge last season. Dabo’s excellent play earned him a spot on the 2021 ELF All-Star team and the league’s defensive rookie of the year award. For the German NFL prospect staying ready and prepared for any moment is the key to his success:

“When you play American football you know there is a special moment that comes. When it comes you must be ready. During the season I was in touch with a scout I have been training with the Surge in order to prepare myself for the combine.” (via Ran translated from German)

Two years ago, Dabo was seen as a promising NCAA prospect showing off his agility, speed, and ball skills at college recruiting camps through the US. The Reutlingen native first started playing football for the Red Knights Tübingen before starring as junior for the German National Team and the Stuttgart Scorpions. The homegrown youth star made quite an impression at the Stuttgart Surge’s combine this spring before signing with his hometown ELF team for the 2021 season.

Leach on Dabo’s decorated athletic background:

“I have been lucky enough to know of Marcel since he was eighteen. He was tearing up the youth leagues back then. I’m honestly not surprised to see what he is doing today. Some of it is expected. Several websites even had him ranked as a top international college prospect back in 2019. I am very excited to see him develop with elite coaching”

The Stuttgart native hopes to follow in the footsteps of fellow Stuttgart Scorpion turned New England Patriot Jakob Johnson. Johnson used the NFL’s International Pathway program to earn a roster spot with the Patriots and has been the New England’s starting fullback now for three consecutive seasons. The German NFL pro has been vocal praising Dabo and encouraging his fellow Stuttgart native, as he chases NFL dreams.

Fans for hoping for another German player to join the league as Jakob Johnson, David Bada, Aaron Donkor, have all used the NFL IPP to secure themselves a role in the pros. Dabo’s combine stats indicate he could be the fourth German to follow the same path to NFL Sundays.

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and