How high will French WR Anthony Mahoungou be picked in 2018 NFL Draft?

When the 2018 NFL Draft gets underway next month, it could have a decidedly French flavor.

For the first time since 1989, a French native will likely be selected. Purdue’s Anthony Mahoungou has been touted as a late round pick following his late season performances for the Boilermakers, including his two-touchdown performance in the Foster Farms Bowl over Arizona.

Linebacker Richard Tardits from Bayonne, France, was the first French player ever selected in the NFL Draft, back in 1989. A former French national team rugby player, he was a walk-on at the University of Georgia and drafted by the Phoenix Cardinals. He eventually signed with the New England Patriots where he played for three seasons.

While not an early round prospect according to most pundits, the 6’3″, 210 lb native of Paris who started playing football in France when he was 13, is still expected to go in the fourth or fifth rounds. Apart from the bowl performance, in his senior year at Purdue he had 40 receptions for 688 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Sporting News:

“Mahoungou is a raw talent who is still fairly new to football and, with his size and length, he has tremendous upside.”

While fellow countryman, Anthony Dable perhaps opened the eyes of many experts as to the talent in France after making the practice roster of the New York Giants and spending 2017 training camp with the Atlanta Falcons,  Mahoungou  is providing solid proof.

Although Germany has produced NFL draftees including Moritz Böhringer who was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2016 NFL Draft and Björn Werner who was picked in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, France has never had a player of this caliber.

Mahoungou was a member of the French U19 national team and is totally aware of his background and heritage.

As the first native of France to receive a full Division I football scholarship, he told the Purdue Exponent that he feels an incredible responsibility to his country.

“When I dress up in the locker room, I take a few seconds and (remind myself) that it’s not only for the team but also for your country because people are counting on you.”

Every time the 6-foot-3 wide receiver lined up for a play, he knew he had to perform, not only for Purdue to win but also because he wanted to uphold the reputation of any future French players.

So with the weight of an entire country on his shoulders, how does he prepare?

After every practice he says he would spend plenty of time getting extra catching reps. He wouldn’t bother the quarterbacks he said, instead grabbing a freshman wide receiver to throw with. He would catch at least 200 reps per day to build his hand strength. In other words, there was a reason for his hugely improved play in his senior year.

The Yardbarker:

“The 6-foot-3 wideout, who caught eight touchdowns this season, could join a very short list of French-born NFL players.”

Although his Pro Day did not produce the results he had hoped, he is optimistic:

“I was blessed to be able to perform the way I did at the end of the season and I believe now some scouts are like, ‘Oh, he’s interesting.”

The 2018 NFL Draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.


Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.