What exactly is the NFL International Pathway Player program?

Instituted in 2017, the NFL International Player Pathway 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.

Every year, NFL IPP scouts scour the globe for international talent inviting a handful of prospects to the US for an intensive training camp before the NFL draft. With the help of former NFL position and performance coaches, these foreign dream chasers are given all the tools to learn how to be a pro. At the end of the training, period prospects are given a chance to show off their skills at a pro day in front of all 32 NFL team scouts.

“Since its creation in 2017, this program has been a part of the league’s continuous efforts to strengthen the pipeline of international players in the NFL,” said Damani Leech, the NFL’s international chief operating officer.

Following the draft, one of the NFL’s eight divisions, to be chosen at random, will receive the international players selected from the program should they not be signed to free-agent contracts or drafted. At the conclusion of the draft, each player will be eligible for an international player practice squad exemption with his assigned team. This grants the assigned team an extra practice squad member. Under certain parameters, players can also be elevated to the active roster during the regular season.

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.

In addition to those players on active rosters, 10 international players from seven countries from the program are currently part of their respective teams as members of the practice squad. Given their international status, their presence does not count towards the practice squad player limit.

Given the program’s high success rate, the NFL widened its search for international talent, hosting combines in England and Mexico this past October, inviting 56 total players from 16 different countries. This year 13 prospects from nine countries were chosen for a chance to realize their NFL dreams.

“The International Player Pathway program is an important part of our ongoing efforts to help ensure the best athletes in the world are playing in the NFL – regardless of their country of origin,” said Damani Leech, NFL Chief Operating Officer of International. “We are excited to have players from around the world competing for a spot in the 2022 program.”

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football