Why Germany’s Marcel Dabo is the hidden gem of the NFL Draft

Nearly one year ago, a young cornerback impressed coaches at a local combine in southwestern Germany with eye-popping testing. Now one year later Germany’s Marcel Dabo may be the NFL Draft’s best-kept secret.

As an athletic defensive back and receiver, Marcel Dabo was a standout player in Germany’s youth football system playing for the Stuttgart Scorpions. Dabo pursued an NCAA football scholarship but was unfortunately able to secure an offer during his time as a teenager. After no football in 2020, Dabo finally got a chance to play again in the European League of Football after impressing the Stuttgart Surge’s coaching staff at a pre-season combine.

On the field, Dabo flashed the potential to be an excellent defensive back at a high level. The 6’1 200-pound cornerback put up 22 tackles and one interception while playing defense and kick returner for his hometown 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.

Just weeks after the season, Dabo rolled out of the plane and onto Tottenham Hotspur Stadium’s field at the NFL’s London International Combine. Unofficially, Marcel Dabo ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the combine, recording the fastest time of all participants. He also had a 39-inch vertical, 11-foot broad jump, and made 19 reps on the 225-pound bench press test. What was the most impressive is that he did so with little preparation as his season had just ended in September. The performance all but cemented him as a lock for the NFL’s International Pathway Program.

As part of the International Pathway Player Program, Dabo and several other internationals began training for the NFL. They did so with the help of former NFL positions 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 were given a chance to show off their skills at a pro day.

After ten weeks of hard work with performance trainers, it was time to show off his skills. Dabo didn’t disappoint.

In the Arizona State facility filled with division one pro prospects, Marcel Dabo had scouts buzzing. The now 6’1″, 210-pound defensive back first caught the attention of the scouts in attendance by recording a 40.5 inch vertical, a height that would’ve placed him among the top five at the NFL combine in February.

Dabo continued to grab attention by running a blazing fast 4.42 40-yard dash, broad jumping 11’3, and grinding out 21 reps on the bench press. The European League of Football’s defensive rookie of the year, reportedly met with around 20 teams following the workout.

Fast forward to this month and the Colts hosted a Top-30 pre-draft visit for Dabo, showing big time interest in the young international prospect.

The unlikely NFL draft prospect has been supported avidly by fellow Stuttgart native and former New England Patriot Jakob Johnson. Dabo looks to be in line to join countrymen David BadaAaron Donkor, and of course, Jakob Johnson in the NFL come this fall.

While Dabo’s football skills may need sharpening compared to his American counterparts, he has the athleticism, size, and attitude to become a impactful player in the NFL. With such high upside it’s hard to see teams passing up on a boom or bust prospect like Dabo late in the draft.

Watch a short interview with Dabo here:

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