Where have all the best international players gone?
Graphics: Igor Lazarevic
After three days and 262 selections, the 2022 NFL Draft is finally over.
This year’s draft had a new wrinkle as it was filled with a historic number of international players. From first-round players to undrafted free agents, the 2022 NFL Draft class was filled with international talent eager to prove themselves at the highest level of the game.
Let’s see how draft day went for these global dream chasers:
George Karlaftis, OF Purdue, Greece (1st round, 30th pick) Kansas City Chiefs
The only international first round of the night joins Andy Reid and a stacked Chiefs team. look for it Greek pass rusher to be an immediate contributor. Karlaftis moved to WE from Greece as a teenager and quickly fell in love with American football, eventually becoming an All Big-Ten defender for Purdue.
The next chapter begins… thank you Kansas City Chiefs! pic.twitter.com/oHwrvnvAyn
—George Karlaftis III (@TheGK3) April 29, 2022
Arnold Kevin Ebiketie DE/LB Penn State, Cameroon (2nd round 38th pick) Atlanta Falcons
Another Penn State nittany Lion who heard his name on draft day was Arnold Ebiketie. Born in Yaounde, Cameroon (the hometown of NBA star Joel Embiid), Ebiketie ended up playing high school football in the talent-filled Maryland region, before obtaining a grant for Temple University.
Ebiketie spent four seasons with the Owls before going to Penn State in 2021. In its first year in Good Valley, he led the team with 18 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks on his way to the first team All Big Tens honors. Scouts love his quick hands and variety of pass-rushing moves, but question his overall athletic ability. Most observers had predicted that Ebiketie would not go until the third or fourth round of the Rough draft.
John Metchie, WR Alabama, Canada (2nd round 44th pick) Houston Texas
Metchie joins the Texas rebuild in the middle of the second round. He was slated as a possible first-rounder in November, but he tore his ACL late in from Alabama season, making his status for 2022 uncertain.
That moment when a lifelong dream for John Metchie III came true. ❤️🏈 pic.twitter.com/QMXI48DA4x
— NFL Canada (@NFLCanada) April 30, 2022
David Ojabo, OF Michigan, Nigeria/Scotland (2nd round, 45th pick) Baltimore Ravens
Once considered a potential top-ten pick, an unfortunate Achilles tear on his pro day cost Ojabo first-round status and a big payday. However, he didn’t have to wait long on Friday night and is now entering an ideal long-term situation in Baltimore.
Bernhard Raimann, OT Michigan, Austria (3rd round, 77th pick) Indianapolis Colts
In one of the surprises of the repechage, Raimann fell in the third round where he was quickly picked up by the Foals. Raimann was considered by many draft analysts to be a first-round talent, but the Austrian was only selected in the third round. He should fit in well from Indianapolis zone operating diagram.
Bernhard Raimann – Indianapolis Colts – Pick No. 77https://t.co/yHSvyBBJ3M
— TheColtsWire (@TheColtsWire) April 30, 2022
Daniel Faalele OT Minnesota, Australia, (4th round, 110th pick) Baltimore Ravens
The biggest prospect in the draft at 6’9 380 pounds Faalele is hard to ignore. Faalele was a viral sensation in high school at IMG for its breathtaking size. This massive frame has led to 31 starts in 34 games for the Minnesota Gophers. Last season, Faalele was named 1st team All Big Ten.
The catch is that the scouts are worried about the big man’s ability to keep up with the NFL super-fast speed rushers. It goes well with crows powerful running scheme as he can use his size to move defenders in the running game.
Jesse Luketa LB Penn State, Canada (7th round, 256th pick) Arizona Cardinals
canadian Jesse Luketa joins Metchie as a northern prospect. the Ottawa, ON native won the third team All Big Tens honors last year by making 61 tackles, one interception and a half sack as a linebacker and defensive end for the Penn State Nittany Lions. Luketa was projected by many pundits as a second-day pick, so his drop in the seventh round came as a surprise.
Bamidele Olaseni OT, Utah, UK (undrafted free agent) Las Vegas Raiders
At 6’8,340 pounds, Olaseni is a massive lineman with a good upside. the London native had the longest wingspan of the draft at nearly 90 inches. The knock on Olaseni is his age – 26 – and his limited production as a one-year starter.
Olaseni started every game for the utes this season as they traveled to Pink bowl. The massive English was a Juco All American before playing for Utah. He started playing football in the United Kingdom for the London Blitz. He now goes to The ace Vegas and will have the chance to win a place in a rising team.
Standing 6’7″, 348 at the Shrine Bowl, with a wingspan of 8838 and 36 arms, #Utah LT Bamidele Olaseni has next level alluring traits.
I caught almost every pass rep against Drake Jackson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, power hands, last 3 reps against Thibs caught my 👀 pic.twitter.com/96w8r5QCF9
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) March 12, 2022
Luiji Naughty DE Wake Forest, Canada (undrafted free agent) Minnesota Vikings
Another international defender who was due to be picked up on day two but was not drafted is canadian Luiji Vilian. Villain played one season at Wake Forest last year after spending most of his career with the Michigan wolverines. Villain has put up some good numbers in 2021, collecting 34 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and eight sacks. Still, that was really its only year of production.
Jordan Genmark Heath LB UCLA, Sweden (free agent)
A safety converted to linebacker spent four seasons at Note Lady before coming to UCLA. the Swedish the linebacker had a great season for the Bruins in 2021 with 55 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one interception.
Heath adapts to the mold of the NFL good new age linebacker but he hasn’t been picked up yet. Learn more here
Marcel Dabo DB Stuttgart Surge, Germany (NFL IPP Allocation Team TBD)
Dabo, which is part of the International NFL Player Journey program, ran a 4.42 dash for 40 yards, jumped a 40.5-inch vertical, and clocked 21 reps at 225 getting on draft boards across the league. The 21-year-old bully has all the tools to become an impact NFL player.
In 2021, he was the European Football League rookie of the year. Dabo is very likely to be selected as one of the NFL IPP players and assigned to a NFL team soon. Learn more here.
Thomas Odukya TE Eastern Michigan, Netherlands (NFL IPP Allocation Team TBD)
the Almere, Netherlands native was a tight end and a team captain for EMU in 2021. His physical style of play and excellent blocking made him a pre-season mackey (best ET) Award candidate. Still, his limited receiving production of 13 catches for 130 yards and two scores could keep him from breaking into the NFL.
Odukoya is also very likely to be selected as one of the NFL IPP players and be assigned to a NFL team shortly after the draft. Odukoya could also be a promising longer-term project if he is converted to OL. Learn more here
International Player Path Prospects:
Thirteen players are part of this year’s class, including Olaseni, Dabo and Odukoya. Three players from this year’s squad have already signed NFL contracts, like Nigerian Haggai offensive linemen Chisom Ndubisi and Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka have signed as free agents with the Arizona Cardinals and New york Giants respectively before the Rough draft.
Two to four other players from this group will be assigned to NFL teams following the Rough draft. British Ayo Oyelola and Adedayo Odeleye with Austrian Leonel Misgumkini is back for the second time on the program hoping to be picked up this time around. Other prospects that have impressed so far are from Mexico Hector Zepada, Ralf Rusins de Latviaand France Souleymane Karamoko. TE Thomas Odukoya and DB marcel Dabo seems to be two favorites for the allocation to NFL teams. Read the full list here.
Fans around the world are thrilled with the massive influx of international talent ready to hit the pitch this season. Expect next year’s draft to continue the trend of foreign talent as the game continues to grow around the world.