Eight teams will add an international player to their practice squads in 2018 as part of an expansion of the International Player Pathway program. The players include four new participants and four returnees from the 2017 program.
Started in 2017, the program gives international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.
For the past three months, the players have trained alongside NFL players and draft hopefuls in Florida under the supervision of former NFLUK head of football Aden Durde, running back coach Earnest Byner, offensive line coach Paul Dunn, defensive back coach Donnie Henderson and wide receiver coach Larry Kirksey.
As part of the program, each team in the AFC North will carry an international player on their roster until the end of the 2018 training camp. At that time, the players will be eligible for an international player practice squad exemption. The exemption allows for an eleventh practice squad member, though they are ineligible to be activated during the season.
Moritz Böhringer, tight end/wide receiver (Germany), Age: 24 – Cincinnati Bengals
Böhringer was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, becoming the first player to be drafted directly from European football. He had previously played for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in the German Football League. Böhringer spent the 2016 season on the Vikings practice squad.
Christopher Ezeala, fullback (Germany), Age: 22 – Baltimore Ravens
Ezeala played fullback and linebacker in the German Football League for the Ingolstadt Dukes, the Munich Rangers and the Allgäu Comets. He has focused on the fullback position in his move to the Ravens.
Tigie Sankoh, defensive back (UK), Age: 21 – Cleveland Browns
Sankoh played amateur football throughout his teenage years and attended the American Football Academy at Filton College in Bristol, England. He went on to represent the London Warriors in the British American Football League.
Christian Scotland-Williamson, tight end (UK), Age: 24 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Scotland-Williamson converted to American football early in 2018 after a professional rugby career in England where he was known for his physicality and tackling ability. He graduated from Loughborough University, one of the UK’s leading sports institutions, with a degree in economics.
Alex Gray, tight end (UK), Age: 27 – Atlanta Falcons
Gray captained England's rugby teams at Under-16, Under-18, Under-20 and International Sevens levels. He played for Newcastle Falcons and London Irish. Gray was named in the original extended Great Britain Sevens squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio before suffering an injury. He converted to American football in 2016 after the 2016-17 rugby season.
Alex Jenkins, defensive end (UK), Age: 25 – New Orleans Saints
Jenkins began playing football for the Bristol Aztecs, earning a spot on the Great Britain youth team. He earned a scholarship to play college football at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. He was a three-year starter as defensive end at UIW, posting 3.5 sacks in his senior year.
Eric Nzeocha, linebacker (Germany), Age: 25 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nzeocha began playing football for the Franken Knights youth team in Neusitz, Germany, and was selected for the German national junior team. He played three years at the University of Wyoming, switching from tight end to linebacker before the 2015 season. His brother, Mark, is a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.
Efe Obada, defensive end (UK), Age: 26 – Carolina Panthers
Obada signed as a free agent for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 after playing only five games of amateur football with the London Warriors. He played in the preseason for the Cowboys and spent part of the 2015 season on the club's practice squad. He has since had spells on the rosters of the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons.