Jordan Mailata wears size 18 shoes, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to follow in his footsteps. Right now, 13 athletes from nine different countries are battling for a chance to win an NFL contract as part of the International Player Pathway Program (IPPP). Here are three prospects who could have the right profile to impress the Eagles’ scouts at a pro day event in March – and earn a chance to wear midnight green.
Marcel Dabo: Cornerback from Germany
Last season, Eagles fans enjoyed watching competent cornerback play from Slay, Nelson and Maddox. But the team is still searching for a long-term solution to play the toughest position in football. Jonathan Gannon has a solid reputation for coaching CBs after working wonders with Xavier Rhodes and Kenny Moore in Indianapolis. As a result, the Eagles have gathered an army of potential protégés – from Zech McPhearson to Andre Chachere, Tay Gowan, Mac McCain III, and Josiah Scott. So far? Nothing to get excited about.
Marcel Dabo could be the man to set hearts fluttering. The 22-year-old German has played just one season in the European League of Football (ELF) – earning a nomination to the All-Star Team and winning Defensive Rookie of the Year. He’s six feet tall and weighs 208 pounds. In 2020, he ran a 4.48 40-yard dash and broad jumped 10’8, while also leaping to a 40-inch vertical. Wunderbar!
Ayo Oyelola: Linebacker from the UK
Since the departure of Jordan Hicks, the roster-builders in Philadelphia have had a severe allergy to competent linebackers. Last season’s new defensive scheme placed additional pressure on the players who filled those spots – and they battled bravely. But while TJ Edwards, Alex Singleton and Davion Taylor showed grit and professionalism, the team is still crying out for an LB with big-play ability.
Coverage linebacker Ayo Oyelola is worth a closer look. In fact, this is his second invitation to participate in the IPPP. After injury hampered his pro day last March, the Londoner moved to Canada and was drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He’s 5’11 and 217 pounds, with lightning speed. While he lacks the experience needed to read the game, he clearly has something NFL scouts like. Blimey, guvnor!
Leonel Misangumukini: Defensive end from Austria
Graham may be going. Barnett might say bye-bye. Kerrigan never showed up. The Eagles need to add depth at defensive end to support Josh Sweat and Tarron Jackson. Averaging just 1.8 sacks per game, the team ranked 29th in the NFL last year. And fans could be in for a long, cold winter if that stat doesn’t improve next season.
Leonel Misangumukini is a lean, long-armed, and athletic defensive end at 6’3 and 258 pounds. Like Ayo Oyelola, this is his second chance at the IPPP after a groin injury curtailed his pro day last year. Now, the Austrian offers an exciting project for the Eagles – as staff could apply the same training concepts that they used to transform Josh Sweat, who has a similar build. Yodel-ley-hi-hoo!
Pathway to Philadelphia?
The NFL widened its search for international talent this year, hosting combines with 56 players from 16 countries. The IPPP participants will feel proud of winning a ticket to Miami but will also know the potential value of an NFL contract, especially in light of Jordan Mailata’s success. In similar spirit, the Eagles also understand the potential value of unearthing the next overseas prospect to hit the big time – and follow in those enormous footsteps.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire