Football is slowing losing its claim as being a strictly American sport. Though the vast majority of players are born in the United States, we have seen a influx of foreign-born players come into the league. 2013 set a record for having the most foreign-born players ever selected during the draft. Even more intriguing is the fact that these players are not just going to be spending their professional football careers on the bench. Five of last year’s draft prospects were expected to be taken in the first round.
Typically, NFL scouts have wanted to stay away from foreign-born players. These players are not considered to be ready for the NFL. This is because football is not played very much outside of the United States. Therefore, many of these players enter the draft with much less football experience than American prospects.
The NFL has really been attempting to beef up their presence in the international arena. Over the past couple of years, we have seen games been played in Mexico and Europe. This trend will not be ending any time soon. The league is also trying to find new ways to gain public interest in the Canadian Football League and the European Football League. There has even been talk about starting an NFL franchise in London, England.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants to keep expanding the popularity of American football. He is proposing more games on foreign land and more media coverage worldwide. The NFL is committed to bringing the sport to as many new fans as possible. This will only mean there will be more players born outside of the United States entering the NFL in the years to come.
With the 2014 NFL draft just around the corner, we will definitely be seeing more of these players enter the league. It is unknown if there will be as many foreign-born players drafted this year as there was in 2013. However, we have definitely seen that NFL coaches are willing to get creative when it comes to bringing new talent into the locker room. These foreign-born players may take a little bit longer to develop than some of the prospects that have been playing the game on American soil their entire lives, but if they can show they have all the necessary talents, they have a good chance at making a career in the NFL.
10 Nate Burleson - WR - Detroit Lions
9 Star Lotulelei - DT - Carolina Panthers
8 Ziggy Ansah - DE - Detoit Lions
7 Sebastian Vollmer - OT - New England Patriots
6 Mike Jenkins - CB - Oakland Raiders
5 Robert Griffin III - QB - Washington Redskins
4 Sebastian Janikowski - K - Oakland Raiders
3 Michael Roos - OT - Tennessee Titans
2 Tamba Hali - LB - Kansas City Chiefs
1 Osi Umenyiora - LB - Atlanta Falcons
London, England-born Osi Umenyiora is the only Super Bowl Champion on this list. He was a member of the Giants when the team won both Super Bowl XLII and XLVI. Since being drafted in 2003, the star offensive lineman has been to two Pro Bowls. In 2005, he led the NFC in sacks. He also holds an NFL record for the most forced fumbles in a single season. Umenyiora is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
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