Top 20 best foreign NFL players in the League right now

Top 20 best foreign NFL players in the League right now

Since 2017, the NFL International Player Pathway Programme has opened doors for more talented non-American players to join top-tier clubs in the League. These are some of the best foreign NFL players and their achievements in the League as of 2023.

Are there any foreign NFL teams?
Ezekiel Ansah (far left), Chase Claypool (centre), and Jarryd Hayne (far right). Photos by Rey Del Rio, Don Juan Moore, and Renee McKay.
Source: Getty Images

Are there any foreign NFL players? American football has yet to take root on the international stage compared to most major organized sports, such as soccer. Learn more about the program that aims to bring the world to America's most popular sport and its players.

How many NFL players are foreign?

Since 1920, non US born NFL players have been a part of active rosters. In an effort to become an all-inclusive, global game, the NFL established the IPP program that has increased the number of international players who play Gridiron football.

What percentage of NFL players are foreign?

Approximately 3% of foreign players make up the NFL active roster annually. In 2021, the highest number of foreign-born NFL players (85) from Canada, Australia, Tonga, Scotland, Mexico, Germany, Jamaica, Austria, England, and Nigeria joined rosters.

What is the NFL International Player Pathway?

In 2017, a program was created by the NFL that allows elite athletes to live out their NFL dreams. The season-long program begins with international scouting before selected players enter an intensive training camp before drafting begins. At the end of the training, NFL-drafted foreign players are expected to enter active rosters or join NFL teams as extra practice squad members.

How many Asians are in the NFL?
Jarryd Hayne goes through drills during the team's mini camp at Levi Stadium in June 2015 in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers.
Source: Getty Images

Although foreign players in the NFL have been constant since 1920, the program has seen more than 50 players from 18 nations since 2017. The best international NFL players on the program include Efe Obada, Sammis Reyes, Jakob Johnson, and Jordan Mailata.

Who are the best foreign NFL players right now?

Several famous foreign NFL players have joined the ranks of top NFL players, such as Travis Kelce, Jalen Ramsey, and Patrick Mahomes. Here is a list of the top fifteen international football players making waves in the NFL right now.

15. Jarryd Hayne

Has a rugby player ever played in the NFL? Former NRL player Hayne enjoyed a successful rugby career before joining the NFL. Although his career has taken a hit following his arrest and conviction over assault allegations, Jarryd Hayne's 49ers highlights still make him one of the best players.

14. Laurent Duvernay- Tardif

Kansas Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif also ranks highly among the most educated footballers in the NFL. In addition to several awards, he received the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award for helping fight the Covid 19 pandemic as a medical doctor.

13. Ezekiel Ansah

Ansah was selected by the Detroit Lions as the fifth overall pick in round one of the 2013 NFL Draft. The defensive end, whose size, length, and foot speed combination is almost unparalleled in the NFL, is known to deliver solid first contact that jolts any opponent back.

12. Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka

Who is the Nigerian football player for NY Giants? Mbaeteka was one of the thirteen foreign NFL players in 2022 selected to compete for a spot in the league's International Player Program. He is a beneficiary of the Uprise program that aims to discover future NFL prospects in Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

11. Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi

One of the Arizona Cardinals' latest signings is Nigerian offensive lineman Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi, who participated in the 2022 NFL IPP program. Ndubuisi, who also plays basketball and soccer, joined the Uprise Academy, where he trained before entering the IPP program in January 2022.

10. Graham Gano

U.K.-born placekicker Graham Gano is a veteran NFL player who joined the league in 2009 when the Baltimore Ravens signed him as an undrafted free agent. At the time of writing, Gano, who holds 13 years of experience in the league, plays for the New York Giants.

9. David Bada

As of March 2023, the German defensive tackle plays for the Washington Commanders. The Munich native previously played for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, Munich Cowboys, and the Ingolstadtt Dukes in the German Football League before joining the National Football League through the IPP program.

Are there any Africans in the NFL?
David Bada of the Washington Commanders warms up before a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at the M&T Bank Stadium in August 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Scott Taetsch.
Source: Getty Images

8. Jakob Johnson

Before joining the NFL, Johnson began his career with the German Football League while playing for the Stuttgart Scorpions. In 2019, he was assigned to the New England Patriots active roster, where he has recorded over 1000 snaps and the first-ever regular-season touchdown by an IPP player.

7. Sammis Reyes

Chilean tight end Reyes enjoyed a successful basketball career before joining the program in 2020. Although he had never played football before joining the Washington Football Team roster, he distinguished himself as Chile's first American football player.

Is there any foreign player in NFL?
Sammis Reyes of the Washington Commanders participates in a drill during training camp at INOVA Sports Performance Center in August 2022 in Ashburn, Virginia. Photo by Scott Taetsch.
Source: Getty Images

6. Jordan Mailata

The former rugby pro joined the program in 2017, where he trained at the IMG Academy. Following the NFL IPP training, the starting tackle was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2018 NFL draft.

5. Mitch Wishnowsky

San Francisco 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky is an Australian-born player who first began his career in Australian rules football. After dominating college football, he joined the 49ers, where he made records, including one of the most punt yards by a punter in 49ers history.

Will the NFL ever go international?
Mitch Wishnowsky of the San Francisco 49ers punts during the NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in January 2023 in Philadelphia. Photo by Michael Zagaris.
Source: Getty Images

4. Danielle Hunter

As of March 2023, Jamaican superstar Danielle Hunter plays for the Minnesota Vikings in the linebacker position. Hunter, who picked up the game from his Houston neighbourhood, joined the team following the 2015 NFL Draft.

3. Younghoe Koo

South Korean-born athlete Younghoe Koo, whose career began with the Georgia Southern University football team, is the second highest-paid NFL kicker. At the time of writing, the Pro Bowl kicker plays for the Atlanta Falcons.

Is there a Korean NFL player?
Younghoe Koo of the Atlanta Falcons kicks a field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in January 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alex Slitz.
Source: Getty Images

2. Efe Obada

Before joining the IPP program in 2017, Obada played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, and London Warriors. After the training, he joined the Carolina Panthers active roster and won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his first regular season game. In 2021, he signed with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent.

1. Chase Claypool

British Columbia native Claypool made a name for himself while playing with the Notre Dame football team. In 2020, he was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the draft.

Who are the greatest foreign NFL players ever?

Only nine international Gridiron players have received the highest achievement in their careers. Here is a list of foreign football players who made it to the NFL Hall of Fame list.

How many NFL players are in the Hall of Fame?
International kicker Morten Andersen (top left) and Matt Schaub (top right) watch a kick against the New Orleans Saints in September 2006 at the Superdome in New Orleans. Photo by Chris Graythen.
Source: Getty Images
Bruno NagurskiCanadaChicago Bears1930 - 1943
Steve Van BurenHondurasPhiladelphia Eagles1944 - 1951
Leo NomelliniItalySan Francisco 49ers1950 - 1963
Ernie StautnerGermanyPittsburgh Steelers1950 - 1963
Tom FearsMexicoLos Angeles Rams1948 - 1956
Arnie WeinmeisterCanadaNew York Giants1950 - 1953
Ted HendricksGuatemalaGreen Bay PackersOakland RaidersLos Angeles Raiders1969 - 1983
Jan StenerudNorwayKansas City ChiefsGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings1967 - 1985
Morten AndersenDenmarkNew Orleans SaintsAtlanta FalconsNew York GiantsKansas City ChiefsMinnesota VikingsAtlanta Falcons1982 - 2007

The best foreign NFL players add an exciting measure of inclusivity and brotherhood to the world of sports, just like other mainstream sports. The future of endeavours such as the NFL International Player Pathway enables teams to scout talent from far and wide, adding to the quality of the game.

READ ALSO: A list of the past NFL MVP winners to date: Find out more here

Sportsbrief recently published an article ranking all former NFL MVPs. The report covers all recipients of the Associated Press' most valuable player award since 1957 and other awardees as far back as 1939. Check out the link above to discover who was the first footballer to win MVP in the NFL.

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