With the NFL draft just 3 1/2 weeks away I thought i'd write an introduction of this years British talent hoping to hear their name called or receiving free agent offers when the unofficial 8th round begins. Naturally i'd love to see at least one of these guys get a shot to become a Bill.
Menelik Watson OT Florida State 6'5 310 lbs (Manchester, England)
Typical of recent British NFL hopefuls Watson started his journey by playing another sport first. Watson played basketball at Marist before switching sports and playing at Saddleback JUCO for a year. Watson then moved on to Florida State where he played at right tackle and is projected as a potential left tackle prospect at the pro level. Prior to the combine many draftniks had Watson as an outside shot at the 1st round however he disappointed in tests which combined with his lack of experience means he is more likely a day 2 prospect. Watson might be in play for the Bills if he slips to round 3 due to lack of experience and being slightly older than other prospects, he will be 25 his Rookie year.
Tom Wort ILB Oklahoma 6'0 235 lbs (Crawley, England)
Wort has a long held passion for the game which he inherited from his father who played for British amateur teams London Olympians and Crawley Raiders. Wort moved to the US aged 14 when his father's job changed. As soon as Wort moved to the US he joined his high school team. After receiving offers from several colleges Wort chose the Sooners. Wort, who is a solid run defender, had his best season in 2011, where he earned an honorable mention on the All-Big 12 team. Wort recorded 71 tackles (4.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, and two pass breakups. In 2012, Wort played in all 13 games, but saw his playing time diminish as the Sooners opted to load their secondary to stop the pass. On the season Wort recorded 53 tackles (5.5 for loss), two sacks, and one pass breakup. Wort put up respectable numbers at the combine but didn't wow anyone. At this point it looks like Wort will probably be an undrafted free agent with potential to go in the 7th round. His best chance on making a roster is as a special teamer or landing on a practice squad. With the bills needs at LB I wouldn't be shocked if offered him a try out at rookie minicamp.
Lawrence Okoye DE Team GB Athletics 6'6 294 lbs (Croydon, England)
Okoye, aged only 20, is the British discus record holder, the 2011 under 23 European champion, finished in 12th place at London 2012 and is expected to medal at Rio 2016. Okoye also played Rugby Union at academy level for professional sides London Irish and London Wasps before focusing his efforts on London 2012. I think it's safe to say he is a pretty special athlete however he is also due to attend the prestigious Oxford University in 2017 to study Law, he deferred his studies to focus on his sports career. Okoye has been in the states doing warm weather discuss training and took the opportunity to participate in the Atlanta Regional Combine where he made quite an impression and has earned an invite to the Super Combine in Dallas. Okye said to the British press...
"I’ve had some meetings since, and done some private workouts with some clubs. I’m talking about some of the best known and biggest teams. With the college draft not taking place until the end of April, I won’t be officially signing anything or becoming a pro footballer until then, but I have no reason to believe that it’s not going to happen."
It's unlikely that any team actually spends a pick on Okoye, given that he has never played the game. His athletic upside though is huge and it's likely he will receive some offers once the draft is over. He is exactly the type of prospect that could do with spending some time on a practice squad.
Regardless of where these guys end up I’ll be rooting for them as they seek to follow in the footsteps of last year’s 5th round selection of the Oakland Raiders Jack Crawford and make an NFL roster.