NFL Combine has become a global event

NFL Combine has become a global event
February 21, 2013, 8:00 am
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Around the world when you say "football" people assume you're talking about soccer, but those days maybe coming to an end.

The NFL and American football in general has always been an American sport. Not anymore. You can see from the increasing number of games each year that are being played over seas and Commissioner Roger Goodell says that one of his top priorities is to bring a NFL franchise to Europe in the next 10 years.

Over the last decade the game has gone global and it shows from the athletes participating in the Combine this week. This is the first draft ever to have two players who hail from Great Britain. There are several athletes who grew up around the world that will be turning some heads at the Combine because of their athletic prowls.

Brisbane, Australia

Jesse Williams - NT (Alabama): Grew up playing rugby and basketball before taking up football at the age of 14. Could be the strongest player at the Combine. A mythical creature of the weight room who has reportedly posted a 600-pound bench press while working out in Alabama's on campus facility. Played for the Queensland Sun Devils before coming to the states and playing at Arizona Western College. Should run sub 5 seconds in the 40 yard dash and with the looks of it has a strong chance to break the Combine's bench-press record. Stephen Paea from Oregon State set the record in 2011 with 49 reps.

Manchester, England.

Menelik Watson - OL (Florida State): Watson is already 24 and is as raw as you can get having just played a ridiculous 20 football games ever. But Watson has the athletic ability and a versatile background that could help him become a dominant player down the road. Watson grew up playing basketball in his native England before attending Marist College in New York to play basketball. Watson as attended Saddleback College in California where he first tried his hand at football. Just six games into his first and only season at Saddleback big time programs began to scout Watson and he transferred to FSU at seasons end. Another advantage on top of having the footwork of a basketball player is the fact that he knows how to use his hands. Watson has spent time working out with Oscar De La Hoya's trainers and has an extensive boxing background. at 6-6 and over 300-pounds he should run under five seconds in the 40. 

Karksi-Nuia, Estonia.

Margus Hunt - DE (SMU): Hunt could go as high as the late first round to the early second round. He's a great pass rusher who's 6-8. Hunt also blocked an NCAA record 17 combined field goals and punts during his collegiate career. Growing up in Estonia he was a track super star. Hunt won gold medals in the shot and the discus at the 2006 World Junior Championships. Hunt's first experience with playing football was when he walked on to SMU in 2009. He should run around 4.7 in the 40 and when it comes to training, his work ethic is second to none.

Ghana

Ezekial "Ziggy" Ansah- DE (BYU): Ansah came to the United States five years ago and could be the highest pick out of the bunch and the best athlete. And that's saying something. Ansah played soccer in his native Ghana, played basketball and with a wing span of seven feet he was better than ok. He also ran track at BYU, and in the 200 once clocked at 21.19 at a Mountain West Conference meet. That's good for a sprinter, but unthinkable for a 270-pounder. Ansah is a huge risk because like many on this list doesn't have a ton of football experience. But he was named the defensive player of the game at the Senior Bowl and this week at the Combine should turn maybe the most heads of anyone.

Melbourne, Australia

Brad Wing - P (LSU): Unlike the others Wing grew up playing football. Australian rules football that is. Wing's father, David, punted professionally for the Scottish Claymores and was cut after a tryout with the Detroit Lions. Wing came to the U.S. for his senior year of high school in Baton Rouge where he first punted a football in an actual game. Wing is leaving LSU after just his sophomore season and is the first punter to declare early for the NFL draft since Chris Gardocki in 1991. But Wing would be worth picking. Wing had five punts over 60 yards in 2012 and a 73 yarder against Alabama in 2011. He has incredible hang time and directionally, he's extremely accurate for a punter that kicks as deep as he does. Wing also has very good speed as a runner and rushed for over 200 yards in 2011. Many won't believe it, but Wing is a game changer.