Europeans Hoping for Big Things at the 2013 NFL Draft

Matt GrayContributor IFebruary 27, 2013

Europeans Hoping for Big Things at the 2013 NFL Draft

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    This year the NFL draft will see a handful of "unlikely lads" make a cameo.

    A number of European-born athletes are hoping to be selected by teams next month.

    There's a range of talent in the lineup, and a good chance that all of them will be drafted.

    Here's a rundown of the guys looking to make a splash across the pond.

Bjoern Werner, DE

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    Bjoern Werner is the most talented European in the pack this year.

    The defensive end from Florida State was born in the German capital, Berlin.

    It was a few years in Connecticut as a foreign exchange student that saw Werner discover his football potential.

    An offer from Florida State followed.

    After two years at FSU, Werner compiled 20 sacks, 29 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and 13 pass breakups.

    With his stock at an all-time high, he has decided to declare for the NFL draft.

    As the top DE in this year's pile Werner could even crack the top 10. 

    A first-round selection could see Werner become the International face of the NFL.

     


Menelik Watson, RT

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    Menelik Watson is the top English prospect in the draft and comes from Manchester.

    The story of how Watson went from the U.K. to starting FSU right tackle is pretty amazing.

    His road to the NFL has certainly been a tough one:

    Growing up in Manchester, his family were so poor he often resorted to eating butter and drinking sachets of ketchup as his mother struggled to feed him and his six brothers and sisters.

    When three of his brothers were sent to prison in 2006, the Burnage High School pupil decided it was time to move and he ended up at a basketball school in the Canary Islands after being discovered by its owner Rob Orellana. - via The Sun

    Watson's basketball career fell flat and after an ill-fated foray into boxing he switched to football at the age of 23. Six big games at Saddleback Community College later and FSU came knocking.

    He's only played 20 games since taking up football and could be a first-round pick. Last year, he allowed only one sack playing at right tackle. 

    He has a great attitude, surprising athleticism and basketball feet. But most importantly, he's coachable.

Margus Hunt, DE

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    Margus Hunt will be flying the flag for Estonia this NFL draft.

    From a small town called Karksi-Nuia, Hunt's sporting background revolves around a different kind of field sportdiscus and shot put. Hunt is a former world junior record holder in discus throw.

    Spotted by football coaches while training at SMU with David Wollman, Hunt made the switch after the school dropped its track and field program.

    Like many international fans, Hunt gave himself a crash-course in NFL rules via the Madden video games. On the field he put that study to use. As a senior for SMU he set the NCAA record for blocked field goals with 10. He also finished the year with 11.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

    Hunt is shaping up to be a second-round pick but could even creep into the first if he builds on his impressive NFL combine performance. 

    NFL.com reported that Hunt was seen to be the talk of the combine last week:

    Hunt boasts size -- 6-foot-8 and 277 pounds -- and his bench-press showing (38 reps at 225 pounds) turned heads...He then proceeded to wow scouts by running a 4.60-second (40-yard dash) and posting a 38-inch vertical jump...Hunt is very raw on tape, but his size and upside will likely force him into the bottom of the second round.

Tom Wort, MLB

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    Hailing from Crawley in West Sussex, Tom Wort moved to the U.S. with his family as a teenager.

    The Union jack on his bicep is a reminder that while he may have lost his accent, he hasn't lost his British identity.

    His father had played amateur football in the UK, so when Wort began his high school career in Texas the game wasn't entirely alien to him.

    But no one expected the Crawley-born Wort to become starting MLB for the Oklahoma Sooners.

    Four years on and he's the latest in a string of Sooners to declare for the NFL draft, and he's the second Englishman in this year's lineup.

    Wort saw diminishing playing time at OU due to their changing philosophy under Mike Stoops, and he has chosen to make the leap early.

    He is viewed by some as a "tweener" who could struggle to establish a role for himself in the NFL. He will likely go in the later rounds and will see special teams action.

    Wort is an aggressive and instinctive player who thrives in big games. But his main concern at this point has to be staying healthy. 

    If you look at his time at OU as a whole, Wort has had an impressive career despite the setbacks. In 2012 he finished with 52 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.