The NFL announced Tuesday it will hold an international scouting combine at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Oct. 12, with the top performers being invited to train in the United States as part of the league's International Player Pathway program.
Nearly 50 athletes from 14 countries received invitations to take part in the showcase.
"We are excited to host the international combine in London next month," NFL chief operating officer of international Damani Leech said. "Through the event, we hope to discover new talent, create more global exposure of the game and provide an opportunity for participants to compete at the highest level."
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network provided a list of the participants:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
The NFL International Combine will take place Oct. 12 at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with select players advancing to train in the U.S. and potentially be allocated to NFL teams for the 2022 season. Another combine will be held later in October in Mexico. <a href="https://t.co/kBQEziQCtR">pic.twitter.com/kBQEziQCtR</a>
The International Combine in Mexico later in October will feature athletes who couldn't go to London because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Players who are invited to take part in the U.S. portion of the program will be allocated to NFL teams ahead of the 2022 season following a cutdown after the training phase.
The International Player Pathway program launched in 2017 with the goal of finding more players from outside the U.S. while also increasing fan engagement around the globe.
Several NFL players have come through the program, including the Buffalo Bills' Efe Obada, New England Patriots' Jakob Johnson and Philadelphia Eagles' Jordan Mailata.
In August, the league altered the IPP rules to allow players to get elevated to the active roster during the regular season. Previously, if a player was added to the practice squad via an IPP exemption, they couldn't be called up for the duration of the campaign.
Meanwhile, the NFL will also resume its international schedule in 2021 with two regular-season games at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium—the New York Jets vs. the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 10 and the Miami Dolphins vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 17. There were no international games last year because of COVID-19.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal in 2019 that demand for games in markets outside the U.S. had surpassed what the league could provide and said an international franchise was possible, though the league still hadn't decided whether it was feasible.
"I have no doubt that the fanbase and the commercial opportunity is there [for a franchise]," Goodell said. "Can we do it competitively? Can we do it where our 32 teams can compete at a competitive level? And that's critical. At the end of the day, our game is our product."
Although the idea of a team in London has been floated for years, there's never been an indication the league has taken any concrete steps toward making it reality.