Christopher Ezeala, a fullback and linebacker in the German Football League, has been assigned to the Ravens as part of the International Player Pathway program.
Ezeala, 22, has been playing for the Ingolstadt Dukes after stints with the Munich Rangers and Allgäu Comets. He’s 5 feet 11 and 243 pounds, and he’s expected to focus on the fullback position.
The Ravens are one of eight teams that will carry an additional overseas player on their practice squad in 2018 with the expansion of the International Player Pathway program.
The program, instituted in 2017, provides international athletes with an opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.
Alex Gray (Atlanta Falcons), Alex Jenkins (New Orleans Saints), Eric Nzeocha (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Efe Obada (Carolina Panthers), participants in 2017, will return to their NFC South teams for the upcoming season.
An additional four teams – the AFC North – will carry an overseas player on their roster until the end of the 2018 training camp. At that time, the players would be eligible for an international player practice squad exemption.
The Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers will each be given an exemption for an 11th practice squad member – ineligible to be activated during the season – with two of the players selected coming from the United Kingdom and two from Germany. The AFC North was chosen to receive the international players in a random draw.
The players include Moritz Böhringer (Bengals), who was originally drafted in the sixth round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2016, former British American Football League player Tigie Sankoh (Browns) and former English professional rugby player Christian Scotland-Williamson (Steelers).
For the past three months, the players have been training alongside NFL players and draft hopefuls in Florida, under the supervision of former NFLUK head of football Aden Durde, who was hired as the Falcons defensive quality control coach after this past season’s program, along with IMG Academy coaches including running back coach Earnest Byner, offensive line coach Paul Dunn, defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson and wide receivers coach Larry Kirksey.