Louis Rees-Zammit: NFL scouts to watch ex-Wales rugby star at Pro Day

Ex-Wales rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit faces his biggest chance to impress NFL teams on Wednesday as he continues his quest to break into American Football.

The 23-year-old is part of the 2024 international player pathway (IPP), a 10-week crash course to learn the skills needed to succeed in the NFL.

Scouts from all 32 teams will watch Rees-Zammit demonstrate his skills at University of South Florida’s Pro Day.

Rees-Zammit won 32 Wales caps before announcing the switch in January.

NFL Pro Days work in a similar fashion to the NFL Combine, when those players hoping to be drafted by one of the franchises are put through a set of drills.

The drills – including bench press, vertical jump and timed 40-yard sprint – are designed to test an individual’s athleticism, strength and ball skills.

A strong showing will increase Rees-Zammit’s chances of being picked for a team’s summer training squad.

Rees-Zammit is one of 16 athletes to take part in the 2024 IPP in Florida.

Englishmen George Smith, Travis Clayton and ex-Northampton Saints centre Harry Mallinder, Gaelic football goalkeepers Rory Beggan, Charlie Smyth and Mark Jackson, as well as Scottish sprinter Praise Olatoke are also included.

Since it was first established in 2017, 37 players have signed with NFL teams, the most successful including the Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata and the Washington Commanders defensive end Efe Obada.

Best chance this year

The chances of at least making a training squad are greater than usual this year.

For the first time, all 32 NFL franchises will be given an additional place in their practice squads specifically for those who have come through the IPP.

NFL franchises will be able to add IPP players to their practice-squad rosters at the end of the 10-week course, which is set to finish at the end of March.

Teams who have an IPP player on the practice squad will also be allowed to promote the player to the final active 53-man squad without taking up a space, up to three times during the season.

These rule changes have come at the best possible time for Rees-Zammit and the rest of the 2024 IPP group, as NFL franchises have little risk attached to taking a gamble on these players.

Wednesday’s Pro Day will be the best opportunity Rees-Zammit has to convince NFL scouts he has what it takes to make it in the sport.

The former Wales wing has previously said he is targeting a hybrid role in the NFL, combining the running back and wide receiver positions.

His speed and agility could also tempt teams into utilising him as a kick and punt returner on special teams, something he has said he “would love” to do.

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