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Seahawks receive German linebacker Aaron Donkor through International Player Pathway Program

NCAA Football: Arkansas State at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

According to Ty Dane Gonzalez of Seahawks Maven, the Seahawks have been assigned linebacker Aaron Donkor from Germany via the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, or IPPP. This has been confirmed by the team in the conference call between Donkor and the coaches below.

The IPPP dates back to 2017 as an outgrowth of the previous international program — NFL Undiscovered — with the purpose of creating an entry point for athletes from outside the U.S to join the league. Each season since, a division is selected to participate in the program, and each team receives a random assignment of one player. The NFC West is the recipient division this season, and the Seahawks might have lucked out, as Donkor may be the most exciting prospect in this year’s class of international players.

Aaron Donkor is coming to Seattle from Germany, where he began his career playing for the GFL’s Dusseldorf Panthers in 2016. The following year, he came stateside to play JuCo football with the New Mexico Military Institute, where he put on a show; over two seasons, he played in twelve games and recorded 32 tackles, 12.5 sacks, and 4.5 TFLs. He forced a fumble and recovered two others. His play got him some recognition, and he transferred to Arkansas State in 2019, where he collected 25 tackles while playing in the Sun Belt conference for the Red Wolves. At the NFL International Combine, he ran a 4.46 forty and posted a 39-inch vertical, which bodes well for his future with the team; the Seahawks love fast, explosive linebackers, and Donkor definitely fits the bill.

With regards to the IPPP, participating teams are allowed one extra spot on the roster leading up to cuts, making for a total of 91 players. If the team elects to keep the player on the practice squad, as has typically been the case previously, they have two options; the organization may choose to exercise a “practice squad exemption,” whereby they can keep the international player as an 11th member of the 10-man practice squad, although this means the player may not be activated or signed at any point during the season. Alternatively, teams can choose to cut the player, meaning they will go through waivers and can be signed to the practice squad, at which point they revert to the same rules as anyone else in this scenario (they can be activated, signed, etc.). In the latter case, the team is only allowed the typical 10 practice squad spaces.

So far, only two players who have come to the NFL through the IPPP have made significant headway on their team’s active roster: Jakob Johnson, fullback for the Patriots, and Efe Obada, defensive end formerly of the Panthers. Johnson scored his first NFL touchdown last season on a one-yard reception against the Seahawks, and Obada put up 5.5 sacks in Charlotte last season. The former was re-signed by the Pats this offseason, and latter signed with the Buffalo Bills. In addition to the players assigned to divisions, two teams have drafted individuals who were part of the IPPP program. The first was receiver Moritz Bohringer, who went to the Minnesota Vikings in 2016, with the second being Offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, who found his way to the Philadelphia Eagles. Both players were selected in the 6th round. Drafted players are not counted as assigned players, and my understanding is that they follow the same roster regulations as any other draftee.

With regards to Donkor, while he may be a longshot to make the active roster, he is joining a team in need of linebacker help, with KJ Wright remaining unsigned and no heir apparent on the Seattle roster. He certainly has the capabilities to play in the pros and will be an interesting player to keep an eye on during camp and the preseason. Per, the Seahawks’ divisional rivals were assigned Offensive linemen Alfredo Gutierres from Mexico (49ers) and Max Pricher from Italy (Rams), along with Austrian Tight end Bernhard Seikovits (Cardinals). Get to know Aaron Donkor and watch some of his highlights in the video below.