Add yet another name to the Seahawks' intriguing rookie class, this time through a rather unique avenue.
Beginning in 2017, the NFL introduced a new initiative to help facilitate more non-American and Canadian players with an opportunity to play in its league: the International Player Pathway Program (IPPP). Hopefuls can apply for the program and, if selected, will be designated an assigned team at random.
This year, all four NFC West teams were chosen to take on a player each from this year's class. Through the IPPP, the Seahawks were awarded one of the most exciting players in the program's four years in 26-year old German linebacker Aaron Donkor.
Standing at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, Donkor is an incredible athlete. Initially focused on basketball, the newest Seahawk transitioned to the gridiron at the age of 21 and took to it almost immediately.
Beginning his football journey with the Düsseldorf Panther of the German Football League, Donkor dominated to the tune of 14.0 sacks and 74 combined tackles, with 20 of those coming for a loss. He'd eventually make his way stateside, playing two seasons at the junior college level for New Mexico Military Institute. There, he earned Junior College All-American honors for an unreal 2018 campaign that saw him register 11.5 sacks and 27 tackles in just four games. Yes, four games.
That caught the attention of Division I schools, and Donkor was given the opportunity to play at Arkansas State in 2019. While he didn't record a single sack, he still made plays all over the field, putting up 25 tackles in six games with Pro Football Focus giving him an overall grade of 73.5. Unfortunately for him, that would be his only taste of such high competition, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing him back home.
Donkor is something to behold, running a 4.46 40-yard dash time with a 39-inch vertical and 22 bench press reps at the NFL International Combine. Those eye-catching numbers likely played a key factor in his selection for this year's IPPP.
As part of the program, the NFL is giving teams with one of these players every opportunity it can to keep them rostered. If they're carried throughout the entirety of training camp but will not make the active roster, teams are afforded an international player practice squad exemption - an 11th practice squad slot, essentially - so the player may continue their development. However, if that becomes the case, the player - in this example, Donkor - will be ineligible to be activated for the 2021 season.
While it's certainly a stretch Donkor becomes deeply involved in Seattle's competition at linebacker this summer, the possibility cannot be ruled out. This program has already yielded positive results in its short existence, with players like Bills defensive end Efe Obada and Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson coming via the IPPP.
With veteran K.J. Wright still unsigned, the Seahawks have just five linebackers on their 90-man roster at this time, including the unofficial signing of undrafted free agent Jon Rhattigan. For now, Donkor doesn't have much standing in his way of a roster spot, but that will likely change considerably over the next few months.
Learn more about the IPPP here.