The Jacksonville Jaguars are stacked at cornerback and the unit grew only bigger with the addition of Ayo Oyelola via the NFL International Player Pathway program.
Ever since the program was instituted in 2017, the league randomly chooses a division and assigns one player to each of their clubs. This year, it was the AFC South’s turn. The process starts with an international Scouting Combine held in Mexico and the United Kingdom. Then, 12 players are selected to continue further training and development alongside NFL players and draft prospects in the US at the OLP performance academy, which is run by former Pro Bowl offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley.
Players that are part of the process then have the chance to participate at a Pro Day and can then be signed by NFL teams. This year Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka and Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi were signed by the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals respectively. Here are the players that we assigned to the AFC South.
Player Position Country Team
Marcel Dabo DB Germany Indianapolis Colts
Adedayo Odeleye DL UK Houston Texans
Thomas Odukoya TE Neatherlands Tennessee Titans
Ayo Oyelola CB UK Jacksonville Jaguars
Odeyele also partook in the program last year but wasn’t allocated to a club, he then signed with Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, where he went on to appear in one game. Here’s a clip of the Essex native from last year.
Ayo Oyelola faces an uphill battle to make the Jaguars roster in 2022.
Something noteworthy about Oyelola is that he was originally played linebacker but is now listed as a cornerback. Switching positions might give him a better chance to make an impact in this year’s training camp. At 5’11” and 215 pounds, he’s better suited to cover wide receivers than roaming in the middle of the field.
Now, the Jaguars just selected two cornerbacks in the seven-round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Montaric Brown and Gregory Junior and both of them will have a hard time making the 53-man roster. They have a pretty good group, so Oyelola’s chances of making the team are slim. Then again, he could easily land on their practice squad, as clubs are eligible for an international player practice squad exemption, meaning that Jacksonville would have an extra spot in their practice squad if they keep him. There, Oyelola would have the chance to continue working on his craft.
The best player to come out of the NFL International program is left tackle Jordan Mailata, who was selected in the seventh round of the 2018 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles and signed a four-year contract last year. Defensive end Efe Obada has also enjoyed success as a member of the Buffalo Bills after joining the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad in 2017.
Oyelola has a steep hill to climb if he wants to remain in Jacksonville. However, he’s already come this far so it wouldn’t be a good idea to count him out just yet.