The Seahawks didn't draft a linebacker over the weekend, but they did add depth at that position this week via the NFL's International Player Pathway Program, with Aaron Donkor being allocated to Seattle. Donkor was one of four International Player Pathway Program players allocated to NFC West teams for 2021.
Donkor, who is from Goettingen, Germany, had a basketball background before taking up football in recent years, playing for the German Football League's Dusseldorf Panthers in 2016. Donkor then played at the New Mexico Military institute for two seasons, recording 32 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 12 games. Then in 2019 he played one season at Arkansas State, recording 25 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in six games.
"You're our newest linebacker, man, how 'bout that?" Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told Donkor Monday on a video call to tell him the news. "We're fired up to add you to our team… We're expecting you to play linebacker, we're going to feature you on special teams; we want you to be a big factor there too. The more you can do is obviously the old NFL way, so let's make sure you take advantage of that. Welcome to the Seahawks."
Also added to NFL rosters via the International Player Pathway Program were offensive lineman Alfredo Gutierrez (Mexico), who joins the 49ers; offensive lineman Max Pircher (Italy), who joins the Rams; and tight end Bernhard Seikovits (Austria), who joins the Cardinals. The NFC West was chosen to receive the four International Pathway Players by random draw, and is the fifth division to participate in the program.
The NFL International Player Pathway Program, which began in 2017, aims to provide elite international athletes opportunities to compete at the NFL Level. At the conclusion of training camp International Pathway players are eligible for an international player practice squad exemption which provides the team an additional practice squad spot. This year
The Seahawks have had a couple of other German players in camp in past years, with defensive end Christian Mohr and tackle Samuel Gutekunst both joining Seattle after spending time in NFL Europe before that league was eventually shut down.
Recent International Player Pathway Program success stories include Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson (Germany), who has appeared in 20 games over the past two seasons, including 11 starts last season; Eagles tackle Jordan Mailtala (Australia), who played in 15 games last season, starting 10; and Bills defensive end Efe Obada (UK), who spent the past three seasons with the Panthers, and who last year recorded 5.5 sacks while playing all 16 games.