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Little known 6’7 English rugby player picked in NFL draft



While the eighth tier of domestic rugby in England would not usually be a hotbed for potential NFL talent, Travis Clayton has shown that anything is possible.

The 23-year-old has been selected by the Buffalo Bills in the final round of the NFL Draft.

A former winger who played for Basingstoke in the Counties 2 Hampshire division, Clayton was the 221st overall pick in the seventh round of the draft in Detroit.

Clayton was part of the International Player Pathway (IPP) programme and along with former Wales and British and Irish Lions winger Louis Rees-Zammit, is putting rugby in the spotlight as a source of talent for the NFL.

Rees-Zammit is now with Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.

“With rugby also being a team sport, I believe that helps tremendously,” Clayton said.

“More importantly, playing the wing in rugby helps with the physicality side and with agility.”

Despite having never played american football competitively, Clayton has been described as extremely agile and with his natural power at 6ft 7inches, is expected to play as an offensive lineman.

“All the players and coaches would say he’s a gentle giant,” said Basingstoke coach Richard Cheetham, who called his transition “extraordinary” when speaking to BBC South News.

“He doesn’t have that ferocity in his personality off the pitch, but on it he has all those attributes.”

He reportedly hasn’t played rugby since March 2023 and has been solely focussed on making it in the NFL.

His 40-yard dash was clocked at 4.79 seconds during the NFL Combine, which according to the Bills was the fastest they had recorded from an offensive lineman in the past 10 years.

“I just want to shout out all the UK fans for sticking by me and supporting me,” he said in a short video after the draft.

“Look, I made it to the NFL and now it’s time to represent and show the rest of the world exactly why UK athletes should play in the NFL.”

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