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Three prospects to watch at International Player Pathway program workout



Among the 15 athletes working out Wednesday, three players have caught my attention as immediate NFL developmental prospects. Several others will also have a chance as they continue to progress, but here’s what I’ve gathered from my time spent with the top three at the IMG Academy.

Bayron Matos, OL: The 23-year-old from the Dominican Republic is a mountain of a man, checking in at 6-foot-8, 290 pounds. Matos moved to the United States at 16 years old to play basketball at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The forward went on to play Division I basketball at New Mexico and University of South Florida. Matos walked onto the USF football team in 2022, but he didn’t play during the regular season.

At IMG Academy, Matos has picked up specific offensive line movement skills quicker than most and is making remarkable strides. He is smooth, with good foot/hand coordination, and possesses rare punch explosion. As a lifelong evaluator, you just know rare punch/explosion when you hear it and see it. You can hear his punch from the other side of the field. One of the toughest aspects of playing along the offensive line in the NFL is understanding and processing plays, checks and audibles at the line of scrimmage. Matos — whose first language is not English — is very perceptive and has shown he can do this exceptionally well. I would not at all be surprised to hear his name called on Day 3 of the 2024 NFL Draft next month.

Louis Rees-Zammit, RB/WR: Rees-Zammit’s story is incredibly unique. The world-class rugby player (winger) has represented Wales since 2020, playing in both the Six Nations and 2023 Rugby World Cup. In 2021, he was on the British & Irish Lions squad for the tour of South Africa. Rees-Zammit walked away from a six-figure contract to pursue his NFL dream through the IPP program. He grew up watching the NFL with his father, Joe, who played for the Welsh American football team in the 1980s. I have spent a lot of time getting to know Rees-Zammit, 23, who is very sharp, focused and passionate.

On the field, he possesses rare acceleration — evident in his rugby film and in workouts — and is working hard on developing skills that are new to him, including route running and pad level as a ball-carrier, among other things.

Pat Murtagh, TE: This is the 24-year-old’s second stint in the IPP program. Last year, Murtagh was assigned to the Detroit Lions following IPP camp, but an undisclosed medical issue ended his time in the Motor City. Murtagh, a former Australian rules football player and member of the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns, has spent the past year training and preparing for this second opportunity. Murtagh has an excellent frame, soft hands and exceptional catch ability. Aussie rules football emphasizes catching skills, including high-pointing the ball. He also possesses great leadership skills, having really piloted the program this year.

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