Exclusive: Former NFL Star Foresees Louis Rees-Zammit’s Impactful Journey to the NFL

Former NFL starlet Shawne Merriman shares insights on Louis Rees-Zammit's NFL transition and the International Player Pathway Programme.

Louis Hobbs
Louis Hobbs

Last Updated: 2024-04-09

Richard Graves

4 minutes read

Former NFL standout and three-time Pro Bowler, Shawne Merriman, is optimistic about the prospects of Louis Rees-Zammit's transition into the National Football League (NFL). Rees-Zammit, a former Wales Rugby Union star, recently made waves by signing with the Kansas City Chiefs, opting to embark on a new chapter in his athletic journey through the International Player Pathway Programme. 

Unveiling Untapped Potential

Merriman, known for his keen insights into the world of football, expressed enthusiasm about the untapped potential present in athletes like Rees-Zammit. "There’s a lot of unseen, unfounded talent out there," Merriman remarked, emphasising the significance of programs like the Player Pathway Programme in providing opportunities for aspiring players from diverse backgrounds.

"The Player Pathway Programme [aims] to bridge the gap and give these guys the opportunity to be seen," Merriman noted in an exclusive interview with's Richard Graves. He envisions a surge in international players eager to test their mettle in the NFL, whether they're established superstars like Rees-Zammit or undiscovered talents poised to leave their mark on professional sports. This initiative not only diversifies the league with varied skill sets but also fosters inclusivity and innovation in the realm of American football.

credit Kansas City Chiefs.jpeg

Image credit: Kansas City Chiefs

Assessing Rees-Zammit’s Attributes

Acknowledging the challenges inherent in transitioning from rugby to American football, Merriman highlighted Rees-Zammit's natural athleticism and raw talent. "All the natural assets you need to be an NFL player are there, we just need to start see him catching the ball" Merriman affirmed, citing Rees-Zammit's speed and athleticism as key attributes that could facilitate his success on the gridiron.

New NFL Rules and Opportunities

Merriman also weighed in on recent changes to NFL rules, particularly the modifications to kick-off rules, which he believes create opportunities for players like Rees-Zammit to shine. "I really like the new rules as it now actually gives the skill players an opportunity to return the ball. When the ball is normally kicked out of bounds, you don’t even get the chance to see a kick-off. So, with that part of the game almost eliminated, it creates real opportunities for those kick-off returners to score some points," Merriman explained. 

With the reduction in touchbacks resulting from out-of-bounds kicks, the role of kick and punt returners becomes increasingly pivotal, presenting Rees-Zammit with a potential avenue to make an impact on the field.

"He’s got the speed, he’s got the athleticism," Merriman affirmed, underscoring Rees-Zammit's suitability for a role as a kick and punt returner. "He doesn’t have to be [Patrick] Mahomes’ primary target to make an impact on the team," Merriman added, emphasising the versatility and potential contributions Rees-Zammit could offer to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Growing International Influence

As Rees-Zammit embarks on his NFL journey, guided by the International Player Pathway Programme, Merriman's insights provide valuable perspective on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. With his blend of athleticism and determination, Rees-Zammit stands poised to carve out a successful career in American football, representing the growing international influence within the NFL.

Louis Hobbs
Louis HobbsLead Journalist

Meet Louis Hobbs, our esteemed authority on all matters sports-related. With a wealth of knowledge and experience, Louis effortlessly emerges as our go-to expert. His particular expertise in the realms of darts and snooker sets him apart and brings a level of insight that goes beyond the ordinary. Louis also holds a deep affection for all things related to US sports, with a special emphasis on basketball and American football, which stand out as his particular favorites. His content may not resonate with you, if you don't consider Lamar Jackson the most skilled player in the NFL.