Veteran Broadcaster Richard Graves on Louis Rees-Zammit's NFL Future

The rugby world was shocked when Wales superstar Louis Rees-Zammit announced he was trying out for the NFL, but does he have a chance? We as veteran UK broadcaster Richard Graves for his thoughts.

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwain

Last Updated: 2024-01-24

Umaima Saeed

Louis Rees-Zammit recently sent shockwaves through British sports by announcing he is leaving rugby to pursue an NFL career. The young Welsh winger, with 32 Wales caps under his belt, has never played American football. In an exclusive with SportsBoom, Wade McElwain chats with Veteran UK broadcaster Richard Graves on Rees-Zammit's chances of making it in the NFL.
 Richard has over 25 years of experience in covering the NFL in the UK, and will be attending his ninth Super Bowl this February as a journalist. 

On Rees-Zammit's Bold Move

Graves understands why Rees-Zammit is taking the risk, saying "It's better to find out than always live your life wondering." But he cautions that the transition will not be easy, with rugby stand-out Christian Wade lasting only one preseason during his 2019 debut via the IPP, stating:
"There’s a lot of work to do between now and getting onto that field. It's arguably more about how quickly he can make the transition to what's required off the field."

On Learning the Game

The NFL is more of a chess game than rugby, and brings with it massive playbooks, and regular team meetings. Graves notes that Rees-Zammit must quickly pick up the complex playbook and assignments required of NFL players. He believes Rees-Zammit's rugby background provides a strong foundation, but warns: 
"He’s never played American football to any real level and he’s going to be competing against young talent that has grown up in America."
Ultimately, it will be up to how determined Louis is able to grasp a game that many American kids have been playing since they were toddlers. Rugby and the NFL have so many different facets, that he will have to upgrade into his play, as Graves paints a bigger picture: 
“Because it's not just about playing with the ball in hand, it's all the other assignments, the blocking assignments, the route running that goes into being successful on the football field. It's arguably more about how quickly can he make the transition to what's required off the field as opposed to what happens when he gets on the field."

Leveraging Rugby Skills

Graves says Rees-Zammit's talents in rugby should crossover well to football:
"He is lightning quick, he’s got great hands. He’s an elusive open field runner. Those are all attributes that translate very well into being a good NFL player."
There is no doubting that Rees-Zammit is a young athletic phenom, and that at the very least, NFL teams should be willing to take on a solid IPP prospect:  “I find it inconceivable that there won't be a scout from an NFL team that at the very least we'll look at his raw talent and believe that they can do something with it and mold him into somebody that can be an asset on their roster.”

Age and Inexperience Are Challenges

Many college players enter at the top of their NFL game at the age of 20, so at 22, Rees-Zammit is a bit of an uncle in the game. However, Graves points out that Rees-Zammit's lack of football experience and age could hinder him, explaining:
"Most NFL rookies have played football since childhood. And many come into the league around age 22 after college careers."

Louis Rees-Zammit

Raw Talent Will Intrigue NFL Teams

But Graves thinks Rees-Zammit's athletic gifts are too great for NFL teams to ignore. He thinks that Louis Rees-Zammit is only a training camp away from reaching his potential. 
“I mean he's what around 13 stones, six foot three at the moment. So he is definitely going to need to put on a bit more muscle, a bit more bulk. He's got the stature to certainly make his way in the NFL."

NFLUK Providing Support

Graves notes that the NFLUK's International Player Pathway program will aid Rees-Zammit's transition to American football. Numerous high profile players like Christian Wade, Adedayo Odeleye, and a slew of new Nigerian stand-outs have made this program a success. 
Graves lauds the program: 
"This initiative helps athletes from outside the US learn football and potentially earn a spot on an NFL team. The program will give him an intensive crash course on the sport before the draft."

Praise for Chasing the Dream

While cautious on his chances, Graves praises Rees-Zammit for chasing his ambitions, stating:
"All credit is his for following his dream and it’s better to find out than always live your life wondering. I for one, would love to see him be a success because anytime you're willing to take a punt on yourself and back yourself, I think you deserve a break.”

Richard Graves.jpg

Wade McElwain
Wade McElwainSenior Sports Writer

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.