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Markus Kuhn, a Germany native, gives draft international flavor

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  • By Mike Preston Special to NFL.com
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An unprecedented three players who first played football outside the borders of the United States could find their names called and a professional football career path open to them during the 2012 NFL Draft.

North Carolina State defensive end Markus Kuhn -- who is from Weinheim, Germany -- could become just the third European-trained player drafted by an NFL team, following in the footsteps of offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer -- also from Germany -- and defensive tackle Romeo Bandison from the Netherlands.

Bandison started his venture onto the gridiron with the Amsterdam Crusaders in the Netherlands, where he played from the age of 15 to 19. After a college career at Oregon, the native of the Dutch capital The Hague was a third-round (75th overall) pick of the Washington Redskins in 1994.

Vollmer first played football with his hometown club, Dusseldorf Panther in Germany, and after developing his talent at the University of Houston, was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft (58th overall) by the New England Patriots.

Like his European-trained predecessors, Kuhn was introduced to the game by a club team playing in Germany, one of 62 countries governed by the International Federation of American Football. He began playing in his native Germany with the Weinheim Longhorns before heading to the United States in search of a college scholarship. In his senior year, he finished the 2011 college football season as a starter at North Carolina State with 45 tackles, including 9.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks.

Defensive end Jack Crawford could also give the NFL draft a European flavor, though the London-born Penn State product did not play football until his junior year of high school at St. Augustine Prep in New Jersey.

The past 30 NFL drafts have featured 18 Canadians selected by NFL teams and two more stars from north of the border could join that list in 2012.

Baylor offensive lineman Philip Blake, who was raised in Toronto, did not play the sport until his senior year at Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary School. He played at Champlain Regional College and Tyler Junior College and for Baylor became a three-year starter and protected Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.

At the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock gave Blake the kind of review he will hope was written down verbatim in the notebooks of NFL team scouts.

"I had a third or fourth round grade on him, and I believe that he's a starting centre in this league," Mayock said. "I like the big Canuck. From a value perspective, Philip Blake, you're my man."

Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford hails from Windsor, Ontario, and appeared in 13 games for the Broncos in 2011. Crawford registered 32 tackles on the season (13 solo), including 13.5 tackles-for-loss -- tied for most on the team -- and 7.0 sacks, the second most on the Broncos.

Mike Preston is the director of public relations for the International Federation of American Football.

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