Bernhard Raimann is a monstrous offensive line prospect in this year's NFL Draft, coming to the game from Austria as the latest in a growing line of international players. Raimann said from the Scouting Combine that he looked to a couple Patriots for inspiration on his journey to the NFL.
"Sebastian Vollmer was always a huge role model for me and for guys growing up in Austria in general," said Raimann on Thursday during his media availability. "I had the chance to meet him a couple weeks ago, that was huge for me.
"Also fullback Jakob Johnson, those couple of guys from Germany, they were always huge for me."
Aside from their international roots, it's hard not to see physical comparisons between Vollmer and Raimann as well, both have exceptional size for the tackle position, with Vollmer coming in at 6-8 while Raimann is listed at 6-7. Vollmer was a 2009 second-round pick and went on to play seven seasons with the Patriots, winning a Super Bowl and providing reliable, athletic protection from either side of the line.
Those similarities helped Raimann with his own development, as Vollmer provided a model both on and off the field.
"[Vollmer's] story itself but then also the way he pass sets, and how athletic he was even with his size, is something I try to incorporate into my game as well," said Raimann.
It was actually the movie The Blind Side that first introduced the Austrian to the game of American Football and though he didn't start out at the same position as Michael Oher, he eventually ended up there.
"That was one of the first movies I remembered that was about football," said Raimann. "I just thought high school football looked cool. Friday nights looked awesome. I wanted to become an exchange student after that.
"I started when I was 14 years old with the Vienna Vikings, a club team in Vienna, Austria. Started playing football there, played wide receiver, since I played soccer growing up. It was fun. Obviously I didn't know anything. but the coaches took me on and taught me a lot of the basics and I learned from there."
With starting right tackle Trent Brown scheduled to be a free agent this spring and Isaiah Wynn entering the final year of his rookie deal, tackle is definitely a need for the Patriots in the short and long term. With Raimann projected to go somewhere in the first two rounds of the draft, perhaps even as soon as the Patriots 21st overall selection, it wouldn't be surprising to see him continue along the path blazed by Vollmer and Johnson right onto the field of Gillette Stadium.