In the 2021 NFL Draft the record, set in 2014 of four Canadians drafted into the NFL was tied. Jevon Holland, Benjamin St Juste, Chuba Hubbard and Joshua Palmer each got drafted over the weekend of April 29th while four Canadians, Amen Ogbongbemiga, Alaric Jackson, Bruno Labelle and Pier-Olivier Lestage signed undrafted free agent contracts making it 8 more Canadians being introduced into the NFL for the 2021-2022 NFL season. With 8 more Canadians going to the NFL we now see 29 total in the league and many more on the come up.
Having seen 7 Canadians get drafted in the last three NFL Drafts in Nkeal Harry, Chase Claypool, Neville Gallimore, Jevon Holland, Benjamin St Juste, Chuba Hubbard and Joshua Palmer it is clear that there is a growth in Canadian talent. There is also a big growth of exposure for Canadian players that we’ve seen over recent years starting with grassroots programs having players go down south to play high school football and then the number of Canadians playing in the NCAA. Soon the number of Canadian athletes being drafted into the NFL will be much larger than four per year and the next few NFL drafts are prime examples of just that. Going into the 2021 College Football season, with the list of Canadians eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft, the record of four players drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft could be doubled.
Brampton, Ontario receiver from the University of Alabama John Metchie is headlining the group of Canadians eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft. In the last two NFL drafts Alabama has four receivers drafted in the first round. The University is well known for producing talent at the position with players like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs each having success in the NFL in recent years and with 55 catches for 916 yards and 6 touchdowns in the 2020 College Football season, with a National Championship ring John Metchie has a very good chance of repeating exactly what the University has done with the previous players named. He caught 8 passes for 81 yards in the National Championship against Ohio State in January and recently was named the 21st best player in the 2022 NFL Draft class by ESPN’s Mel Kiper. He wrote on ESPN.com “Alabama has had a heck of a run on first-round wideouts, and Metchie could be next in line. Last season, he caught 55 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns for one of the best offenses in college football history. He played both outside and in the slot and was tremendous with the ball in his hands, averaging 6.6 yards after the catch per reception. Metchie will get his chance to be Bama’s No. 1 receiver in 2021.” On the list only Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and Arkansas’ Treylon Burks are ahead of him at the wide receiver position.
After John Metchie there aren’t too many Canadian players as decorated as him going into the 2021 College Football season but both Daniel Joseph and Mohamed Diallo each have the chance to be on a defensive line in the 2022 NFL season. Joseph began his collegiate career at Penn State where he made 29 tackles, 5 sacks, one pass breakup and forced and recovered one fumble over 32 games as a Nittany Lion. He then transferred to North Carolina State University and played 10 games with the Wolfpack in the 2020 ACC season. Playing his first year in the ACC Joseph made a name for himself in week one of the season, making 5 tackles and two sacks against Wake Forest which went to his season totals of 37 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and 3 quarterback hits. Right now the 6-foot-3, 265 pound defensive end ranks behind a class of players headlined by Kayvon Thibodeaux at Oregon, USC’s Drake Jackson, George Karlaftis from Purdue, Ohio State’s Zach Harrison and more but after being drafted fourth overall by the B.C Lions in the CFL Draft on May 4th it looks like scouts and coaches at the next level like what he brings to the football field so he might be able to find his way in the middle of the 2022 NFL Draft, like Mohamed Diallo, another Toronto native.
At 6-foot-4, 305 pounds Diallo has played 11 games with the University of Central Michigan over two seasons, playing his best football as of recently in the team’s shortened 5 game schedule in 2020. In the shortened season he made a total 18 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and forced and recovered one fumble. In the 2022 NFL Draft defensive tackles DeMarvin Leal, Perrion Winfrey, Jordan Davis, Haskell Garrett, and Tyler Davis headline the group ahead of Central Michigan’s Mohamed Diallo. Like Joseph, Diallo was drafted in the 2021 CFL Draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and has the chance to be on a defensive line in the NFL come 2022.
Also on the defensive side of the ball, Ottawa linebacker Jesse Luketa has a chance to make it to the NFL from Penn State University. Drafted in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2020 NFL Draft was Nittany Lions’ linebacker Micah Parsons who opted out of the 2020 BIG 10 season where Luketa took over for him and will continue to in the 2021 college football season. As the team’s starting linebacker in 9 games he made 59 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 3 pass deflections and one fumble recovery to go alongside the 31 tackles, one tackle for loss, and four pass breakups made in the previous two seasons in the BIG 10. Going into his senior season, with two more years of eligibility thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic Luketa will be eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft and if he breaks out, with the stage he will be on with Parsons out of the building he’ll have a chance to be drafted. If he plays out his eligibility he will be able to get drafted into the 2023 NFL Draft with a 5th year at University, which depending on his performance in 2021 could be something he does. Right now Alabama’s Christian Harris headlines the linebacker crew for the 2022 NFL Draft and Ottawa native Jesse Luketa will have to have a good 2021 season to be talked about come April next year but does have a good chance to do exactly that as do Canadian defensive backs Alonzo Addae, Patrice Rene and Deane Leonard who found themselves in the 2021 CFL Draft class.
Addae from Pickering, Ontario is at West Virginia where he played the 2020 College Football season after 3 seasons with the University of New Hampshire. At UNH he played in 24 games, had 61 tackles, 10 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles and one recovered. In 2020 he was able to play in 10 games on the Mountaineers defence with Ottawa native and true freshman All-BIG 12 defensive end Akeem Mesidor. Alonzo Addae made 66 tackles, one for a loss and intercepted two passes, broke up 7 and forced one fumble. Going into his second seasonal West Virginia and his fourth as a division one athlete Addae has a chance to make his presence felt yet again and get looks from scouts in the NFL, however at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds he hasn’t been getting too much attention from the NFL for the 2022 NFL Draft as a safety. Jordan Battle, Alabama safety is headlining the 2022 class at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds but behind the dimensions he and the other top safeties in the draft class have very similar numbers as Addae. Battle making exactly 66 tackles in 2020 with two extra games played, making only one interception and 4 pass breakups, therefore with that into consideration Alonzo Addae, if he stays on track for the season in the fall and tests well next spring could be a safety in the NFL come 2022.
Two other Canadians in the defensive backfield making their way to the pros after the 2021 college football season is both Deane Leonard and Patrice Rene. Rene and Leonard got drafted in the 2021 CFL Draft like Addae and have minimum one more year of NCAA eligibility left. Leonard, a 6-foot-2, 195 pound cornerback at the University of Mississippi played his first three seasons at the University of Calgary in the Canada West division of Canadian University athletics where in 23 games he made 47 tackles, one for loss, one sack, 6 interceptions, 19 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles and one blocked kick. He was then able to transition his talents to the division one stage playing in 8 games with the Rebels, making 14 tackles, 4 pass deflections and recovering one fumble. Leonard will be going into his second year as a division one athlete this fall and has the chance to get an NFL opportunity if he breaks out. Just ahead of Deane Leonard in NFL talks for next year’s draft as for Canadians would be Ottawa defensive back Patrice Rene. Rene has spent the past 5 seasons with the University of North Carolina Tarheels where he’s played a total 43 games, missing a lot of time with injury in 2019.
Over the span of the 43 games as a Tarheel Rene made a total 103 tackles, 4 for loss while also forcing four turnovers and breaking up 14 passes. He will be playing for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for the 2021 BIG 10 season and should be featured as a starting corner back at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds with the chance to be drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft. Rutgers has two cornerbacks drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft and have a good track history with the McCourty twins, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan all drafted into the NFL in recent years as well.
It is clear that these are all players to keep eyes on the stat sheets for in the 2021 NCAA season and should hear their names called on NFL Draft weekend however there are a lot more Canadians with the opportunity to be introduced to the NFL in the 2022 NFL Draft that aren’t as flashy as the skill position players. In the 2022 NFL Draft class Canadians Sage Doxtater, Liam Dobson, Patrick Davis, Sidy Sow and Dontae Bull are headlining offensive linemen and each are eligible for the draft. Doxtater, Dobson and Davis were all drafted in the 2021 CFL Draft and have at least one more season of college football left.
Also with at least one more year of football left at the collegiate level would be specialists Jake Julien, Game Siemieniec and Keegan Markgraf, defensive backs Jonathan Sutherland, Sydney Brown and Enock Makonzo, linemen Luiji Vilain, Tavius Robinson, Deshawn Stevens and Olivier Charles-Pierre, receivers Jared Wayne, Samuel Emilus and Nick Mardner, running back Chase Brown and quarterback Mike Beaudry. Keep all eyes on the Canadian talent eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft and expect there to be a continuous growth in northern talent in the NFL in coming years after seeing 8 Canadians entering the NFL in the 2021 draft class.