From April 27th through April 29th, there will be 259 names called at the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City, Missouri. Lives will forever be changed for many young men, NFL teams will improve, and there is a record ready to be broken. That record being the amount of Canadians drafted in a single NFL Draft. The record right now sits at 4 Canadians, and has been done twice, in 2014 and 2021.
The Canadians you may see get drafted this year, breaking that record would include running back Chase Brown, receiver Jared Wayne, offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron and Sidy Sow, defensive linemen Lwal Uguak and Tavius Robinson as well as defensive backs Sydney Brown and Jonathan Sutherland.
Of the 8 players, 5 took part in the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine, and four of them played in the highly scouted Reese’s Senior Bowl. Those that played in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Chase and Sydney Brown, Tavius Robinson and Matthew Bergeron, spoke with JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic about the draft process as well as their individual journeys to the NFL.
The Brown twins, from London, Ontario, Canada are coming off of great careers at Illinois where running back Chase Brown ran for 3,206 yards and 18 touchdowns with the Fighting Illini and defensive back Sydney Brown made 319 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 26 pass breakups, 10 interceptions, 2 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and one fumble recovery over their time together in Illinois. Whether they were on offence or defence, Illinois could count on one of the Brown brothers to make a play, and that is set to continue on the professional stage.
They played on the same team at the Reese’s Senior Bowl where Chase Brown was named a practice player of the week, and they both put on good performances. Talking about being there together, Chase Brown told Zlomislic, “it’s a blessing. It’s been a journey. You think back at high school, or even earlier when I was watching guys go through this process, it is pretty surreal to be here together, competing at such a high level.” That journey that Chase is referring to was a long one, and it is where they came from that has kept them grounded throughout this NFL Draft process. Sydney Brown talked about his and Chase’s background, “we grew up in Canada for our first 16 years. Had a great family and support system, raised by a single mother who had us young at 18, had my grandma as my rock and my uncle and grandfather as our father figures going up, so it was good. We didn’t have much, but we were fortunate to have what we had. When we were 16, our mom had some issues after having our little sister which led to illnesses where she was unable to work. The situation left us homeless at one point, where we spent time in the shelter and with some decisions to make for our futures, whether we’d stay in Canada and work a trade, or cross the border and chase our dreams in football.”
The rest is history for the Brown brothers’ stories. They completed high school in Florida, and then dominated the college football landscape, on their ways to having successful NFL careers.
Also on their way to having a successful career in the NFL, and ready to hear his name called in late April is defensive end Tavius Robinson.
Tavius Robinson took a unique route to get to where he is today, preparing for his call from an NFL team. He actually kicked off his university career at home with the University of Guelph. The 6-foot-6 edge rusher put up great numbers with the Gryphons, having made 13.5 sacks in his two seasons with the school prior to getting a lot of buzz from schools down south, including the University of Mississippi where, in three seasons, has had plenty of success. In 34 games with the Rebels, Robinson made 90 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, forced 5 fumbles and recovered 2 fumbles. As a senior, he had two in-conference games with two sacks made, one against Auburn, and the other against Mississippi State, really putting him on the radar of many teams in the NFL.
While that route to the NFL, having gone to university in two countries, and having to prove himself on every level he’s been on, may sound difficult, and a long route, it has ultimately made Robinson who he is today. “It’s been a real blessing to be on this journey.” Robinson told JZ Media, “having the opportunity to transfer from Guelph was great. I had a good time there, and it prepared me pretty well for division one football. I’m hoping to continue to help pave the way for more Canadians to go a similar route.”
A fairly similar route was actually taken by Matthew Bergeron who also took part in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and NFL Combine like Robinson. The difference between Bergeron and Robinson’s routes, was Bergeron went through CEGEP instead of University.
Coming from Quebec, Victoriaville to be exact, once Matthew Bergeron graduated high school, he went on to CEGEP at CEGEP de Thetford, which for those that don’t know, is like a mix between the Junior college and prep school level of football south of the border. Bergeron played to the best of his ability in CEGEP, not only getting him named the 2nd best recruit from Canada in his class, but he was also ranked across the border by 247, Rivals and ESPN, leading him to an excellent career with the Syracuse Orangemen. With the Orangemen, he started in 39 games and just completed an outstanding senior season, capping it off with great performances at the Senior Bowl and Combine.
His success recently, whether it be throughout his senior year with Syracuse or the stages of his pre-draft process, has been because of the constant effort he is giving.
“I have been giving everything I do 100%. I know how important everything I am doing is right now.” Bergeron said in his interview with JZ Media, “I know how much I’ve done, and how much it took to get to this point, so I can’t take my foot off the gas now. I’m not done yet.”
Bergeron is not done yet, and neither are all of the Canadians around him.
With the NFL Draft now approaching, be on the lookout for the group of Canadians set to take their next steps of their football careers.