Canadian draftees

Canadian draftees

Danny Watkins and Orlando Franklin made history at the 2011 NFL Draft.

The two Canadians heard their names called in the 2011 NFL draft, a feat (two Canadians being selected) that has happened only five times before (2009, 2005, 2003, 1992 and 1986). Yet no Canadians have ever been selected as high in the same draft as Watkins (23rd overall) and Franklin (46th overall).

The previous high was in the 1986 draft when Mike Schad was selected in the first round by the Los Angeles Rams, and Saskatchewan’s Reuben Mayes was selected in the third round by the New Orleans Saints (see complete list below).

Kelowna’s Watkins (OL) was selected 23rd overall by the Eagles, and Jamaican-born Orlando Franklin (who lived in Toronto as a youth) was selected 46th overall by the Broncos.

Both Watkins and Franklin are expected to step into starting roles with their new NFL clubs.

Franklin stands six-foot-seven and weighs 310 pounds was born in Jamaica, but grew up in Toronto before moving to Florida to enhance his opportunity to secure a football scholarship. After his mother quit her job and moved the family Delray Beach, Fla., Franklin landed at Miami, where he played at guard his first three years there before switching to tackle as a senior. An interview with Orlando Franklin – the latest Canadian to be selected in the NFL Draft.

On how he fits with the Broncos:

“I spoke with Coach (John Fox) and he asked me about playing right tackle and I think I am just going to come in and listen to everything they have to say and absorb as much as I can and help out the team as much as possible.”

On his strengths

“I am a physical player and I am going to play hard for 60 minutes.”

On whether he considers himself a mean player

“Yeah, you could say that I guess. Some people accuse me of being a dirty player, but I just like to get after it.”

On the prospects of blocking for QB Tim Tebow

“I’m happy, I am happy to be here. He went to Florida and I went to (University of Miami). I remember playing him a couple of years ago. He is a great player and I’m excited to be blocking for him.”

On whether he expected to be drafted by Denver

“I spoke with the offensive line coach for Denver and he was supposed to come see me, but something happened where he never came to see me, so I never thought I would be ending up here. But, he did tell me that he was interested in me and he called me yesterday. I was like a kid in a candy shop – I was the happiest person in the world.”

On playing right tackle

“I played some right tackle also at the University of Miami. I took snaps at pretty much every position, so I am just going to come in here and try to do everything that I can to be the best right tackle possible.”

On whether he prefers to play tackle or guard

“Definitely mix it up. It makes football a lot more exciting.”

On being a Jamaican-born Canadian player in the NFL

“I think I might be the only one (laughing).”

On when he started playing football

“I think I started playing at the age of eight. I knew a lot of kids in my building that used to come around, walking around with their equipment. I never knew what it really was, and one day they just brought me and I fell in love with football.”

On what positions he played when he was younger

“When I was younger, I was a little bit faster than I am now, so I was actually in that backfield for a little bit. I played a little bit of defensive line when I was in high school.”

On his ideal playing weight

“I think I can play anywhere from 312 (pounds) to 328, anywhere in between there. I like to be as light as possible. It just helps your body out with injuries and stuff.”

On whether he will reach out to any of his new teammates

“I’m really close with (DE) Elvis Dumervil, and I talk to (LB) D.J. Williams a lot, so I’m going to definitely be talking to them to learn as much about Denver as possible.”

On being a hockey fan

“I love hockey. I like Toronto (Maple Leafs); I’ve got to go for the home team. “

A complete list of Canadians who have been selected in the NFL Draft:

Danny Watkins – 1st round Eagles 2011

Orlando Franklin – 2nd round Broncos 2011

Vaughn Martin – 4th round Chargers 2009

Austin Collie (born in Hamilton) – 4th round 2009 Draft – Colts

Nick Kaczur – 3rd round 2005, Patriots

OJ Atogwe – 3rd round Rams 2005

Teyo Johnson (born in White Rock BC) – 2nd round 2003 Raiders (now plays in UFL)

Nate Burleson (born in Calgary) – 3rd round 2003 – Vikings

Jesse Palmer 4 round Giants 2001

Jerome Pathon – 2nd round – 1998 Colts

OJ Santiago – -3rd round 1997 draft Falcons

Tim Biakabutuka – 1st Round 1996 Panthers

Tom Nutten – 1992 7th round Rams

Tyrone Williams – 1992 – 9th round — Phoenix

Tony Mandarich – 1989 – 1st round – Green Bay

Mike Schad – 1st round 1986 Rams

Rueben Mayes — 3rd round 1986 Saints

Chris Schultz – 7th round 1983 Cowboys