Drafters Look North

Drafters Look North

Twenty two Canadians have been selected in modern NFL drafts. Three Canadian university players hope to add their names to the list later this month.

A record four players from Canada were selected in the 2012 NFL Draft.

That number will almost certainly shrink at this year’s draft (April 25-27), yet three Canadian University standouts still hope to hear their name called.

A strong performance at the NFL’s Super Regional Combine in Texas by Stefan Charles – a  six-foot-five, 324-pound defensive lineman with the CIS University of Regina Rams – led to ongoing meetings with several NFL teams. Several draft analysts, including TSN’s Farhan Lalji, predict that Charles will be drafted.

McMaster’s Ben D’Aguilar, a six-foot-two 240 pound defensive end who registered a Canadian university-record 12.5 sacks last year – also participated in the Super Regional Combine.

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks points out that while the Super Regional Combine “a showcase event for the underrated and overlooked prospects,” many do use it to secure NFL jobs. Of the 2,000-plus prospects who attended regional and super regional combines last year, 87 signed contracts with NFL teams and 28 earned spots on opening-day rosters.

Matt Sewell, a six-foot-eight, 340-pound offensive tackle, was a teammate of D’Aguilar’s at McMaster. The two-time All-Canadian from Milton, Ontario, has also shown up in some draft rankings.

LaSalle Ontario’s Luke Willson, is a two-sport star who played both baseball and football for the past four years at Rice University in Texas, is another Canadian eligible for the draft. Willson is currently the 18th ranked tight end in CBSSports.com’s draft rankings. The six-foot-four 250-pound Willson was drafted by the Major League Baseball Toronto Blue Jays in 2011.

Last April Windsor’s Tyrone Crawford, a six-foot-four, 275-pound defensive lineman at Boise State, was the first Canadian selected, going 81st overall to the Dallas Cowboys.

The next player with Canadian roots selected was Akiem Hicks, an American who had transferred to the CIS Regina Rams early in his collegiate career. Hicks, who was a teammate of Stefan Charles, was also selected in the third round. The six-foot-five, 318-pound Hicks, went 89th overall to the New Orleans Saints. Hicks became the first Canadian university player selected in the NFL draft since defensive lineman Vaughn Martin of the Western Mustangs went in the fourth round to the San Diego Chargers in 2009.

Toronto’s Philip Blake, a six-foot-two, 311-pound centre for the Baylor Bears, was selected in the fourth round, 108th overall, by the Denver Broncos.  Blake will join fellow Torontonian Orlando Franklin on the Broncos offensive line. In 2011, the Broncos selected Franklin, a native of Jamaica who grew up in Toronto, in the second round out of the University of Miami. The six-foot-six, 330-pound Franklin started all 16 games last season at tackle.

Ottawa’s Christo Bilukidi, a defensive lineman at Georgia State, was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, 189th overall, by the Oakland Raiders. Bilukidi was a two-year starter at Georgia State and played primarily at defensive tackle. He had a school-record 10 career sacks and 16 tackles for loss and was named one of the team’s permanent captains for the 2011 season.

The total  number of Canadians selected in the modern NFL draft is 22. Two Canadians were selected in each of the 2011, 2009, 2005, 2003, 1992 and 1986 drafts.

Complete list of Canadians in the NFL Draft (all-time):

Tyrone Crawford – 3rd round Cowboys 2012

Akiem Hicks – 3rd round Saints 2012

Philip Blake – 4th round Broncos 2012

Christo Bilukidi – 6th round Raiders 2012

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 – 4th round Giants 2001

Jerome Pathon – 2nd round – 1998 Colts

OJ Santiago – -3rd round 1997 draft Falcons

A complete list of 2013 NFL Draft eligible Canadians is available at Great Blue North Draft Report  http://www.gbnreport.com/canuckreport.htm