Seventeen Canadians are on NFL rosters this season.
Stefan Charles was signed by the Buffalo Bills last week. The 6-5, 323-pound defensive end was originally signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted rookie prior to the 2013 season. He was released by Tennessee during final cuts at the start of September.
A University of Regina product, Charles appeared in 20 games in college and ranked fourth on the school’s all-time list with 9.5 career sacks. He posted 74 career tackles in 19.5 for loss. He was ranked the number one in the Canadian Football League Scouting Bureau’s rankings for the 2013 CFL draft. Charles is an Oshawa, Ontario native.
Another free agent signee by the Bills in 2013, former Brampton resident Jamaal Westerman originally signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie in 2009 and recorded 49 tackles and 4.5 sacks. In March, 2012, after a successful collegiate career at Rutgers, the 6-3, 255-pound linebacker/defensive end signed as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins.
As a senior in 2002, Brandon, Manitoba’s Israel Idonije led the University of Manitoba Bisons with career-high 9 sacks and 31 tackles en route to team MVP honors. The 6-6, 275-pound defensive tackle was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cleveland Browns in 2003. After several years with the Chicago Bears Idonije signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Lions prior to the 2013 season.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Quebecer J.P. Darche, Montreal native L. P. Ladouceur has enjoyed a career as an NFL long snapper since signing with the Cowboys in 2005. The 6-5, 265-pound snapper has played in every game since landing in Dallas and made clean snaps on 423 punts, 177 field goals, and 265 PATs in his career, including the playoffs.
Since 2005 Wallaceburg Ontario’s Shaun Suisham has made a living kicking field goals for the Cowboys, Redskins and currently the Steelers. Suisham kicked collegiately at Bowling Green.
A second-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2011, Orlando Franklin learned his football fundamentals in the Ontario Varsity Football League. The 6-7, 330-pound offensive lineman was born in Jamaica but grew up in Toronto before playing collegiately at Miami. He now has one of the most important jobs in sports – protecting Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
A standout at the University of Western Ontario, Vaughn Martin became the first CIS underclassman ever drafted to the NFL when the Chargers selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. The 6-4, 308-pound defensive tackle signed a four-year contract with the San Diego Chargers in 2009. In 2013 Martin signed as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins. Like fellow Canadian NFLers Israel Idonije and Orlando Franklin, Martin was born elsewhere (Jamaica) but moved to Canada as a young child.
Jon Ryan, a Regina native and former University of Regina Ram, began punting for the Seattle Seahawks in 2008. He was Originally signed by Green Bay as a free agent on February 1, 2006, after two seasons with the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
A former firefighter from Kelowna, BC, Danny Watkins did not begin playing football until the age of 22. After an outstanding collegiate career at Baylor, the 6-7, 31-pound offensive lineman was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was released by the Eagles in 2013, and signed shortly after by the Miami Dolphins.
Hamilton born Austin Collie was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2003 NFL Draft (127th overall) by the Indianapolis Colts). The 5-11, 200-pound receiver was one of Peyton Manning’s favourite targets. Collie was signed as a free agent by the New England Patriots during the 2013 season.
Austin Pasztor’s NFL journey began on an asparagus farm in Langton, Ontario. The 6-7, 308 pound offensive lineman played collegiately at Virginia but went undrafted. Shortly after the 2012 NFL Draft Pasztor signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings. He was released later that season, but recently signed a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars and has started 5 games for the team this season.
Tyrone Crawford, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive end from Windsor, Ontario, played collegiately with the Boise State Broncos. He was chosen in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. The defensive end and former Catholic Central High School star is currently on injured reserve.
Drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Luke Willson is already a starter for the Seattle Seahawks. The 6-5, 251-pound tight end from Lasalle Ontario, became the 23rd Canadian drafted since 1997. Willson played both baseball and football collegiately at Rice University in Texas, and was also drafted by Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays.
Veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson was born in Calgary while his father played for the CFL Calgary Stampeders. Originally drafted in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Burleson is now a member of the Detroit Lions (currently on injured reserve).
Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Green Bay Packers after the 2013 NFL Draft, Andy Mulumba has overcome great odds to become an NFL starter. A native of war-torn Congo, Mulumba moved to Canada with his family and began playing football as a teenager in Montreal.
Toronto native Philip Blake was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. The 6-2, 311-pound centre was released by the Broncos but recently signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013.
A long shot to crack an NFL roster, Kingston’s Cory Greenwood seized attention by excelling on special teams with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2011 the 6-2, 235-pound linebacker led the team in special teams tackles. He finished the season with a career-best 15 special teams stops and also recorded his first career defensive tackle in the season opener vs. Buffalo. Following the 2013 NFL draft Greenwood was released by the Chiefs, then signed with the Detroit Lions He is currently on injured reserve.