Selection Square was rocking in the rain on Saturday, April 30, when the New Orleans Saints made a trade with the Washington Redskins to move up to select No. 120 overall.
The audience went quiet.
“David Onyemata from the Manitoba Bisons… in Canada!”
The crowd went wild. A nation erupted. With those eight words, Canada’s weekend at the NFL Draft began. Here is the list of Canadian talents who had found NFL homes by Sunday morning:
David Onyemata: DT, New Orleans Saints
The CIS’s top down lineman in 2015, Onyemata had never even seen a football when he arrived in Canada from Nigeria five years ago with no intention of pursuing a sport. Five years later, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman is the twelfth CIS player to be taken in the NFL Draft, and the first to be selected out of the University of Manitoba.
“I feel blessed. It is a blessing. I didn’t know what was going on at the time. Once I got that call, I was so pumped. I am just ready to go,” said Onyemata, in a post-draft call with Saints media.
Tevaun Smith: WR, Indianapolis Colts
Heading into the draft, Smith said receiving the call from an NFL GM would be “surreal.” On Saturday, the surreal became real, when the big-time threat agreed to terms with the Colts, where he will attempt to become the second Canadian in as many years to go from UDFA to the team’s 53-man roster, following the rise of Kitchener native Tyler Varga in 2015. The lightning-fast Toronto native, who posted a blazing 4.33 40-yard dash at Iowa’s pro day, reportedly turned down offers from at least four other teams to join the Colts.
Arjen Colquhoun:DB, Dallas Cowboys
A defensive back out of Michigan State, Colquhoun, who suited up for the W.F. Herman Green Griffins in high school, joins fellow Windsor-Essex County native Tyrone Crawford on the Cowboys. In the 2015 season, Colquhoun recorded career-highs of 45 tackles and 10 pass break-ups while starting 11 games at cornerback for the Spartans.
Mehdi Abdesmad: DT, Tennessee Titans
The Montreal native, who starred for the Boston College Eagles despite two injury-riddled seasons, will join Mike Mularkey’s squad in Music City. A product of the CEGEP in Quebec and an all-ACC honours recipient, Abdesmad was the lone Canadian invited to the 2016 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, holding his own against what was widely considered the strongest lineman class in years.
Elie Bouka: DB, Arizona Cardinals
A 6-foot-1, 205-pound wide receiver-turned-defensive back, Bouka fielded calls from at least seven NFL teams before deciding to join the Bird Gang. The Montreal native, who, like Abdesmad, also played in the CEGEP, is currently in the final stages of rehabbing a torn Archilles suffered during last year’s training camp with the University of Calgary Dinos.
The action will continue for Canadian players, as the following 13 prospects have been extended invitations to NFL teams’ rookie minicamps:
- Trent Corney, Virginia Cavaliers: New York Jets
- Mike Jones, Southern Jaguars: Washington Redskins
- DJ Lalama, Manitoba Bison: New York Giants
- Charles Vaillancourt: New York Giants and Oakland Raiders
- Taylor Loffler, UBC Thunderbirds: New York Giants
- Terrell Davis, UBC Thunderbirds: New York Giants
- Alex Singleton, Montana State Bobcats: New England Patriots
- Brandon Revenberg, Grand Valley State: New York Giants
- Doug Corby, Queen’s Golden Gaels: New York Giants
- Mercer Timmis, Calgary Dinos: New York Giants
- Brett Blaszko, Calgary Dinos: New York Giants
- Philippe Gagnon, Laval Rouge et Or: New York Giants
- Quinn Van Gylswyk, UBC Thunderbirds: New York Giants
Follow @NFLCanada on Twitter for up-to-date Canadian news and highlights from around the NFL.