Jesse Luketa, another Canadian at the gates of the NFL


INDIANAPOLIS | “We Canadian players are everywhere now. We are invading the NFL!” Jesse Luketa proudly launched during his meeting with the media on Friday at the Combine in Indianapolis.

The player from Ottawa has put on a little thick for the sake of the show, but come to think of it, the one who plays as much as a linebacker as a defensive end is not totally wrong.

Since 2011, at least one Canadian player has been drafted each year. In total, 21 players from the country joined the Goodell circuit during this period, not counting those who made their way as free agents.

“It’s good that in Canada, we finally find ourselves in the spotlight. There is a lot of talent and we are finally starting to receive the same opportunities as everyone else. It’s cool because between Canadian players, we form a tightly knit group,” he said.

Born in Ottawa to a mother who immigrated from the Congo, Luketa is ranked as the top prospect for the Canadian League Draft, but it is clearly in the NFL that he will begin his professional career next season.

Photo credit: Photo archives, AFP

Positionless

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah mentioned before the Combine on a conference call that he views Luketa as a third-round pick.

“He is a very versatile player. It’s about talking to the coaches in the league to see that currently the trend is towards players without a defined position. He can do a lot, especially chasing the quarterback,” he said.

There was a time not so long ago when a player without a clear position sowed doubt. Today, the emergence of several hybrid linebackers makes a player like Luketa even more attractive.

« I see myself as part of a game of chess, » illustrated Luketa during his media session.

“It becomes difficult for an attack to establish a game plan against such dynamic players, who can bring more than one facet to their game. This is where our sport is going and in Jesse Luketa, a team will not get a specific position, but a football player who can accomplish a multitude of things,” continued Mr. Jeremiah.

productive player

In four seasons at Penn State, Luketa racked up 151 tackles, including 11.5 for losses, in addition to knocking down six assists. With the departure of Micah Parsons, who quickly distinguished himself with the Cowboys in the NFL by appropriating the title of defensive rookie of the year, Luketa took up more space. He even scored a touchdown on an interception return.

In the recent Senior Bowl, he had the opportunity to demonstrate his potential to chase down the quarterback and didn’t miss his chance to get noticed, with two sacks.

“I’m comfortable playing as a defensive end or linebacker, whether it’s inside or outside. It is certain that to reach my full potential, I see myself above all outside,” mentioned the burly man of 6 ft 2 in and 261 lb.

“At the end of the day, I’m a defensive player. My only goal is to become the most disruptive player on the pitch. »

Kayvon Thibodeaux sets the record straight

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INDIANAPOLIS | For many months, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux was considered the potential first overall pick in the draft. Since then, some have questioned his dedication to his sport and believe he could be slipping.

The University of Oregon quarterback hunter set the record straight during his turn at the microphone at the Combine.

On the pitch, Thibodeaux’s productivity leaves no one indifferent. In 30 games spread over three seasons, he shined with 19 quarterback sacks and 35.5 tackles for a loss.

However, rumors that his work ethic may be lacking are becoming more and more persistent. As the season went on, it was Michigan defensive end Aiden Hutchinson who rose to the rank of potential first defensive player to be selected.

Photo credit: Photo archives, AFP

« I don’t think I had to convince the teams during my interviews, but that’s the media narrative. If you knew all the adversity I’ve been through and the things I’ve had to sacrifice, everyone would truly understand what’s in my heart.

“When you question the fire in me, my passion, it makes me emotional just to think about it. I know everything it took me to reach this level,” he said.

Interview with the Giants

Though he said teams haven’t questioned his passion, Thibodeaux still cited his interview with the Giants, who hold the fifth overall pick, as an example.

“It was a good interview, but they were very hard on me. They wanted to know how I was going to react in a big market like New York if after five games I’m not a big star, I have no quarterback sack and everyone is on my back.

“I’ve been in the media since I was in high school. I was trained to live in such situations. I just think that such interviews are a bit like a big brother who loves me and wants me well, but who pushes me hard, ”he reacted.

Thibodeaux said he models his game around veteran NFL players like Von Miller and Jadeveon Clowney.

“With someone smart like me, there are so many positives that people have to look for the negative. I don’t care. I am a real student of football and I love the game.”

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