A record number of Canadian players are expected to be selected in the NFL Draft, which runs Thursday night through Saturday. At least five maple leaf hopefuls have a good chance of hearing their name, according to experienced analysts.
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In 2014, four players from Canada were selected in the draft, which is still the country’s record today.
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In addition to Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (Chiefs) in round six, wide receiver TJ Jones (Lions in round six), offensive lineman John Urschel (Ravens in round five) and defensive lineman Brent Urban (Ravens in fourth round) had found a taker.
This year, defensive back Jevon Holland, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, wide receiver Josh Palmer, running back Chuba Hubbard and offensive lineman Alaric Jackson will, in all likelihood, be drafted.
Other players, such as Carabins guard Pier-Olivier Lestage, Cincinnati Bearcats tight end Bruno Labelle and Alberta linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga (Oklahoma State) are also eligible and could get a free agent chance after the draft.
PHOTO COURTESY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Benjamin St-Juste is part of a raised contingent of Canadian players who are eligible for the draft this week.
If St-Juste is obviously a lot of talk in Quebec, it is Holland who could be the first chosen. The Coquitlam, BC native has shone as an inside cornerback with the University of Oregon and is expected to be used as a marauder in the NFL.
“He’s the second marauder on my list and I think he will come out in the top 50. He can do a lot of things on the pitch and has helped his cause by running. [40 verges] in 4.46s at 207 pounds, ”praised NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah on a conference call last week.
Most observers see Holland as a potential second or third round pick.
Weapons to attack
Last season, Canadian receiver Chase Claypool took the NFL by storm after being selected in the second round.
This year, another wide receiver, Josh Palmer of Brampton, Ont., Will try to redo the shot after he cut his teeth at the University of Tennessee. He is seen as a third or fourth round prospect.
“He didn’t have the benefit of a quarterback who could join him consistently, but he had some spectacular catches and he’ll get the ball in the air. He’s showing a great explosion, ”ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said of the 6’2”, 210lb catcher.
Another offensive player who will be watching is Edmonton area running back Chuba Hubbard. In 2019 at Oklahoma State, he was dominant with a 2094 rushing yardage. This season, however, his production has dropped (625 yards) in just seven games.
Daniel Jeremiah believes he could be the eighth runner claimed, around the fourth round.
“He has shown that he can be ultra-productive. When he touches the ball, it’s hard to tackle, ”he said.
A short wait for St-Juste?
Photo courtesy, University of Minnesota
The question concerning Quebec cornerback Benjamin St-Juste is no longer whether he will be drafted, but rather when he will live this honor.
Ratings about the University of Minnesota player are all over the place, according to various draft experts.
Recently, Daniel Jeremiah identified him as a third or fourth round pick.
Mel Kiper is even more optimistic and sends St-Juste to the Bills in the second round in his recent mock draft.
“He’s very tall and he has shown at the Senior Bowl and during his seasons in Minnesota that he has all the skills on cover. It is not easy to find players who can compete with the strongest and most athletic receivers.
« For me, it’s realistic to project him to come out between the end of the second round and the middle of the third round, based on the discussions I have had with several people in the league, » commented last week the one who rolls his bump in the draft since 1979.
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For his part, Dane Brugler, who annually publishes the Brick The Beast on the draft for The Athletic site, assesses St-Juste as a prospect for Day 3, in rounds 4-7 on Saturday.
“His length, speed and fighting spirit against receivers are incredible. I see him as a classic cornerback in man-to-man coverage, who can develop well, ”said the analyst, who however fears that his style will bring him his share of penalties in the NFL.
The advanced statistics site Pro Football Focus sees St-Juste as a third round pick.
“The arrow points up in his case. There are very few cornerbacks in this vintage and even in the NFL who offer such a set of skills, ”reads their draft guide.
To date, the Quebecer who has been drafted for the highest ranking in the NFL is running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka. He was the Panthers ‘eighth overall pick in 1996. Otherwise, we have to go back to 1988, when Montreal receiver Tommy Kane was the Seahawks’ third round pick at 75e rank.