The 2021 NFL Draft is a wrap, and it saw a historic number of Canadian players taken by US teams. The 4 players selected tied the 2014 draft, when Brent Urban, John Urschel, T.J. Jones and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif were taken on day 3. Though none of the players taken in 2021 played north of the border in U Sports Football, this still goes to show the inroads that Canadian football players are making in the NFL.
DB Jevon Holland – Oregon
Miami Dolphins -Round 2, 36th Overall
The B.C. Native has great length for a defensive back at 6’1″ 207 pounds, and ran a 4.46 unofficial 40 at Oregon’s pro day. The physical traits are elite and he’s been lauded for his versatility to play on the back end, or up in the box/nickel spot. Holland’s length and speed is an asset in coverage and he could be a good matchup for some of the league’s more athletic tight ends, while his ballhawking abilities project him as a playmaker wherever he lines up. Brian Flores has done a good job retooling this secondary and adding a defensive back like Hollard will allow him to plug in wherever needed.
DB Benjamin St-Juste – Minnesota
Washington Football Team – Round 3, 74th Overall
Born in Montreal, St-Juste played high school football at Cegep du Vieux Montreal, and was the No. 1 prospect in Quebec. He played cornerback at Michigan and Minnesota, and projects as a physical press corner who can thrive in the right scheme. He won’t be expected to start right away behind Kendall Fuller, William Jackson III and Greg Stroman, but will have a chance to develop and refine his technique in Washington while competing for playing time. He’s also 6’3″, 200 pounds with a 4.51 40 time at his pro day, and though he doesn’t have top-end speed, could be a fantastic candidate to lock down tight ends over the middle with his length and physicality.
WR Josh Palmer – Tennessee
Los Angeles Chargers – Round 3, 77th Overall
Palmer was born in Brampton, Ontario and had moved to Florida where he got into high school football. He had a distinguished career with the Volunteers at Tennessee, with 99 receptions for 1514 yards and 7 TD’s, capped off by Senior Bowl and NFL Combine invitations. There he showed off a solid size/speed combo at 6’2″ 210 with a 4.51 40, and clearly got the attention of the Chargers on Day 2. Though Los Angeles has a pretty solid rotation at WR with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton, its’ looking like they’ll be calling on Herbert a lot and Palmer could find himself a nice role in this offense.
RB Chuba Hubbard – Oklahoma State
Carolina Panthers – Round 4, 126th Overall
Hubbard was born in Edmonton and led a fantastic career at Bev Facey Community High School playing 3 down football. In three seasons, he put up insane numbers, rushing for 6,880 yards at 15.0 yards/carry, with 82 touchdowns. His video-game statistics led to him being named all-Canadian first team and league MVP, and he also led Canada’s Under-15 team to a 42-0 win over the United States. He went on to play at Oklahoma state, continuing his trend of massive production with 2,292 yards from scrimmage and 21 TD’s as a sophomore. A former track star, he clocked in a 4.48 40 and has a good frame at 6’0″, 210, and while he won’t be taking over for Christian McCaffrey anytime soon, is a great option in Carolina’s backfield.
These selections were high up on draft boards, and with predominantly Day 2 picks this year Canadian football talent is making its mark in the NFL. In the Undrafted Free Agent frenzy that follows the NFL draft, even more Canadian players are winding up on rosters.
TE Bruno Labelle – Arizona Cardinals
OL Alaric Jackson – Los Angeles Rams
OL Pier-Olivier Lestage – Seattle Seahawks
LB Amen Ogbongbemiga – Los Angeles Chargers
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