The 2022 NFL Draft is loaded with talented players from Canada. That certainly isn't uncommon as a handful of Canadians are always drafted every year.
In February, the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp.’s PROLINE platform even became the first official NFL sportsbook partner in Canada.
But who will be the first Canadian selected during this year's draft that begins Thursday? Let's take a look at the current odds:
Favorites to be First Canadian Drafted
Here are the four favorites to be the first Canadians selected in the 2022 NFL Draft:
|John Metchie, WR, Alabama||-600|
|Jesse Luketa, LB, Penn State||+300|
|Luiji Vilain, DL, Wake Forest||+10000|
|Patrice Rene, CB, Rutgers||+10000|
The Ontario sports betting market launched on April 4. The projected odds are from Bookies.com.
Breaking Down Players from Canada
Here's a brief synopsis of the likely Canadian players at U.S. colleges who could be drafted Thursday-Saturday.
John Metchie, Alabama, WR
If it weren’t for a torn ACL at the end of the season, Metchie (Brampton, Ontario) would have had a chance to be a first-round pick. However, he is now likely to be picked sometime on Day 2 after 1,150 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last season for Alabama. Although he doesn't have great size, he is one of the better route runners in this class. Despite the knee injury, a top-75 selection seems likely for Metchie as he is one of the "safer" receivers in this class.
Jesse Luketa, Penn State, LB
Going into the 2021 season, Luketa (Ottawa) was mostly an off-the-ball linebacker for Penn State. But he moved to defensive end out of neccesity and it significantly helped his draft stock. He is still a bit of a "tweener," but his athleticism, motor and special teams experience should have him picked somewhere inside the top-150 selections. Luketa played four years at Penn State, totaling 151 tackles and 11.5 tackles for a loss.
Luiji Vilain, Wake Forest, DE
Vilain (Ottawa) is a former Michigan defensive end who transferred to Wake Forest for his senior year. That was a wise move as he had eight sacks with nine tackles for a loss in 2021. He's got great size and length for the position but needs to be a bit more refined as a rusher. Still, he should hear his name called sometime during the third day of the draft.
Patrice Rene, Rutgerts CB
Rene (Ottawa) transferred from North Carolina to Rutgers after playing in nine games during the 2020 season. Last year (2021) was his sixth season playing college football, but he managed to play just two games because of an injury. While he does have great size for the cornerback position (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), his lackluster college career will likely cause him to go undrafted in April. Still, expect him to get a few looks as a priority free agent after the draft.
Highest-Drafted Canadians Since 2000
There have been several Canadians drafted into the NFL since 2000. The exact number is 31, which is only expected to grow this year. But who have been the highest-selected Canadians over the last few years? Here is the top 10:
- 2011 – Eagles OG Danny Watkins (No. 23): Watkins (Kelowna, B.C.) was the highest-selected Canadian picked since 2000 as he was selected in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles. However, he played just 24 games in the NFL before retiring.
- 2019 - Patriots WR N’Keal Harry (No. 32): Harry (Toronto) was the second receiver selected in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he has not had a solid start to his career. In three seasons with the Patriots, he's caught just 57 passes for 598 yards and four touchdowns.
- 2021 – Dolphins FS Jevon Holland (No. 36): Holland (Coquitlam, B.C.) had a strong rookie season with Miami, starting in 13 games. He totaled two interceptions and forced two fumbles as he already appears to be one of the best young safeties in the NFL.
- 2011 – Broncos RT Orlando Franklin (No. 46): Franklin (Toronto) started 89 games in the NFL at both right tackle and left guard. He was a quality starter for both the Broncos and the Chargers for several years. He retired after the 2017 season at the age of 30.
- 2020 – Steelers WR Chase Claypool (No. 49): Claypool (Abbotsford, B.C.) has had two nice seasons to start his career, totaling a combined 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Steelers. He is expected to be a starting receiver again for the Steelers during the 2022 NFL season.
- 2003 – Raiders TE Teyo Johnson (No. 63): Johnson (White Rock, B.C.) had a three-year NFL career, contributing mainly as a blocking tight end. He appeared in 30 total games for both the Raiders and the Cardinals. He finished his career with 26 receptions for 288 yards and three touchdowns.
- 2005 – Rams DB O.J. Atogwe (No. 66): Atogwe (Windsor, Ontario) had a long NFL career, starting 83 total games for the Rams and Redskins. He played mostly free safety during his career, intercepting 25 passes. His best season came in 2007, when he totaled eight interceptions and 75 tackles.
- 2003 – Vikings WR Nate Burleson (No. 71): Burleson (Calgary) played 11 years in the NFL, appearing in 135 games with 103 starts. He caught 457 passes for 5,630 yards and 39 touchdowns. The best season of his career came in 2004 with the Vikings when he caught 68 passes for 1,006 yards and nine touchdowns.
- 2018 – Jets DT Nathan Shepherd (No. 72): Shepherd (Ajax, Ontario) was a third-round pick by the Jets in 2018 and has emerged as one of the better run defenders in the NFL. While he has never been a full-time starter, he has been a good rotational piece for the Jets for the past several seasons.
- 2021 – Chargers WR Josh Palmer (No. 77): Palmer (Brampton) had an excellent rookie year with the Chargers as he was often their No. 4 receiver. He caught 33 passes for 353 yards and four touchdowns during the 2021 season. Going into the 2022 season, he is expected to have a more prominent role in the offense.