A couple of weeks removed from the results that piled up at the CFL Combine, talent evaluators will also have to consider the film and testing results that Canadian athletes put together south of the border in the last few weeks.
Pro day results out of U.S.-based schools have been piling up leading into the NFL Draft on April 28. That’ll create a trickle-down effect for Canadian players that took part in pro days that are also eligible for the CFL Draft on May 3.
Penn State linebacker and Ottawa native Jesse Luketa was the top prospect in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s winter edition and has been projected to be a Day 2 or 3 selection in the NFL Draft.
Jesse Luketa (EDGE-Penn State) Pro Day:
— Ryan Fowler (@_RyanFowler_) March 24, 2022
Luketa presents a difficult challenge for teams as the move into the draft. He could no doubt make a CFL team better, but a relatively early selection in the NFL Draft could leave the CFL team that takes him at best playing a waiting game and at worst using a pick on a player that they might never see.
The most recent player to pose this challenge to CFL clubs was RB Chuba Hubbard. The Edmonton product made all kinds of headlines in his time at Oklahoma State, before being chosen in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. The Calgary Stampeders used their fifth-round pick on Hubbard in the 2021 Draft, anticipating that they may not see the talented running back for many years, if ever, but felt the late pick was worth the gamble.
It can seem strange to see such a talented player taken so late in the CFL Draft, but that’s more of a testament to the CFL team projecting that player’s chances at an NFL career. Dallas Cowboy and Ottawa native Neville Gallimore was chosen by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, with the third-last pick in the 2020 CFL Draft. It turned out to be a wise move by GM Jeremy O’Day, as Gallimore has settled in nicely with the Cowboys. If things change for him further down the road, the Riders remain an option for him at a low cost on their part.
As CFL clubs wait to see how things shake out in the NFL Draft, they have the benefit of the data that comes from college program’s pro days — events that many CFL teams are present at as well — and the recent NFL Combine to work off of to evaluate Canadian players.
Teams gained some more info on another prospect this past week. 3DownNation’s J.C. Abbott reported that defensive back Shaquille St-Lot — the 20th-ranked prospect in the Scouting Bureau’s winter edition — took part in Maine’s pro day. He was joined by DB Katley Joseph and defensive end DeShawn Stevens. Stevens was chosen by the Ottawa REDBLACKS sixth overall last year, but opted to return to Maine to play his senior season.
Abbot reported that St-Lot was unable to test at Maine, as the Montrealer was recovering from an injury. He measured at five-foot-11 and 193 pounds and got eight reps in on the bench press.
Another Montreal native that showed well at a pro day was receiver Samuel Emilus. He spent three years at UMASS (2018-2020) and had 59 catches for 653 yards and a touchdown with the Minutemen, before jumping to Louisiana Tech for the 2021 season. He had 16 receptions for 245 yards and three touchdowns with the Bulldogs.
@SEmilus has such natural ball skills. Smooth mover who was a standout during positional drills. Back in Amherst after playing his last season at LATC
— Shane Coughlin (@Shane__Coughlin) March 24, 2022
Of course, one Canadian player that would have his name resonating more at this time of year were it not for injury is receiver John Metchie III. He was a force at Alabama, becoming a second-team All-SEC selection in 2021, thanks to a team-best 96 catches for 1,141 yards and eight touchdowns. He suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the Crimson Tide’s SEC championship win over Georgia and missed his team’s NCAA title game loss to the Bulldogs to close out the season.
His recovery has kept him out of pro days. Despite that, The Athletic has him as a second-round selection in its NFL mock draft. ESPN also sees him as a second-round NFL pick. Metchie told reporters at the NFL Combine that he was on track to be cleared to return to action in June. Metchie’s progress and the NFL landing spots of many top Canadian players are something that CFL teams will no doubt be keeping tabs on as the NFL’s draft day nears.