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The NFL’s Growing Canadian Presence

What once may have seemed like a division along geographical borders, Canadian football talent now more than ever is making an impact in the National Football League (NFL). While the physical presence of the Canadian Football League is unrivaled, the goal of any football player in Canada is to play for one of the NFL’s 32 teams.

There are currently over 30 active Canadian players in the NFL. Over the last decade, much of this talent has been selected in the NFL Draft. Four Canadians were selected in each of the 2014 and 2021 drafts, marking record highs. In 2022, two more Canadians were selected: Houston Texans’ second-round pick John Metchie, and Arizona Cardinals’ seventh-round pick Jesse Luketa. After the draft, Luiki Vilain and Jake Julien were signed by the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots, respectively, as Undrafted Free Agents.

The NFL Draft isn’t the only place Canadians are making their presence known. Five Canadians have won the Superbowl over the last three seasons. In 2020, Ryan Hunter, and starting Right Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who played college football for McGill, won Superbowl LIV with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2021, Tight End Anthony Auclair was on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster when they won Superbowl LV. This year, Michael Hoecht and Alaric Jackson both contributed to the Los Angeles Rams playoff run on route to winning Superbowl LVI.

Most of Canada’s top football talent finds its way to the NCAA. Standout players over the last few seasons include Chuba Hubbard, who led the NCAA in rushing in 2019, and Metchie who in 2021 finished third in total receptions and receiving yards, and seventh in receiving touchdowns in the SEC. Both players are former recipients of the Jon Cornish Trophy, an award inaugurated in 2017 which is given annually to the top Canadian football player in the NCAA.

Canadian talent is slowly making its voice heard in the NCAA and NFL. It has become a common trend for college and professional scouts to make the trip north of the border in search of the next superstar. With a record number of Canadians in the NFL, there has been no better time for young football players across the country to dream of the gridiron.