Another year, another NFL draft for Sean McEwen.
For the second straight year, the Calgary Dinos centre finds himself in the rare position of being eligible for consideration south of the border.
NFL rules stipulate players at Canadian schools offering five-year participation in football are eligible for the draft after four. McEwen played at Calgary from 2011 to 2014 to qualify for last year’s selection process.
Players can become eligible for a subsequent NFL draft if they return to school for a fifth season. Doing so last year made McEwen eligible for this year’s event, slated for April 28-30.
Clouding matters was McEwen attended a New York Giants’ mini-camp last year following the draft. However, the six-foot-three, 297-pound Calgary native never signed an NFL contract and participated as a tryout player, leaving his CIS eligibility intact and allowing him to return to school.
“I was just as surprised as anyone when I found out in December I’d be eligible for the draft,” McEwen said during a telephone interview. “It’s nowhere close to a guarantee I’ll get drafted but it’s definitely a possibility.
“Seeing how I compare to everybody else is pretty interesting to me. Regardless of whether it’s in the late rounds (of draft) or free agency afterwards, I think I’m going to get a good opportunity at another shot in the NFL.”
“I want him to exhaust it (NFL opportunity),” Barker said. “We never drafted him expecting he’d come right away.
“Whenever he gets to us we’ll be very happy to have him. At that point, he can begin developing his value in our league.”
McEwen appreciates the sentiment.
“I love the Toronto Argonauts, they’ve been super accommodating,” he said. “Obviously it’s frustrating for them having to wait but at the same time if and when the day comes that I get to work with those guys, I’ll be super excited to do so.”
McEwen began thinking about the NFL after participating in the East-West Shrine game in January. The all-star contest annually attracts top American college players, including such proven NFL stars as Tom Brady, Brett Favre and John Elway.
“I didn’t really know what I was getting into, I hadn’t played a lot of the American game beforehand but I was able to adjust quickly,” McEwen said. “That’s where I got the most confidence going forward.”
Canadian and American football are two diversely different games. Size and strength are important in U.S. football while in Canada, the wider, longer field puts much emphasis on speed and athleticism.
McEwen believes his strengths _ speed and quickness _ will allow him to adjust quickly to American football.
“There’s definitely areas I need to grow in coming from the Canadian game,” he said. “Body angles have to change and obviously you must adjust to the different rules.
“But being able to get to my spot quickly is something I think translates well to the American game.”
So does versatility. McEwen has also worked out at guard this off-season and concentrated overall on playing lower to maximize his power base.
“In Canada you have a yard off the ball but in the American game you don’t really have space to get any momentum going,” he said. “Being able to bend and create power that way becomes more important.”
The yard off the ball is arguably the biggest challenge many players face participating in the two games. But for McEwen, a bigger concern _ literally and figuratively _ is handling NFL defensive tackles who routinely exceed 330 pounds.
“I love hitting people, I love the aggressive side of football,” he said. “Obviously guys are going to really big, strong and powerful.
“I’ve always been someone who plays up to my opponent so I’m looking forward to the increased competition.”
McEwen hopes to teach math and coach football after his playing days. But right now, he’s anxious to become a full-time pro athlete.
“Obviously in college you’ve got a couple of things going,” he said. “But whether you’re playing in the CFL or NFL, you’ve got to dedicate your day to becoming the best athlete you can possibly be.
“I’ve been doing that since this process started, I think I’ve approached it like a professional. It takes a lot of hard work but at the same time it’s work I enjoy.”