If history is any indication, David Onyemata’s selection in the fourth round of the NFL draft will cause his CFL stock to plummet.
Looking back at what happened in the 2015 draft process on both sides of the border can provide a rough guideline about what could happen with Canadian players who garner NFL opportunities.
Defensive lineman Christian Covington was the lone Canadian selected in the 2015 NFL draft when Houston nabbed him in the sixth round, 216th overall. That sent Covington down the CFL draft board – like Onyemata, he was the top-ranked prospect going in – and he was eventually taken by B.C. in the fifth round, 43rd overall.
Immediately after the NFL draft concluded, two more Canadians signed free agent NFL pacts.
Offensive lineman Brett Boyko, ranked No. 2 by CFL central scouting, inked a contract with Philadelphia. The B.C. Lions grabbed Boyko in the second round, 14th overall but he spent the 2015 season on the Eagles’ practice roster then signed a futures contract in January and will try and crack the 53-man roster this year.
Running back Tyler Varga, ranked No. 4 by CFL central scouting, signed a three-year deal with Indianapolis and Calgary picked him to begin the third round at No. 19 overall. He made the Colts roster and saw game action as a kick returner and on offence. Varga showed potential before suffering a hit against the Titans in Week 3 that left him with a concussion and put him on injured reserve for the rest of the season. He’s healthy now and looking to make an impact with Indy in 2016.
A large group of Canadians garnered NFL rookie mini-camp invites a year ago. Alex Mateas (Jets), Sukh Chungh (Giants), Sean McEwen (Giants), Chris Ackie (Giants), Nic Demski (Browns), Danny Groulx (Giants), Jacob Ruby (Giants), Addison Richards (Giants), Daryl Waud (Giants and Redskins), Byron Archambault (Giants), Lemar Durant (Giants), Tevaughn Campbell (Giants), Ron Omara (Giants), Brandon Bridge (Cowboys) and Maxx Forde (Seahawks).
Out of all those players, only Waud was offered an NFL contract after a strong performance in Washington, but he elected to return north of the border and play for the Argonauts.
When a Canadian like Onyemata gets drafted by an NFL team, he immediately falls down the CFL board. Some scouts believe the Manitoba product will likely never play three-down pro football after New Orleans traded up in the fourth round to select the six-foot-three, 300 lbs. defensive lineman 120th overall.
Meanwhile, Iowa receiver Tevaun Smith, Michigan State defensive back Arjen Colquhoun, Boston College defensive lineman Mehdi Abdesmad and Calgary defensive back Elie Bouka all signed priority undrafted free agent contracts – with signing bonuses. That possibly drops those players out of first-round CFL Draft consideration because at minimum teams won’t get them until cuts are made at NFL training camps in August, if not longer – see Boyko and Varga as examples.
NFL rookie mini-camp invites won’t impact CFL Draft positions unless a player performs well enough to earn a contract offer. That’s when changes occur.
Those different situations show what can happen with Canadian prospects that receive varying degrees of NFL interest.