Canadians who could be selected in the NFL draft (or signed afterwards)

A Canadian has been chosen in the NFL draft for seven consecutive years, the longest such streak in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

Expect it to keep going this week.

There is one player who is a lock to be picked and a handful of players with an outside chance to go in the late rounds. Some of those prospects could ink priority undrafted free agent contracts after the draft or get rookie mini-camp invites.

With the NFL draft set to begin on Thursday, here’s a look at the Canadian players who are in the mix.

Nathan Shepherd, DL, Fort Hays State

Hometown: Toronto, ON
NFL draft range: Day 2-3 pick
CFL prospect ranking: Ticats neg list

Shepherd has gone from packing boxes in a factory to checking them for pro football scouts. He earned an invite to the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine – the only Canadian at both events in 2018 – and shot himself up draft rankings throughout the pre-draft process. At six-foot-four, 315 pounds, Shepherd has rare movement skills for his size. More than 10 NFL teams have brought Shepherd to their facilities for private workouts – and teams only have 30 pre-draft visits to use on prospects. That makes it a near certainty Shepherd comes off the board in round two or three. How certain are CFL teams that he’ll be drafted? He wasn’t included in the last edition of prospect rankings.

Ryan Hunter, OL, Bowling Green

Hometown: North Bay, ON
NFL draft range: Day 3 to priority free agent
CFL prospect ranking: 1

Hunter is a versatile, smooth-moving athlete at six-foot-three, 316 pounds. He’s powerful and explosive from being a Canadian Jr. weightlifting champion and over 20 NFL teams were at Bowling Green’s pro day. That was followed by a private workout with one NFL team and calls with more than a dozen franchises. There is a chance Hunter could be a late-round selection, although it’s more likely he’ll be a priority free agent signee.

David Knevel, OL, Nebraska

Hometown: Brantford, ON
NFL draft range: Day 3, priority free agent to rookie mini-camp invitee
CFL prospect ranking: 5

Based on pure size – six-foot-eight, 333 pounds – NFL teams are interested in Knevel, who played both guard and tackle during his senior season with the Cornhuskers. Twenty-seven NFL clubs attended Nebraska’s pro day and the Houston Texans had the massive offensive lineman in for a workout. Knevel has an outside shot at being taken in the late rounds but signing after the draft or getting a rookie mini-camp invite are two probable scenarios.

Peter Godber, OL, Rice

Hometown: Toronto
NFL draft range: Priority free agent to rookie mini-camp invitee
CFL prospect ranking: 7

Godber displayed athletic traits at Rice’s pro day when 26 NFL teams came to campus. He is experienced, tough, well built and smart. The resume Godber has put together at Rice – 35 starts, four-time conference honour roll and Iron Owl award – is impressive and could get Godber an NFL opportunity.

Trey Rutherford, OL, Connecticut

Hometown: Markham, ON
NFL draft range: Priority free agent to rookie mini-camp invitee
CFL prospect ranking: 4

Back in January, Rutherford showed well at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl after playing in 12 games as a senior at the UConn. Despite a minor lower-body injury, Rutherford had a solid UConn pro day performance with 18 NFL teams and two CFL squads – Calgary and Saskatchewan – in attendance. Free agent to rookie mini-camp seems is the range for Rutherford.

Dakoda Shepley, OL, UBC

Hometown: Windsor, ON
NFL draft range: Priority free agent to rookie mini-camp invitee
CFL prospect ranking: 3

Shepley was under consideration to earn one of the two coveted invites for USports football players to the East-West Shrine Game in Florida and even though he missed out, his stock has risen. He got into Eastern Michigan’s pro day to perform in front of 20-plus NFL teams – two NFL scouts had to request Shepley, a specific sign of legitimate interest. Many of the testing results he posted would’ve ranked him in the top 10 at the NFL combine but strong indications point to Shepley getting a free agent contract once the NFL draft is complete.

Mark Chapman, REC, Central Michigan

Hometown: Port Huron, MI
NFL draft range: Priority free agent to rookie mini-camp invitee
CFL prospect ranking: 2

Every single NFL franchise had eyes on Chapman at Central Michigan’s pro day. The productive senior pass catcher – 59 receptions for 875 yards and five touchdowns – is a smooth route runner and glides in and out of breaks. Scouts see a little Julian Edelman in Chapman. The star Patriots receiver went to Kent State, a Mid-American Conference school like Chapman, and New England selected Edelman in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft. Chapman has that same late-round and sleeper potential. If no team turns a draft card in for Chapman a priority free agent deal is certainly attainable.

Mark Korte, OL, Alberta

Hometown: Edmonton, AL
NFL draft range: Priority free agent to rookie mini-camp invitee
CFL prospect ranking: 6

Korte was invited to the prestigious East-West Shrine Game in January, garnering NFL interest while proving he could handle the jump in competition level. The Washington Redskins sent a scout to Edmonton to work out Korte and he posted NFL-calibre testing numbers. All the NFL teams got an up-close look at Korte in Florida, where he spoke to multiple franchises, so scouts south of the border are familiar with him. Barring a surprise late-round draft call, Korte projects to be an undrafted free agent target with a rookie mini-camp invite a near certainty.

Others worth monitoring:

Jackson Bennett, DB/LB, Ottawa
The versatile defender was worked out by the Washington Redskins on the Gee-Gees campus and blazed a 4.48 laser-timed 40.

Godfrey Onyeka, DB/LB, Laurier
Five NFL teams have called to inquire about the ultra-physical defensive player.

Isaiah Guzylak-Messam, DB, Laurier
The Golden Hawk cover man ran the fastest hand-time 40 (4.51) at the CFL combine which prompted a few NFL teams to pick up the phone to find out more.

Ryan Sceviour, OL, Calgary
Three NFL squads reached out about the Dinos O-lineman who has outstanding film.

Julien Laurent, DL, Georgia State
He attended the Atlanta Falcons local pro day and could intrigue NFL teams as a strong anchor on the interior of the defensive line.