A new generation of Canadians is about to take the NFL by storm.
Chase Claypool scored eleven touchdowns in his rookie campaign in 2020, a level of success that 2021 NFL Draft selections Jevon Holland, Josh Palmer, Benjamin St-Juste, and Chuba Hubbard will look to emulate.
Then there’s Alabama receiver John Metchie III. The Brampton, Ont. native is primed for a huge junior season and is currently the No. 21-ranked player on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s big board for the 2022 NFL Draft.
All of this excitement led me to wonder what an all-time NFL roster would look like if it were comprised exclusively of Canadian players. Names like Claypool, Holland, and Metchie III should crack this list someday, but for now here is the NFL’s all-time roster of Canadians.
We’re starting with the offence. Click here for the defence and special teams.
Editor’s note: players at the same position are listed in alphabetical order.
Quarterback — Mark Rypien (1986-1997, 2001)
The Calgary native had his best seasons with the Washington Football Team, winning two Super Bowls (XXII, XXVI). The two-time Pro Bowl selection retired with 18,473 passing yards and 115 touchdown passes and remains the only Canadian ever to be named Super Bowl MVP. His nephew, Brett, currently plays quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
Honourable mention: Charlie O’Rourke (1941-1942, 1946-1949)
Running Back — Rueben Mayes (1986-1993), Bronko Nagurski (1930-1937, 1943)
Mayes established himself as arguably the greatest player in the history of Washington State football and became a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints. The native of North Battleford, Sask. rushed for 2,270 yards and 13 touchdowns over his first two NFL seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl both years.
Nagurski was born in Rainy River, Ont. and remains one of the greatest players in the history of the Chicago Bears. This six-foot-two, 225-pound ball carrier recorded 633 carries for 2,778 yards and 25 touchdowns, winning two NFL championships. Nagurski’s No. 3 is retired by the Bears and he was named a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Honourable mentions: Tim Biakabutuka (1996-2001), Ray Hare (1940-1944, 1946), Tommy Hughitt (1920-1924)
Wide Receiver — Nate Burleson (2003-2013), Jerome Pathon (1998-2005)
Burleson is easily the most prolific Canadian receiver in NFL history, recording 457 receptions for 5,630 yards and 39 touchdowns. The Calgary native posted a 1,000-yard season with the Minnesota Vikings in 2004 and was underrated as a return specialist, returning 213 career kicks for 2,809 yards and four scores.
Pathon was raised in Vancouver and attended Acadia University for one season — winning U Sports Rookie of the Year — before transferring to Washington. He was a second-round pick the Indianapolis Colts and made 260 career receptions for 3,350 yards and 15 touchdowns with Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Atlanta.
Honourable mentions: Austin Collie (2009-2013), Tommy Kane (1988-1992)
Tight End — Luke Willson (2013-present)
The 31-year-old is still an active player, though he is currently a free agent after finishing last season with the Seattle Seahawks. Born in LaSalle, Ont., Willson has recorded 111 career receptions for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns and won Super Bowl XLVIII during his first stint with Seattle.
Honourable mentions: Antony Auclair (2017-present), O.J. Santiago (1997-2003), Wayne Stewart (1969-1972, 1974)
Tackle — Orlando Franklin (2011-2017), Nick Kaczur (2005-2010)
Franklin started 89 games at tackle and guard over stints with Denver, San Diego, and Washington. Born in Jamaica but raised in Toronto, the Miami product retired at the age of 30 due to health concerns and is now virtually unrecognizable after undergoing a remarkable weight loss transformation.
Kaczur was a third-round pick of the New England Patriots who started 13 games at left tackle as a rookie. The Brantford, Ont. native protected Tom Brady’s blindside for six seasons, which included the team’s 16-0 performance in 2007 and Super Bowl XLII.
Honourable mentions: Justin Cross (1982-1986), Bill Hitchcock (1990-1994), Austin Pasztor (2012-2018), Chris Schultz (1983-1985)
Guard — Ian Beckles (1990-1998), Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (2014-present)
Beckles started 121 career games with Tampa Bay (1990-1996) and Philadelphia (1997-1998), the most of any Canadian offensive lineman in NFL history. The Montreal native was a fifth-round pick out of Indiana where he protected star quarterback Trent Green.
Duvernary-Tardif became a starter in his second year with the Kansas City Chiefs at right guard after being a sixth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The native of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que. won Super Bowl LIV before opting out of the 2020 season to help fight the COVID-19 health pandemic.
Honourable mentions: Tony Mandarich (1989-1992, 1996-1998), Tom Nütten (1995, 1998-2005), Mike Schad (1986-1993)
Centre — Art Kuehn (1976-1983)
The Victoria, B.C. native dressed for 100 regular season games between Seattle and New England, making 33 starts. He also played in the WFL in 1975 with the Southern California Sun and the USFL in 1984 and 1985 with the Memphis Showboats.
Honourable mentions: Brett Jones (2015-present), Brett Romberg (2003-2011, 2013)