Canadian DL David Onyemata suspended for part of 2021 NFL season after positive banned substance test

Photo courtesy: Michael C. Hebert/New Orleans Saints

Canadian defensive lineman David Onyemata tested positive for a banned substance and has been suspended for part of the 2021 NFL season.

Onyemata shared the news on his Instagram account.


The 28-year-old Onyemata was chosen by New Orleans when the Saints traded up to select him in the fourth round, 120th overall during the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders own Onyemata’s CFL rights by selecting him in the fourth round, 35th overall of the 2016 CFL Draft. He went late because of his high level of NFL interest.

Onyemata was the top-ranked prospect before the 2016 CFL draft after an excellent U Sports career at the University of Manitoba. Despite never having seen a football game in his native Nigeria before arriving in Winnipeg, Onyemata blossomed to win the 2015 J. P. Metras Trophy as the top down lineman in Canadian university football.

“The first time I heard about football was in high school. Some of my buddies in the same grade were from the United States. We talked about it, but I didn’t really know what it was. I watched a couple CFL games on TV when I got to Canada—that was the first football I ever saw being played,” Onyemata said in January 2016.

Onyemata wowed NFL scouts from half the league’s teams with a pro day performance that would have had him atop a number of measurable categories should he have participated in the NFL combine.

It’s true that Onyemata had far less name recognition due to picking up the game late, suiting up in Canada and playing hundreds of fewer reps than an average NCAA player, but NFL personnel evaluators viewed it as a positive, especially the Saints who were awed by his athleticism.

Since being selected by New Orleans, Onyemata has played 78 games, starting 40, recording 94 solo tackles, 73 assisted tackles, 42 quarterback hits, 21 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, five pass knockdowns, one forced fumble, and one interception.

Onyemata has earned over $15 million so far in his NFL career.