Pete Carroll was ‘surprised’ Canadian OL Dakoda Shepley came available; CFL helped get him back to NFL

Photo courtesy: Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll did not expect the opportunity to bring in Canadian offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley to come about.

Following training camp with the San Francisco 49ers, Shepley was put on waivers and Seattle seized the moment.

“Really, really liked him at centre. We were surprised that he was available as we watched him. Our guys did a really good pre-season evaluation of him, really one of our favourite guys. And shoot if he didn’t show up for us, so we were very fortunate to get him,” Carroll said.

The 27-year-old Shepley also had interest from the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals, but it was the Seahawks who landed the athletic man from Windsor, ON. The six-foot-four, 310-pound o-lineman was added to Seattle’s 53-man active roster.

“I had no idea what the future held, I was just taking it as it came. There were a few other teams that expressed interest and I really didn’t know what was to come,” Shepley said.

“I’m really happy to remain on the West coast, be in the Pacific Northwest, really close to Vancouver where I went to school, I couldn’t ask for more.”

Veteran Ethan Pocic has started 30 games for the Seahawks after being selected in the second round, 58th overall during the 2017 NFL Draft. Pocic is the current starter at the position with Kyle Fuller listed on the team’s depth chart as his backup.

“I’m just here to compete to play. That’s what any player on a team should be looking to do, compete to contribute to win games and winning championships — that’s what I’m here to do,” Shepley said.

“I’m the right size for it, I have a lot of athleticism and can take advantage of it with the style of offence they run here.”

In 2020, Shepley made his NFL debut with the 49ers against the Washington Football Team in Week 14 after being called up from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. He finished the season dressing in the final three games for San Fran.

“I got told after the end of the last season that I’m going to be a centre in the league. Chris Foerster, o-line coach for the 49ers, told me I’m a centre. I trusted his judgement, he’s a great coach and I took him seriously,” Shepley said.

“I’ve been teaching myself and learning how to snap, read the defence like a centre should and I’ve gotten a pretty good handle of it. I feel as though I’m a plug-and-play guy now because of all the work I did this off-season.”

The new Seahawk opted out of his CFL contract in August 2020 to pursue the NFL, signing a one-year deal with the 49ers. He beat out two other offensive linemen who were selected in past NFL drafts in Jamon Brown (third rounder, 2015) and Ted Larsen (sixth rounder, 2010) for that contract.

“Thankfully because of COVID, don’t get it twisted, it gave me the opportunity to opt out of my contract because they ended up cancelling the 2020 season. I would’ve been there two more years, but it worked out,” Shepley said.

He signed a contract with the New York Jets after going unselected in the 2018 NFL draft. The University of British Columbia product was cut following training camp that year and spent the rest of the season awaiting another NFL opportunity.

In the 2018 CFL Draft, Shepley was selected in the first round, fifth overall by the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He signed with the green and white in March 2019 and started 14 games at right guard that season, winning the team’s Most Outstanding Rookie award for his ability to quickly assimilate to the pro three-down game.

“Going to the CFL was a great step for me, it taught me how to be a pro, it was a good ramp up in speed, as far as how fast the game is played. It was definitely something I needed, I learned from it, and it got me where I am now,” Shepley said.

“When I got signed to the Jets out of college in Canada, it was a huge jump and in hindsight probably one I was underprepared for. My goal after I got released by the Jets was be in the NFL and being an NFL offensive lineman. I feel like I can play here.”

Shepley joins the Seahawks shortly after Canadian tight end Luke Willson signed a one-day contract to retire with the franchise. Shepley has been hearing stories about his fellow Canuck since his arrival in Seattle.

“All I’ve heard is just legends so far about what kind of guy he was in the building,” Shepley said.

“I’ve heard so much about how he’s going to be missed, he brought a lot of energy, hopefully I can fill those shoes and bring the energy — represent for Canada.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.