Edmonton Elks’ defensive tackle J-Min Pelley declares for 2023 NFL Draft

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Edmonton Elks’ defensive tackle J-Min Pelley has officially declared for the 2023 NFL Draft.

On Friday, the NFL announced the names of 69 underclassmen who underwent the early declaration process and are consequently eligible for selection during their annual pick-fest on April 27-29. Despite having just completed his first professional season, Pelley’s name was among those listed.

The native of Calgary, Alberta was selected by the Elks in the 2022 CFL Supplemental Draft, where they surrendered a 2023 second-round pick to acquire his services. Pelley was entered into the selection pool after applying for special inclusion from CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie due to hardship which would prevent him from continuing his amateur career at the University of Calgary.

The six-foot-five, 330-pound lineman spent the majority of training camp and CFL preseason working on the offensive line, before returning to his natural defensive tackle spot for the regular season. He suited up in 16 games for Edmonton, recording 11 tackles.

Pelley last played collegiately in 2019, helping the Dinos win a Vanier Cup. He recorded 15 total tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and one knockdown in seven regular season games, while also rushing two times for three yards and a touchdown en route to being named a second-team All-Canadian.

Prior to joining the U Sports ranks, he played three seasons in the Canadian Junior Football League with the Calgary Colts (2016-2017) and Okanagan Sun (2018).

Pelley remains under contract with the Elks through 2025. While CFL players are eligible to leave for the NFL early during the league’s exploratory window, any opportunities south of the border for Pelley would come long after that window has closed on the opening of free agency.

The 24-year-old’s unique size and strength could garner serious attention from NFL teams. However, he would require a release from the Elks before signing with another franchise as a draft pick or free agent.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.