B.C. Lions sign homegrown defensive end Jonathan Kongbo following NFL stint

Photo: AP/Bart Young

The B.C. Lions have signed Canadian defensive end Jonathan Kongbo after a stint in the NFL.

The six-foot-five, 266-pound pass rusher spent the 2022 season with the Denver Broncos, suiting up in three games and recording one tackle.

Kongbo played all 14 regular season games with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2021, recording 16 tackles, three sacks, and one special teams tackle. He made three tackles and one sack in the West Final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders and helped Winnipeg win a second consecutive Grey Cup title against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The 26-year-old was selected in the first round of the 2019 CFL Draft following a standout career at the University of Tennessee. Once thought to be a surefire NFL draft pick, Kongbo suffered a torn ACL that lowered his stock south of the border as he worked back to full health.

Kongbo joined Winnipeg in May 2019 and continued to rehabilitate his knee injury for the first third of the season. He eventually made his professional debut in August 2019 against the Toronto Argonauts and appeared in 12 regular season games as a rookie, recording 12 tackles and one sack. He rotated along the defensive line during the post-season and recorded two tackles and one sack against Saskatchewan in the West Final.

Kongbo was released after the 2019 Grey Cup to pursue NFL opportunities and signed with the San Francisco 49ers. He was waived after training camp with an injury designation and released shortly thereafter with an injury settlement.

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Surrey, Kongbo attended Holy Cross Secondary School and accepted a scholarship to the University of Wyoming. He redshirted during the 2014 season and then transferred to Arizona Western College.

After gaining a reputation as the No. 1 junior college defensive line prospect while in Arizona, Kongbo received scholarship offers from Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, USC, Florida State, Washington, Ole Miss, and Tennessee.

Kongbo played 30 games with 17 starts over three seasons with the Volunteers in the SEC as a linebacker and defensive lineman, recording 51 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions.