UBC offensive lineman Giovanni Manu selected by Detroit Lions in fourth round of 2024 NFL Draft

Courtesy: Bob Frid/UBC Athletics

Canadian offensive lineman Giovanni Manu has been selected by the Detroit Lions with the 126th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Lions gave up a third-rounder next year to move up and make the University of British Columbia product the first player to be selected directly from a U Sports program since Manitoba defensive tackle David Onyemata was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer was on hand to announce the pick to a raucous hometown crowd in Detroit.

Manu is expected to be joined in the NFL by teammate Theo Benedet, who is projected as a late-round selection or priority undrafted free agent.

Scouts from 16 different NFL teams came to Vancouver to witness the pair of offensive linemen perform at their pro day. The six-foot-seven, 352-pound Manu recorded an impressive 5.03-second forty-yard dash with a 1.81 ten-yard split, as well as an 8.29 three-cone and 4.81 short shuttle. He also put up 23 reps on the bench, while leaping 33.5 inches in the vertical and 107 inches in the broad.

That performance inspired a whirlwind pre-draft tour that included Top 30 visits with 11 different NFL teams. The Arizona Cardinals also came to Vancouver to work him out individually. As many as 13 NFL clubs had already made trips to visit UBC during the 2023 season.

Manu had a prolific U Sports career, starting 38 games for the Thunderbirds. He earned second-team All-Canadian honours in 2022 as a left guard, before returning to school and matching that accomplishment at left tackle.

Born in Tonga, Manu moved to Pitt Meadows, B.C. when he was 11 to live with his aunt. As a high school basketball standout in the province, he earned the nickname ‘Baby Shaq’ for his play under the hoop.

Manu is the eighth-ranked prospect in the 2024 CFL Draft but is expected to fall into the mid-rounds due to his substantial NFL opportunity. He is one of as many as seven Canadians who could hear their name called in the 2024 NFL Draft, which will wrap up on Saturday.