The NFL Draft is set for this week in Kansas City (April 27-29) and, once again, there are plenty of Canadian players for the league and its fans to be excited about. Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron (Victoriaville, Quebec) is the biggest name, likely to go in the first or second round.
Other highly touted Canadians include brothers Chase and Sydney Brown from Illinois (London, Ontario), Ole Miss defensive end Tavis Robinson (Guelph, Ontario), and Eastern Michigan offensive lineman Sidy Sow (Bromont, Quebec).
But once again, there’s some Ottawa content to keep an eye on. In 2020, Neville Gallimore was chosen by Dallas. Last year, Penn State’s Jesse Luketa and Wake Forest’s Luiji Vilain, both from Ottawa, were among the Canadian 2022 NFL Draft hopefuls. Villain didn’t get selected but he did get signed by the Vikings right at the end of the draft. Luketa was selected by Arizona in round seven.
Now Luketa’s former teammate, Jonathan Sutherland, is also hoping to make the jump from Ottawa to Penn State to the pros. Sutherland is a 5-foot-11, 201 pound safety, who moved to linebacker last season.
Sutherland also had the honour of becoming the first Nittany Lion to wear zero as his jersey number. While that may not sound like an honour, it is.
In 2020, when the NCAA rules changed to allow zero as a jersey number, there was plenty of player interest. But Penn State did something different. They gave it to a player to honour their leadership contributions and special teams prowess. That player was Sutherland, who’s worn it ever since. He took it off for the final time at the Rose Bowl in January, a 35-21 victory over Utah. That was Sutherland’s 58th and final game as a Nittany Lion and his 32nd game wearing jersey number 0.
Now Sutherland may end up going from 0 to number one. The hope is to be selected in the later rounds of the NFL Draft this week or be signed somewhere in the league as a free agent. But next week (May 2nd) at the CFL Draft, even though he’s ranked 8th in Canada, he’s seen as a player who has a chance to go number one overall in the Canadian draft to his hometown REDBLACKS.
So if he ends up here in the CFL, maybe he could keep wearing the 0. Because it sure looks a lot like an “O” for Ottawa.