Canadian receiver Chase Claypool finally knows where his football future lies.
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected the former Notre Dame star in the second round (49th overall) of the NFL draft Friday night.
Claypool is the highest Canadian taken since 2011 when Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins, a native of Kelowna, B.C., went in the first round (No. 23 overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles and Toronto native Orlando Franklin was selected in the second round (No. 46 overall) by the Denver Broncos out of the University of Miami.
“There is no job too small. He will block. He volunteers for special teams. This guy is a football player. He has a lot of unique traits for the position. A lot of things to be really excited about. Gives you a potential red-zone threat. He is an outside position player first and gives you the option of playing in the slot as well.
“He wins an awful lot of one-on-ones. I have never seen him not win a one-on-one type play.”
Claypool, a six-foot-four, 238-pound native of Abbotsford, B.C., was Notre Dame’s leading receiver in 2019 with 66 catches for 1,037 yards and 13 TDs. He registered 150 career receptions for 2,159 yards and 19 touchdowns.
“This man is a touchdown machine that will do well with Ben Roethlisberger and that receiving group,” former NFL star receiver Michael Irvin said on ESPN’s draft telecast.
Claypool raised eyebrows at the NFL combine, covering the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds. He joined former Detroit star Calvin Johnson as the only receivers measuring six foot four and 235 pounds or bigger to run under 4.45 seconds at the combine.
Ottawa’s Neville Gallimore, a defensive tackle with the Oklahoma Sooners, was later drafted in the third round, 82nd overall, by the Dallas Cowboys.
The six-foot-two, 304-pound Gallimore had 30 tackles, four sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss last season. He appeared in 52 games — 38 as a starter — at Oklahoma, registering 148 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and five forced fumbles.
‘What a great pickup’
Both Claypool and Gallimore had been pegged as late first-round NFL picks in various mock drafts. They were also among 58 prospects who were invited to participate virtually in Thursday and Friday’s proceedings.
Draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Daniel Jeremiah saw both as Friday selections during the second and third rounds. The first round was Thursday and the draft wraps up Saturday.
The Steelers (8-8) missed the playoffs last year after finishing second in the AFC North. Veteran quarterback Roethlisberger, 38, missed most of the season with an elbow injury.
“What a great pickup with Ben Roethlisberger coming back to expand on that receiving group that they have,” Irvin said.
Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner also liked the selection.
“When you look at this team, they’re built around so many different things,” Warner said. “They’re good up front on defence, they’ve got the secondary, they’ve go the offensive line and so I love that they add another weapon on the outside.
“Some good, young receivers to build around JuJu Smith-Schuster. Big Ben is going to be happy. He gets healthy, I like where Pittsburgh is at.”
The addition of Claypool certainly gives Pittsburgh plenty of offensive options. He could combine with Jones-Schuster, James Washington and Diontae Johnson to give the Steelers four solid receivers on the field at one time.
Having Claypool and new tight end Eric Ebron (six foot four, 253 pounds) also gives the Steelers two big targets in the red zone, something they desperately need. Last year, Pittsburgh was last overall in red-zone TD production (35 per cent) and the NFL’s only team not to score 30 or more points in a game.
Claypool gives Pittsburgh versatility as he could play at either receiver or tight end. He also follows a trend for the Steelers, who took receivers in the second round in 2017 (Smith-Schuster) and ’18 (Washington) before selecting Johnson in the third round last year.
Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics
Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.
Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.
“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”
The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.
Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.
Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)
Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?
It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.
Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.
Welcome to Miami, Jevon Holland— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 30, 2021
Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?
Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.
The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.
A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.
He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.
The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.
When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.
Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.
The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.
Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.
The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.
It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.
With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.
Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.
Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.
Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.
He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.
Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.
“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.
“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.
(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)
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