Canadian Carter O’Donnell will begin his pro football career as an Indianapolis Colt.
The towering University of Alberta offensive lineman agreed to terms with the Colts on Saturday after being bypassed in the 2020 NFL draft. O’Donnell’s deal will reportedly include a significant US$25,000 signing bonus.
Other Canadians to secure free-agent deals include Montreal Carabins defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy (Green Bay Packers), Brown University defensive lineman Michael Hoecht (Los Angeles Rams) and Simon Fraser receiver Rysen John (New York Giants).
Two Canadians were drafted by NFL clubs, with both being taken Friday night. Notre Dame receiver Chase Claypool, a six-foot-four, 238-pound native of Abbotsford, B.C., went in the second round, No. 49 overall, to the Pittsburgh Steelers before the Dallas Cowboys took Ottawa’s Neville Gallimore, a six-foot-two, 304-pound defensive tackle from Oklahoma, in the third round, No. 82 overall.
Both Gallimore and Claypool were 1-2 in the CFL scouting bureau’s final top-20 list released last week leading up to draft, which is scheduled for Thursday. But they’ll be future picks given where they went in the NFL draft.
O’Donnell (third overall), Hoecht (No. 6), Dequoy (No. 9) and John (No. 18) were also on the scouting bureau’s list. However, with NFL deals in tow, the expectation is they’ll be later-round picks Thursday.
The six-foot-six, 315-pound O’Donnell, a native of Red Deer, Alta., anchored an offensive line that helped Alberta average 399 yards of total offence and 5.2 yards per rush this season. O’Donnell was a first-team All-Canadian and participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl in Florida.
Upon conclusion of the draft, six NFL teams contacted O’Donnell, giving him the unique ability to weigh offers and respective situations before deciding where to begin his pro football career.
The six-foot-four, 310-pound Hoecht, a native of Oakville, Ont., cracked the final scouting bureau top-20 list after being bypassed on the previous two additions. Hoecht registered 42 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and four sacks last season at Brown.
A former team captain, he appeared in 37 career games with the Bears, recording 174 tackles, 29.5 tackles for a loss, 16.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. And Hoecht wasted little time contributing to the program, playing in seven games as a freshman.
“He’s big, he’s athletic, disruptive,” said a CFL GM. “He does a lot of things well.
The six-foot-three, 195-pound Dequoy was a first-team All-Canadian last season. The Carabins star had 37 tackles and three interceptions and accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl.
Dequoy has posted a sparkling 40-yard dash time of 4.35 seconds last month at Montreal’s pro day.
John, a six-foot-seven, 227-pound Vancouver native, had 53 catches for 861 yards and 10 TDs last season with Simon Fraser.
Embarking on an NFL career as an undrafted free agent certainly isn’t easy but it’s not impossible, either. Among the UFAs to go on and enjoy successful pro tenures include Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (four Pro Bowls), Minnesota defensive lineman John Randle (137.5 sacks over 14 seasons, Pro Football Hall of Famer) and quarterback Warren Moon, who after five straight Grey Cups with the Edmonton Eskimos, played 17 NFL seasons and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.