INDIANAPOLIS | “We Canadian players are everywhere now. We’re invading the NFL!” Jesse proudly launched Luketa during his meeting with the media on Friday at the Combine in Indianapolis.
The Ottawa player has been a bit fat for the sake of show, but when I think about it, whoever plays both a linebacker and a defensive end isn’t entirely wrong.
Since 2011, at least one Canadian player has been called up every year. In total, 21 players from across the country joined the Goodell circuit during this period, not counting those who made their way as free players.
“It’s good that we’re finally in the spotlight in Canada. There is a lot of talent and we are finally starting to have the same opportunities as everyone else. It’s cool because between Canadian players we’re a close group,” he said.
Born in Ottawa to a mother who immigrated from Congo, Luketa is ranked as the top candidate for the Canadian League Draft, but it is clear in the NFL that he will start his professional career next season.
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NFL Network concept analyst Daniel Jeremiah told the Combine during a conference call that he considers Luketa a third-round pick.
“He’s a very versatile player. It’s about talking to the coaches in the league to see that the current trend is towards players without a defined position. He can do a lot, especially after the quarterback,” he said.
Not so long ago there was a time when a player without apparent position sowed doubt. Today, the emergence of several hybrid linebackers makes a player like Luketa even more attractive.
“I see myself as part of a chess game,” Luketa illustrated during his media session.
“It becomes difficult for an attack to set up a game plan against such dynamic players, who can add more than one facet to their game. This is where our sport is going and in Jesse Luketa a team is not given a specific position, but a footballer who can accomplish many things,” continued Mr. Jeremiah.
In four seasons at Penn State, Luketa amassed 151 tackles, including 11.5 for losses, in addition to knocking down six assists. With the departure of Micah Parsons, who quickly distinguished himself with the Cowboys in the NFL by usurping the Defensive Rookie of the Year title, Luketa took up more space. He even scored a touchdown on an interception return.
In the recent Senior Bowl, he had a chance to demonstrate his potential to chase the quarterback and didn’t miss his chance to get noticed, taking two sacks.
“I feel comfortable playing as a defensive end or linebacker, whether it’s indoors or out. It’s certain that in order to reach my full potential, I see myself mostly outdoors,” said the hefty one-year-old. 80m and 261lb.
“Ultimately, I’m a defensive player. My only goal is to become the most disruptive player on the field.”
Kayvon Thibodeaux sets the record straight
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INDIANAPOLIS | For many months, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux was considered the potential first overall pick in the draft. Since then, some have questioned his dedication to his sport and believe he could slip.
The University of Oregon quarterback fighter set the record on his turn at the mic at the Combine.
On the pitch, Thibodeaux’s productivity leaves no one indifferent. In 30 games spanning three seasons, he shone with 19 quarterback sacks and 35.5 tackles for a loss.
However, rumors that his work ethic may be lacking are growing insistent. As the season progressed, it was Michigan defenseman Aiden Hutchinson who rose to the rank of potential first defensive player to be selected.
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“I don’t think I had to convince the teams during my interviews, but that’s the story in the media. If you knew all the adversity I’ve been through and the things I’ve had to sacrifice, everyone would really understand what was going on in my heart handles.
“If you question the fire in me, my passion, I get emotional just thinking about it. I know everything I needed to get to this level,” he said.
Interview with the Giants
While he said teams have not questioned his passion, Thibodeaux cited his interview with the Giants, who have fifth overall pick, as an example.
“It was a good interview, but they were very hard on me. They wanted to know how I would react in a big market like New York if I’m not a big star after five games, I don’t have a quarterback sack and everyone is on my back.
“I’ve been in the media since I was in high school. I am trained to live in such situations. I just think interviews like this are a bit like a big brother who loves me and wants me well, but pushes me hard,” he said.
Thibodeaux said he models his game around veteran NFL players like Von Miller and Jadeveon Clowney.
“With someone smart like me, there are so many positives that people have to look for the negatives. I don’t care. I’m a real football student and I love the game†
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