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Covington likely first Canadian to go in NFL draft

John Kryk

By John Kryk, Toronto Sun

Canadian Christian Covington might be the only Canadian taken in the NFL draft, which starts Thursday in Chicago. (JOHN KRYK/Postmedia Network)

Canadian Christian Covington might be the only Canadian taken in the NFL draft, which starts Thursday in Chicago. (JOHN KRYK/Postmedia Network)


Only one Canadian seems a lock to be selected in this year’s NFL draft, which goes here Thursday to Saturday.

That’s Christian Coral Cleveland Covington, a quick, feisty defensive tackle from Vancouver who played college ball at Rice University in Houston.

Both ESPN and CBS Sports (via its website) rank Covington — the son of CFL Hall of Famer Grover Covington — as the No. 12 defensive tackle in this draft. The latter has him as the 117th best prospect overall, with a third-to-fourth round grade.

“I’m hearing third round, fourth round, possibly late second,” Covington said Tuesday in a phone interview from Vancouver, where he’ll watch the draft on TV and await The Call with his parents and family.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls the last two weeks now from NFL teams, asking for my draft-day phone numbers.”

Covington, 21, was an at-times dominant force on Rice’s interior defensive line. He’s fast for his position, and powerful.

The 6-foot-2 3/8, 289-pounder opted to enter the draft in January with a year of eligibility remaining, which surprised some draftniks because he missed the last month of the Owls’ season after dislocating his left knee cap.

The injury prevented Covington from working out at the NFL scouting combine in February. But he rocked it at his pro day in March.

Once healthy again, Covington worked out privately for four teams — the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Bucs, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings — and a fifth, the Arizona Cardinals, had to cancel its private workout with him because of a coach’s family emergency.

Covington visited just one team, an AFC team, which asked him to keep its identity private.

Last Friday, the CFL’s scouting bureau elevated Covington to its No. 1 prospect for its draft, May 12.

“It’s an honour to be on that list, and to be recognized like that,” Covington said. “It’s an accomplishment that not many people can say they’ve achieved.

“If the CFL ever becomes an option for me in the future, I’d be honoured to take that route.”

Doesn’t sound like it’ll be any time soon, though.


DOLPHIN SUSPENDED FOR 2015: We might have a leader for Biggest Draft Bust of the 2010s: troubled, ineffective Miami Dolphins edge rusher Dion Jordan. The NFL suspended him for the entire 2015 season Tuesday, after his third violation since July of the league’s drug policy. He was twice suspended for four games last season, and was invisible when he did play. His latest suspension came after he reportedly provided a diluted urine sample, in a failed attempt to beat a mandatory drug test. The Dolphins traded up to pick Jordan No. 3 overall two years ago. He has three sacks in 26 games, and his days in Miami might be done.


JETS FINED $100K: The NFL usually cracks down hard on blatant acts of tampering, and did so Tuesday, fining the New York Jets $100,000 after owner Woody Johnson stupidly said at a December news conference that he’d love to have star cornerback Darrelle Revis back, when his team, the New England Patriots, hadn’t even played their first playoff game. Revis indeed re-signed with the Jets in March.


BILLS MEETING PETTY: Baylor’s Bryce Petty, maybe the top quarterback in the draft after Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, told a Texas radio station he was scheduled to meet Tuesday night with Buffalo Bills representatives. Petty is not seen as a first-round talent, and the Bills don’t have a first-round pick. Their first is 50th overall, about midway through the second round on Friday night.

I wrote last week that the Bills have only one glaring position of need, and that’s at quarterback, so they should bolster that position as best they can by using that 50th overall pick on the best passer available.

The meeting, however, might just be a smokescreen.


ANOTHER NO-SHOW?: With neither Winston nor Mariota going to the draft (so they can be with family at home), yet another invited top prospect isn’t attending either, apparently. Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former Dallas Cowboys executive and the “Godfather” of the draft, Gil Brandt, said defensive tackle Arik Armstead of Oregon is backing out because his father wanted a guarantee his son would be chosen in the first round. Eesh.


TOP TACKLE, TROUBLE?: A likely first-round pick, and many draftniks’ No. 1 rated offensive tackle, La’el Collins, was being pursued Tuesday by police in Baton Rouge, La., in a murder investigation.

He’s not a suspect but had some manner of relationship with a pregnant 29-year-old woman, who died Friday of multiple upper-body gunshot wounds.

Collins is scheduled to appear Wednesday morning at the NFL’s annual touch-football charity event for kids on the day before the draft, when invited players throw it around with girls and boys.


NO SPOILERS AGAIN: Once again this year, both NFL Network and ESPN vow not to reveal names of drafted players before commissioner Roger Goodell announces the selection, even though their reporters likely will get the news ahead of time. Fans hate the spoilers. ESPN’s Day 1 coverage Thursday will be shown in Canada by TSN.


EXTRA POINTS: Broncos QB Peyton Manning said he doesn’t look at this season as his farewell tour. We’ll see ... Bears RB Matt Forte has “set the record straight” on why he’s skipping this month’s voluntary conditioning sessions and on-field mini-camp practices. It’s not a contract holdout, he said, although he’d sure like an extension. Forte said he’ll take part in May practices and mandatory June mini-camp ... Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman reiterated his club has no intention to trade disgruntled, recently reinstated RB Adrian Peterson ... Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones said his team might not draft a running back until the third or fourth round. Sure, Jerry.


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