The 2023 NFL season is in full swing. Nine weeks of gridiron football have produced a surplus of intriguing storylines, the usual laundry list of player injuries, and frequent sightings of pop icon Taylor Swift at Arrowhead Stadium — a weekly celebrity appearance that seems to be garnering more attention than the performances of reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes and Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs.
As a Canadian, you may be wondering: are there any players from Canada suiting up for an NFL squad this year? Athletes representing the Great White North are hard to come by in pro football. However, they are making strides. This past April, five Canadians were selected in the 2023 NFL draft, topping the previous record mark of four in 2021.
So, as the NFL season continues to unfold down south, here are a few Canadians to keep an eye on.
Chase Claypool: Catching waves with the Miami Dolphins
It’s been a tough start to the year for wide receiver Chase Claypool, from Abbotsford, British Columbia. After putting up more than 850 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the second-round pick out of the University of Notre Dame struggled to retain his outstanding form with the Chicago Bears and has since been shipped to American Football Conference juggernauts, the Miami Dolphins.
Given that ‘The Phins’ already have two-star studded receivers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Claypool will likely sit on the lower end of the depth chart in Mike McDaniel’s high-powered offense. Hopefully, in the future, he can find his footing in South Florida and become one more weapon in the Dolphin’s loaded receiving corps.
Jevon Holland: Safeguarding Miami’s defense with fins and finesse
Another Canadian rocking the aqua, orange, and white in 2023 is safety Jevon Holland. The second-round pick out of Coquitlam, British Columbia and the University of Oregon recorded two interceptions each in 2021 and 2022 for Miami and has slowly emerged as one of the best players in his position.
Now that the Dolphins appear to be Super Bowl contenders for the first time in over 30 years, Holland will need to play an integral role on the defensive front for the remainder of the season if Miami hopes to secure their third-ever Lombardi Trophy.
Joshua Palmer: Electrifying the Los Angeles Chargers’ offense with precision and speed
The 2021 third-round pick filled the shoes of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams last season when the pair missed significant time due to injury. Brampton, Ontario native Joshua Palmer converted 107 targets into 72 catches, 769 receiving yards, and three touchdowns and is currently on track to surpass his personal best in the yards department this season.
However, despite having an MVP-calibre quarterback with Justin Herbert playing in the pocket, the Los Angeles Chargers have yet to establish themselves as legitimate Super Bowl hopefuls in 2023. Still, they remain an entertaining group to watch on the offensive side of the ball, with Palmer lining up in the slot position.
Chuba Hubbard: Roaring downfield for the woeful Carolina Panthers
The former Oklahoma State University running back, who rushed for over 2,000 yards in his sophomore year, spent his first two seasons in the league playing second fiddle to superstar running back and two-time NFL Pro Bowler Christian McCaffrey for the Carolina Panthers. But ever since McCaffrey was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in October 2022, Chuba Hubbard, from Sherwood Park, Alberta, has stepped up for the Panthers and shown signs of potential as a rusher and pass-catcher.
The Panthers sit in the basement of the National Football Conference South division in 2023 and are currently undergoing an identity change with rookie quarterback Bryce Young and new head coach Frank Reich leading the way. They’re likely to miss out on a playoff spot for a sixth straight time. However, if Hubbard continues to impress with the struggling Panthers, we could see him operating in the backfield for a team that’s a significant contender sooner rather than later.