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The top Canadian NFL players of 2021

  • Published date23 May 2022  
  • AuthorStaff Writer

The NFL Regular Season came to an end in February and once again, players from all over the USA and the world showcased their abilities on the gridiron. With this in mind, SlotsOnlineCanada.com decided to analyse and rank which Canadian players had the strongest regular seasons in 2021.

1. Jevon Holland - S - Miami Dolphins - PFF Grade - 84.6

Jevon H
Jevon Holland showed no signs of rust

Despite opting out of his last year at Oregon, Dolphins Safety Jevon Holland showed no signs of rust in his outstanding rookie season. Holland was selected at the top of the second round and contributed on defence right away.

PFF gave Holland a score of 84.6 for his 2021 season which put him third amongst rookies, trailing only Creed Humphrey and Micah Parsons. The 21-year-old was a stalwart of the Phins D, playing in all but one game and being on the field for 84% of defensive snaps in the games he played in.

The talented safety made plays at all levels, racking up three tackles for losses, three fumble recoveries, eight QB pressures, 69 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. Holland was just as effective at dropping back into coverage with two picks and 10 passes defended.

Despite opting out of his last year at Oregon, Dolphins Safety Jevon Holland showed no signs of rust in his outstanding rookie season. Holland was selected at the top of the second round and contributed on defence right away.

In addition to these impressive numbers, Holland was named in the Pro Football Writers of America NFL All-Rookie Team of 2021.

With Holland already establishing himself as a top safety in the league, his position as the best Canadian player in the NFL in 2021 was a no brainer.

Key Stat: Holland’s 84.6 PFF grade is the third-best at his position, behind only Kevin Byard of the Tennessee Titans and Antoine Winfield Jr. of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2. Chase Claypool - WR - Pittsburgh Steelers - PFF Grade - 67.7

Chase Steelers
In 2020, Chase Claypool exploded onto the scene with an impressive nine touchdown season

In 2020, Chase Claypool exploded onto the scene with an impressive nine touchdown rookie season and Claypool’s production was still solid in his sophomore year.

With JuJu Smith-Schuster missing most of the season through injury, Claypool’s role in the offence increased with him playing in 80% of offensive snaps in games he was active in, and being targeted over 100 times. The former Notre Dame wideout accumulated an impressive 860 receiving yards and also contributed 96 yards on the ground - with 7 of Claypool’s 14 rushing attempts resulting in a first down.

Despite scoring seven less TDs this year than in his rookie year, Claypool’s showing in 2021 was still strong and at 23 years old he’s only likely to get better.

Key Stat: Claypool showed his explosive skills with an average of 14.6 yards per reception in 2021 - enough to put him top 20 in the league.

3. Alex Singleton - LB - Philadelphia Eagles - PFF Grade - 52.3

Alex Singleton
Singleton played in 16 games in 2021

American-Canadian dual citizen Alex Singleton enjoyed a good year in 2021, reaching a career high in combined tackles while also making plays all over the field.

Singleton played in 16 games in 2021 and started in half of these. His versatility will appeal to potential free agent suitors - the 28-year-old restricted free agent to be played in 68% of defensive snaps and also featured in over half of special teams snaps in games he was active in.

The Eagles linebacker returned his only pick of the season for a 29-yard touchdown and he had 4 passes defended as well.

Key Stat: Singleton recorded 137 combined tackles in the 2021 regular season which was tied with stars such as Fred Warner and Deion Jones, and more than first team All Pro Darius Leonard (122).

4. Chuba Hubbard - RB - Carolina Panthers - PFF Grade - 64.9

Chuba Hubbard
PFF rewarded him with a grade of 64.9

With Christian McCaffrey on the roster, the Panthers may have raised a few eyebrows when they selected Chuba Hubbard in the fourth round of last year’s draft.

However with CMC missing most of the season through injury, Carolina’s decision to take Hubbard was justified. The former Oklahoma State star repaid the Panthers’ faith in him by doing a respectable job filling in for one of the best players in the NFL.

It’s said that “availability is the best ability” and the Edmonton, Alberta native played in all 17 regular season games, finding the end zone a total of six times. Hubbard’s 612 rushing yards were enough to put him fifth amongst all rookies and PFF rewarded him with a grade of 64.9.

Key Stat: Hubbard’s five TDs on the ground were enough to put him joint second amongst rookies - only Najee Harris had more (7).

5. Josh Palmer - WR - Los Angeles Chargers - PFF Grade - 62.6

Josh Palmer
Palmer’s role in the offence grew as the season progressed

With star receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both missing games at some point in the season, rookie third-rounder Josh Palmer saw increased opportunities to see the field.

Palmer’s role in the offence grew as the season progressed and he ended up playing over 450 offensive snaps for the Chargers. Palmer’s reliability was a big reason why QB Justin Herbert seemed to trust the young wide receiver, the 22-year-old hauled in 67.3% of his 49 total targets and only dropped the ball once.

Key Stat: Palmer chipped in with 4 receiving touchdowns in his rookie year, which was 8th overall amongst rookies.

6. David Onyemata - DL - New Orleans Saints - PFF Grade - 81.9

David Onyemata
The Nigerian-Canadian interior D Lineman played in over 60% of defensive snaps

After returning from a six-game suspension, David Onyemata didn’t look like he missed a step when he slotted back into the Saints defensive front.

The Nigerian-Canadian interior D Lineman played in over 60% of defensive snaps in the 11 games he was active in and managed to accumulate 16 QB pressures, two sacks, 34 combined tackles and one fumble recovery.

Key Stat: Onyemata’s overall PFF grade of 81.9 is the second highest out of players on this list.

7. Tevaughn Campbell - DB - Los Angeles Chargers - PFF Grade - 56.9

Tevaughn Campbell
Campbell jumped up to 62% snaps in 2021

Joining Palmer in these rankings is his Chargers teammate Tevaughn Campbell.

In 2020, Campbell played 36% of snaps in games that he was active in and this jumped up to 62% in 2021. These snap numbers highlight the jump Campbell has made in his short time in the league and his overall production was also solid.

Campbell only allowed one touchdown in coverage all season and had four passes defended. The 28-year-old showcased some of his playmaking ability this year too, forcing two fumbles and recovering a Joe Mixon fumble before taking it 61 yards back to the house.

The cornerback also helped out with a combined 40 tackles, which was nearly double his 2020 amount, however he did miss 8 tackles which hindered his chances of being higher on this list.

Key Stat: Campbell’s 61-yard scoop and score against the Bengals was enough to put him third overall in fumble return yards in 2021.

8. Christian Covington - DL - Los Angeles Chargers - PFF Grade - 55.9

Christian Covington
Christian has over 50 combined tackles!

Vancouver native Christian Covington has been a reliable piece on D lines since he fought his way onto the Texans roster in 2015. While his numbers may not jump off the screen, 2021 was another decent season for Covington.

The former Rice player had over 50 combined tackles and three of these were behind the line of scrimmage. Covington also made some plays with a sack and one forced fumble to his name this season and in addition to this he was on the field for nearly half of the total defensive snaps in games he was active in.

Key Stat: Covington only missed three tackles in the 2021 season. The only time Covington bettered this number was in his rookie season when he saw the field a lot less.

9. N'Keal Harry - WR - New England Patriots - PFF Grade - 69.1

Nkeal Harry
In 2021, PFF gave N'Keal Harry an impressive score of 69.1

When the then defending champion New England Patriots selected N’Keal Harry 32nd overall in 2019, it was expected that Harry would become the explosive outside threat that the Pats were lacking in recent years.

While this may not have worked out for both sides, Harry, who was born in Toronto, has shown some flashes of the talent that made him a first-round talent.

In 2021, PFF gave him an impressive score of 69.1 and Harry also helped his cause by averaging a whopping 15.3 yards per reception. Despite a lack of volume in the passing game, Harry did prove his value in the run game as he showcased some of the better blocking skills amongst wide receivers.

Key Stat: Harry had more yards per reception (15.3) than stars such as Mike Evans, Justin Jefferson and Kyle Pitts.

Honourable Mentions

Benjamin St-Juste - DB - Washington Football Team

  • PFF Grade - 53.7
  • Combined Tackles - 26
  • Passes Defended - 3
  • Defensive Snaps - 318 (55%)
  • Tackle for Loss - 1

Antony Auclair - TE - Houston Texans

  • PFF Grade - 56.6
  • Games Played - 16
  • Targets - 5
  • Receptions - 5
  • Receiving Touchdowns - 1
  • Receiving Yards - 47
  • Total Snaps - 471 (Offence and Special Teams)

Amen Ogbongbemiga - LB/ST - Los Angeles Chargers

  • PFF Grade - 33.3
  • Combined Tackles - 26
  • Special Teams Snaps - 260 (65%)
  • Sacks - 1
  • QB Pressures - 2
  • Tackle for Loss - 2

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif - OL - Kansas City Chiefs/New York Jets

  • PFF Grade - 54.2
  • Games Played - 8
  • Offensive Snaps - 79%
  • Sacks Allowed - 1

Nathan Shepherd - DL - New York Jets

  • PFF Grade - 50.8
  • Combined Tackles - 28 (career high)
  • Games - 17
  • QB Pressures - 12
  • Defensive Snaps - 495 (42%)

Nathan Shepherd - DL - New York Jets

  • PFF Grade - 50.8
  • Combined Tackles - 28 (career high)
  • Games - 17
  • QB Pressures - 12
  • Defensive Snaps - 495 (42%)

Neville Gallimore - DL - Dallas Cowboys

  • PFF Grade - 49.6
  • Sacks - 1.5
  • Combined Tackles - 13
  • Defensive Snaps - 164 (48%)
  • QB Pressures - 3
  • Tackle for Loss - 3

Alaric Jackson - OL - Los Angeles Rams

  • PFF Grade - 70.2
  • Snaps - 61 (23%)
  • Games - 4
  • Sacks Allowed - 1

Usefull Tips Note!

These rankings were based purely on play during the 2021 season. Performances from previous seasons were not considered. Stats were acquired from Pro Football Reference and grades were acquired from Pro Football Focus.

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