Was Jesse Luketa’s wait difficult on the last day of the NFL Draft? A nearly seven-hour wait?
On Wednesday morning, four days after the Arizona Cardinals chose him with the seventh last pick of the NFL Draft, 256th overall, Luketa shared his draft-day experience.
The Edmonton-born, Ottawa-raised pass rusher spent last Saturday with family and friends in Ottawa. He’s now briefly back at Penn State University, where he played his college ball, before heading out to Phoenix for the Cardinals’ rookie mini-camp (May 13-15), followed by full-team OTA practices (May 23 to June 9) and mandatory mini-camp (June 14-16).
The 23-year-old Luketa was one of three Canadians selected in the NFL Draft — after University of Alabama wide receiver John Metchie III (Brampton, Ont.) in Round 2, 44th overall, by the Houston Texans, and former University of Calgary Dinos cornerback Deane Leonard (who completed his college ball at Ole Miss) in Round 7, 236th overall, by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Luketa had been graded by most draft experts as an early selection on Day 3 (Saturday), meaning in Round 4 or 5. As it was, he and his mom Rose plus his two older brothers and five older sisters had to wait nearly seven hours to get that coveted cellphone call from his NFL selector.
Here’s an edited portion of his interview with Postmedia:
Can you walk me through how Saturday went for you?
Luketa: “It was … a little bit stressful. But at the same time, I just kept reminding myself to remain grounded. My moment was going to come. But yeah, being there with my family, my Mom, all my loved ones, it was great. Because I was fortunate enough to be able to bring my family all together. That was a bonus for me.
“But as far as waiting for the draft, just sitting there, watching, anticipating, I was just anxious more than anything. I sat there for seven hours.”
How did you find out? Did you see your name on TV, or get a call first from the Cardinals?
Luketa: “I received a call from the Cardinals GM (Steve Keim). I was ecstatic. They told me they were going to draft me, and that they were excited to have me a part of their organization. I told them, ‘Let’s do it!’ And that they wouldn’t regret this decision. I’m just so excited. I can’t wait to head out to Arizona and get to work.”
Did you talk to coaches too?
Luketa: “Yes sir. I was able to talk to (head coach) Kliff Kingsbury and (defensive coordinator Vance Joseph). We spoke briefly. I told my outside linebackers coach (Charlie Bullen) I can’t wait to get my playbook. Ever since then I’ve been able to dial in, get my new playbook, and familiarize myself with the new verbiage and what-not.”
Did you know much about the Cardinals?
Luketa: “Absolutely. I’m a football guru — a junkie — so I just love watching all football. I was fortunate to study (defensive end) J.J. Watt a little bit when he was out there and healthy. And watching guys like (versatile linebacker) Isaiah Simmons. One of my favourite football players already was (safety) Budda Baker. He’s high-motor, always moving, making big-time plays. He’s a guy they can count on to make plays in crunch time. I’m ecstatic to be surrounded by those type of guys, and ultimately earn their respect, and show them that I can be accountable, and they can depend on me.”
I take it your phone just blew up all Saturday night and Sunday, with friends congratulating you?
Luketa: “My phone was just insane, man.”
Germany’s first NFL game in Munich
Germany is getting an NFL game.
The league made it official Wednesday morning with its annual announcement International Series games.
There will be five games staged outside the United States in the 2022 regular season. Three will be in London, one in Mexico City and — for the first time — Germany is getting one, too.
The first four International Series games will be on a Sunday, each with morning kickoffs in North America, while the last will be a Monday-nighter:
- In London, England (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium) on Oct. 2, with 9:30 a.m. EDT kickoff: Minnesota ‘at’ New Orleans.
- In London, England (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium) on Oct. 9, with 9:30 a.m. EDT kickoff: New York Giants ‘at’ Green Bay.
- In London, England (Wembley Stadium) on Oct. 30, with 9:30 a.m. EDT kickoff: Denver ‘at’ Jacksonville.
- In Munich, Germany (Allianz Arena, home of FC Bayern Munich) on Nov. 13, with 9:30 a.m. EST kickoff: Seattle ‘at’ Tampa Bay.
- In Mexico City, Mexico (Estadio Azteca) on Nov. 21, with 8:15 p.m. EST kickoff: San Francisco ‘at’ Arizona.
The league said last year it will consider Canada for an International Series game some time in the future, in a worthy stadium.
Hey, as long as it’s not another ridiculously priced preseason game, that’d be awesome. And way, way overdue.
The NFL is announcing the entire 2022 regular-season schedule at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 12.
John Kryk now writes a weekly newsletter on NFL matters. Content is exclusive to that platform. You can have it automatically dropped into your email inbox on Wednesdays simply by signing up — for free — at https://torontosun.com/newsletters/