After having to sit through the entire opening round of the NFL draft without hearing his name, Canadian Jevon Holland didn't have to wait long to get the call Friday night.
The Miami Dolphins selected Holland with the fourth pick of the second round, No. 36 overall. That gave the native of Coquitlam, B.C., the distinction of being the first Canadian drafted.
"Last night, I was a little tossing and turning but I had a good night sleep," Holland said during a Dolphins zoom call. "I woke up (Friday) morning and went and worked out, then I sat down and was ready (to hear) my name called.
"I'm blessed the Miami Dolphins, coach (Brian) Flores called my name."
Two Canadians were taken in the third round.
The Washington Football Team took Minnesota cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, a Montreal native, No. 74 overall. Then three selections later, the L.A. Chargers took Tennessee receiver Josh Palmer, of Brampton, Ont., at No. 77 overall.
As an early second-round selection, Holland can expect to sign a four-year deal roughly worth US$8.7 million with a signing bonus of about $3.7 million.
But Holland was surprised to be taken by the Dolphins.
"I'm overjoyed," he said. "No, I didn't have any idea."
More Canadians are expected to follow. Another three have garnered much NFL interest and if all six are indeed drafted that would be the most ever as the record currently stands at four Canucks set in 2014.
"I love being able to represent the Canadian people," Holland said. "I'm blessed to be in this position representing that many people.
"I'm just honoured to be here, just overjoyed."
Holland joins a Miami club that finished second in the AFC East last year with a 10-6 record.
Holland was the second defensive back taken in the second round, but first safety in the draft. Five cornerbacks were selected in the opening round Thursday night.
Holland, a six-foot, 207-pound junior, opted out of the 2020 season at Oregon to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. Holland said many teams asked him about that decision and he didn't shy away from answering their queries.
"Everybody wanted to know and so I was honest about it," he said. "That's the only thing I could be and we just went from there."
Holland registered 66 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss, and four interceptions in 14 games for Oregon in 2019. He appeared in 27 career contests with the Ducks, accumulating 108 tackles and nine interceptions.
Holland said seeing action as a receiver in high school helped him develop his defensive ball skills.
"I feel like I have a good sense of how the ball trajectory is going to be in the sky and things like that," he said. "I definitely think that added to my ball skills and ball-hawking ability."
At Oregon's pro day, Holland posted 40-yard dash times of 4.46 and 4.48 seconds. He also registered a 35.5-inch vertical jump, a stellar broad jump of 10 feet six inches and 19 reps in the 225-pound bench press.
Holland also offers versatility in that he can also play cornerback and return punts.
On Thursday, Miami selected Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle with the sixth-overall pick. In addition to being a dynamic pass catcher, Waddle was also a dangerous returner for the national-champion Tide.
"Jaylen, that's my home boy, he's a hell of a player," Holland said. "I'm excited to be a Dolphin with him.
"I'm just looking to be on the field with him and all my other teammates. Whatever the coaches want, man, I'm down to do."
Holland was invited to this year's NFL combine, but the league eliminated in-person workouts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Holland comes by his football prowess honestly. His father, John, was a defensive back in both the NFL (San Francisco 1992-93) and CFL (1990, 1993-97 with B.C., Edmonton and Saskatchewan).
"My dad and brother both played football," Holland said. "It's really just me trying to follow in their footsteps.
"And then . . . kind of adapting a passion for myself and I ended up falling in love more with the game at that point."
Holland was among 45 players who confirmed to participate virtually in the draft.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2021.