Photo courtesy: McGill University Athletics & Recreation
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif planned to celebrate being drafted at a bar in Montreal with friends and family while watching the Montreal Canadiens. Turns out he wasn’t celebrate as much as he thought.
The offensive lineman from McGill University was picked in the sixth round by the Kansas City Chiefs and will be flying there on Sunday morning for an orientation camp.
“The mentality of the Chiefs is that they don’t want to wait,” he said on a conference call adding that he was told to be ready to practice as early as Monday.
Some scouting reports, like NFL.com, said that he could be taken as early as the third or fourth rounds but an update from his agent on Friday said to expect to be taken closer to the fifth round. He said he wasn’t worried as the end of the sixth round approached with only calls from two teams to get information.
“It’s a long time to wait but at the same time I was saying to myself, ‘There’s not much financial advantage to being drafted at that point, it’s more to get a good fit with a team.'”
“When I went to Kansas City I really enjoyed my time there and think I developed a good chemistry with the coaches so I was really happy the Chiefs got me.”
Duvernay-Tardif got the call a few minutes before he was officially selected, speaking to everyone from General Manager John Dorsey to head coach Andy Reid, the offensive coordinator and both offensive line coaches.
“At one point one of the coaches just told me ‘OK, we just sent your name up and it will be [announced] in 10 seconds’… To see my name pop up [on the screen]… was a great moment.”
The St-Hilaire, Quebec native said there was so much excitement that he didn’t even notice that the NFL Network spelled his name wrong, adding that he only heard about it when someone else told him.
He said that he is excited to get to know the city as – even though he went there on a pre-draft visit – he hasn’t really seen the city. He mentioned that the Chiefs were one of the only teams to try to get to know him personally asking, among other things, how he intended to balance the year remaining in his medical school with being a professional athlete.
Jean-Philippe Darche, another McGill alum, spent two years with the Kansas City Chiefs and actually graduates from the University of Kansas next week from medical school. Duvernay-Tardif hopes to speak to Darche about being a Chief, and how to balance his schooling.
The biggest adjustment from Canadian football to American rules is the time at the line of scrimmage. In Canadian football, there is at least one yard of separation between the offensive line and defensive line. That buffer doesn’t exist in the NFL.
“I think that I am physical enough [to play in the NFL] and athletic enough,” he said. “For me, the big thing is to get used to new pass-rushers and the speed of the tackles. My technique right now is pretty basic, so I’m going to have to polish that a lot and think that will be my biggest adjustment.”
He added that he needed to get used to it at the Shrine Game and after one practice he had already adjusted.
Duvernay-Tardif is actually the second player from a Montreal university to start his NFL journey with the Chiefs in the last four years. Concordia linebacker Cory Greenwood was signed by the Chiefs in 2010. Greenwood is now on the roster of the Detroit Lions.