While playing in the frigid temperatures of the Canadian Football League, the thought of becoming NFL stars had to have been the farthest thing from the minds of Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner.
Both Wake and Browner had been largely overlooked as undrafted free agents coming out of college. Browner got a brief look from the Denver Broncos before heading north to play for the Calgary Stampeders. Wake was out of football for two years before getting a tryout with the B.C. Lions.
Their success in Canada led both to finally get a chance in the NFL and taking full advantage of the opportunities. Now both having become Pro Bowlers, the two will meet on the field for the first time since their days in the CFL Sunday as the Seahawks travel to Miami to play the Dolphins.
Wake is having arguably the most productive all-around season by a defensive end in the NFL this season. His 9.5 sacks is the best in the league by a 4-3 defensive end with 34 tackles and a forced fumble to go along with it.
Browner has three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 37 tackles this year for the Seahawks.
With the successes of Browner and Wake making the transition from the CFL, it’s only logical to wonder how many other players the NFL has missed on that are now playing in Canada. Both Browner and Wake feel there are many players in Canada also capable of making the jump to the NFL if given the opportunity.
“There are a lot of guys up there who could play the game, who could definitely make it down here, but a lot of guys aren’t getting the opportunity,” Wake said in a conference call Wednesday. “I’m just grateful and blessed that I was, and I had to make the most of it.”
According to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, Browner knows there are other players that have the talent to play in the NFL that haven’t received that chance.
“Guys that played with us, and who know us personally, feel they can be here,” Browner said. “And I personally feel there’s a lot of guys up there that can play here.”
Maybe the success of Browner and Wake forces teams to take a closer look at some of the talent playing north of the border. With as competitive as scouting can be in the lead up to the draft and the large money thrown to free agents in the NFL, it might be possible for teams to find a bargain in an unexpected place.