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Canadian offensive tackle Danny Watkins was picked by Philadelphia in Thursday's NFL draft. ((Cody Duty/Associated Press) )

The Philadelphia Eagles selected Canadian offensive lineman Danny Watkins with the 23rd pick of the NFL draft Thursday in New York.

The 26-year-old Watkins is a former firefighter who took an unconventional route to the NFL. The native of Kelowna, B.C., has more experience as a firefighter (five years) than a football player (four) and played hockey and rugby in high school.

He was drafted fourth overall by the B.C. Lions in the 2010 CFL Draft, but instead played out his senior year at Baylor University.

Watkins, listed at six-foot-four and 312 pounds, played left tackle at Baylor, but projects as a guard in the pros. He could help an offensive line that allowed 49 sacks last season, despite the presence of Michael Vick.

Hockey personality Don Cherry, who has talked about Watkins before on his popular "Coach's Corner" segments on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, announced his selection during the second intermission of the playoff game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Nashville Predators. He gave Watkins his trademark thumbs-up and saying: "Way to go Danny Boy!"

Several firefighters from Kelowna were in attendance to see the Eagles select Watkins in person.