CFL Draft Primer

Posted Apr 29, 2008

Part science, part crapshoot, the CFL Canadian Draft is a major departure from the NFL draft. Here's a quick breakdown of the differences and some names to look out for on April 30.

Growing up in the U.S., I've been conditioned to think of the college draft as a matter of following one of two strategies—choosing players for need or choosing the best available players on the draft board.


Preparing mock drafts for the NFL draft according to these principles is relatively easy since tons of information is available. Between draft pundits like Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock, or Mike Detillier and professional scouting services like Scouts, Inc., every football fan can study his team's roster for holes and make sound predictions.


The CFL draft is a different animal entirely.


First, there are three times the number of players realistically eligible for the CFL draft as opposed to the players genuinely considered by NFL teams. These Canadian players are spread all over North America, playing at a wide variety of levels and against an even wider variety of opponents in the CIS and NCAA.


Second, because many picks in the CFL draft involve players with eligibility remaining, need must be calculated  on a "future" basis and against a gamble that the player may never join the team, or might do so years in the future. It takes a crystal ball to make those gambles pay off regularly.


 And third, the paucity of film analysis and scouting data on many of the eligible players is pretty pronounced, making the job done by CFL general managers and scouting departments a truly amazing feat.


Like anything really difficult to collect, the information gathered by CFL teams on their favourite draft prospects is never freely distributed, and that makes predicting how the CFL draft will run down nearly impossible.


No amount of roster-need analysis can predict what players a given CFL team is eyeing, and no amount of personal scouting could build a very accurate draft board ranked by talent.  That's why my hat is off to's Duane Forde for his Canadian draft experitise.  There just aren't enough minutes in the day to do as a good a job as he does predicting where the CFL draft is headed.


So, what direction will the draft go on April 30?


Last season, I studied my tail off looking at available talent for the picks. Everything in my research led me to believe teams would dig into a deep class of receivers. They went heavy instead, focusing on lineman for both sides of the ball.


This year, I'm taking the sage advice of one of my personal CFL football gurus, Alouettes' cheerleader Liz V., "If there’s a guy that shows potential, if there’s a guy who shows heart, determination and appreciation for the game both as a sport and as a business, this is the type of guy I would want on my team. That’s what I’d look for in the draft."


Here's my list of the top 10 players fitting that bill:


1) Dylan Barker, DB, Saskatchewan

2) Nicolas Carriere, DE, McGill

3) Shea Emry, LB, British Columbia

4) Samuel Giguere, WR, Sherbrooke

5) Brendan LaBatte, OL, Regina

6) Rolly Lumbala, FB, Idaho

7) Jerome Messam, RB, Graceland

8) Jesse Newman, OL, Louisiana-Lafayette

9) Sammy Okpro, DB, Concordia

10) Dmitri Tsoumpas. OL, Weber St.


Get your popcorn ready to see where they'll go on April 30.

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