The 2019 Draft is in the books, the East-West Bowl has been played and training camp is underway, but for all the excitement about the season, the mind of a draftnik is always on next year. The CFL doesn’t release its first prospect ranking until September but here is a way too early list of top prospects. This isn’t a prospect ranking, the order of this list is rough and a million different things will alter it before next May. Players will drop off, players will come out of nowhere and Americans will gain citizenship. Regardless, here is 30 players who have caught my attention and are worth keeping an eye on next year.
Top 30 2020 CFL Draft Prospect Watchlist
1. Chase Claypool, REC, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The first born and raised Canadian to earn a scholarship to Notre Dame has made himself known both as a starting receiver and special teams’ contributor. He’ll likely be no more than a glimmer in CFL teams’ eyes however, as another strong season could get him in the conversation to be a Day 2 NFL Draft pick.
2. Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma Sooners
Gallimore is a brilliant run stuffer with enough athleticism to translate in the quicker CFL game, making him about as rare as a unicorn. The NFL won’t miss on that, especially from a high pedigree school, and he’ll almost certainly be an NFL Draft selection.
3. Patrice Rene, DB, North Carolina Tarheels
True Canadian cover men come around once in a blue moon and Rene is exactly what teams dream about. Rene has also likely done enough to get on the NFL radar and could be a late round pick.
4. Nathan Rourke, QB, Ohio Bobcats
With Canadian QBs counting towards the ratio, the dual-threat Rourke will be at a premium at draft time next year. The top Canadian in NCAA football for two years running, Rourke’s statistics as both a passer and runner are better than Michael Vick’s in college. He’ll likely be in an NFL camp next year but could be a CFL starter down the road.
5. Dejon Brissett, REC, Virginia Cavaliers
A standout at FCS school Richmond who would have been in the CFL first round conversation this year, Brissett utilized a medical redshirt and transferred to FBS Virginia. CFL scouts will be excited to see how he handles the jump in competition and if it puts him on the NFL radar.
6. Mason Bennett, DE, North Dakota Fighting Hawks
Bennett is a dynamic pass rusher at the FCS level who can really bend the edge. He could end up being a starting calibre defensive end in the CFL and will be highly valued going through the draft process.
7. Trivel Pinto, REC, UBC Thunderbirds
Pinto would have been in the conversation as one of the 2019 Draft’s top receivers but had his draft year deferred after testing positive for cocaine. The mistakes of a college kid shouldn’t scare teams too much however, especially when it’s a thousand-yard receiver with return ability and the versatility to play both sides of the ball in college.
8. Sage Doxtater, OL, New Mexico State Aggies
A mountainous man, Doxtater was the only draft eligible lineman to start every game in the NCAA last year. He needs to improve his bend and footwork in his senior season, but teams will have all eyes on a rare Canadian left tackle playing down south.
9. Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, OL, Buffalo Bulls
A road-grader who will be looked upon to be a full-time starter in his senior year. Jack-Kurdyla is the prototypical Canadian interior lineman, technically sound, physical and unlikely to garner much NFL interest despite his success.
10. Stavros Katsantonis, DB, UBC Thunderbirds
Katsantonis had a first-round grade in my evaluation before he had his draft year deferred for a PED violation. Regardless of off the field mistakes, Katsantonis still has the best ball instincts I’ve ever seen in a Canadian prospect and plays much bigger than his size.
11. Nicholas Dheilly, DE, Saskatchewan Huskies
Dheilly has all the makings of an impactful Canadian defensive lineman. He is explosive off the line and has a ton of special teams’ upside. How he adapts to a new school and system will be of interest to every team.
12. Carter O’Donnell, OL, Alberta Golden Bears
The latest in a string of high-quality Golden Bear linemen, O’Donnell could be a tackle or guard at the next level. Teams will be watching with bated breath to figure out where he best fits.
13. Marc-Antoine Dequoy, DB, Montreal Carabins
Dequoy has impressive size and coverage ability that stood out through the East-West Bowl process. Scouts will be paying extremely close attention to him during the 2019 season.
14. Tyler Ternowski, REC, Waterloo Warriors
Tyler the Terror has been absolutely ripping up the field in USports and that type of production rarely goes unnoticed. He is the CFL slot prototype and should cement draft status with another All-Canadian calibre season.
15. Samuel Lefebvre, OL, Laval Rouge et Or
An absolute load in the middle, teams know that Lefebvre is nearly impossible to move and a mean blocker. They’ll be watching closely to see if he can improve athletically in year 4.
16. Brendan O’Leary-Orange, REC, Nevada Wolfpack
O’Leary-Orange is a big bodied red-zone threat who is looking for an expanded role in his senior year. Teams will have high hopes that he can fulfill it, given what they’ll want him to do as a professional.
17. Adam Auclair, DB, Laval Rouge et Or
The former President’s Trophy winner as USports’ top defensive player, Auclair will continue to build on a distinguished career. Teams will use 2019 as a gauge to decide if he is a starting safety at the next level.
18. Malik Tyne, LB, Towson Tigers
Tyne has excelled as a situational linebacker and pass rusher in the FCS but will be anxious to prove he can be an every down player for a CFL player.
19. Ketel Asse, OL, Laval Rouge et Or
Asse has a body that has already garnered NFL interest but he’s far from a finished product. Scouts will be excited to see how he continues to develop.
20. Kian Schaffer-Baker, REC, Guelph Gryphons
Schaffer-Baker is an exceptional route runner and really showed up at the East-West Bowl. He’ll spend 2019 trying to go from under the radar to household name.
21. Chris Gangarossa, OL, Wagner Seahawks
Another massive offensive lineman, Gangarossa has to get a lot quicker with his footwork to make an impact at the next level but every team will see the potential. Senior year growth could send him rocketing up draft boards.
22. JJ Molson, PK, UCLA Bruins
UCLA doesn’t kick a ton of field-goals but Molson is money when they do. 14 of 19 on kicks last year, Molson missed just twice from inside 50 and didn’t miss once inside 40.
23. Dylan Giffen, OL, Western Mustangs
A huge mauler in the trenches, Giffen needs some polishing and to improve his quickness but should rise up draft boards as Western continues to dominate.
24. Jonathan Zamora, OL, St. FX X-Men
Unspectacular but extremely consistent, Zamora blocks whoever is in front of him and rarely gets beat. He is surprisingly athletic and oozes all the intangibles that you look for in a pro center.
25. Colton Klassen, RB/REC, Saskatchewan Huskies
Lacking ideal size, Klassen doesn’t lack anything else. His versatility of use will make sure teams keep an extra eye on him and a strong fourth year could garner some Anthony Coombs comparison to raise his draft status.
26. Niko DiFonte, PK, Calgary Dinos
Best known for kicking the longest field goal in USports history, DiFonte’s body of work is actually far more impressive than that kick. He is a three-tool kicker that should attract some attention in a strong kicking draft.
27. Noah Hallett, DB, McMaster Marauders
You don’t jump 44 inches and fail to attract some interest. Hallett is a freakish athlete with strong ball skills and will be hoping to prove in 2019 that he’ll be more than a special teamer in the CFL.
28. Gavin Cobb, REC, SFU Clan
A triple threat receiver, Cobb is playing a key role in Simon Fraser’s attempted resurgence. Expect him and his team to take a big step forward next year, resulting in some corresponding draft stock raising.
29. Jesse Lawson, OL, Carleton Ravens
An under the radar prospect, Lawson’s body and smooth movement caught my eye at the East-West Bowl. I’ll be paying special attention to him this season and I expect I won’t be alone.
30. Dante Brown, PK, Fort Hays State Tigers
Three kickers in the top 30? Damn straight! Brown was a Div. 2 All-American and named the top special teams’ player in NCAA D2, making 28 of 33 field goals and excelling as a punter as well.