The Covid-19 pandemic has presented challenges for the CFL which resulted in changes to their 2021 draft format as well as uncertainty on who will be the top pick.
All nine CFL teams look to the draft to build for the future of their franchises. Their approaches to the draft will be different to those of the past due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Changes have been made to the format of the draft that will change who is picked. Not only that, but every team has different ideas on who they think will be the number one overall pick of the draft. Here are some things to watch out for with the 2021 CFL Draft.
CFL Draft Format Changes
Back in February, the league announced changes to the draft format in multiple ways that changed the traditional way of drafting.
Since the 2020 season didn’t happen, this year’s draft order was in random order with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats winning the number one pick. The format of the draft will be in snake style which means since Montreal is the last pick of the draft (the pick is owned currently by Hamilton), the Alouettes will start the second round with the top pick. Typical CFL Drafts consist of eight rounds, but this year’s draft will have only six rounds. CFL.ca explains the reason for this is “in recognition of the fact that 2021 CFL training camps will feature a “double cohort” of Canadian rookies, with a group from each of the 2020 and 2021 CFL Drafts.”
This year’s draft will not have territorial selections involved. NCAA players who are eligible for this year’s draft and decide to play their extra year of eligibility will not have their draft year deferred. Since U SPORTS canceled their sports in the fall, players had the option to defer their draft year to 2022. According to CFL.ca, 132 players made the choice to move their draft year back to 2022.
Draft Picks Involved in Trades
The Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are tied with the most picks heading into the draft with each having seven selections in six rounds. Toronto has two selections in the fourth round as well as the sixth round. Hamilton is the only team that has two first round picks owning the first overall pick and the ninth overall pick.
The Tiger-Cats got the ninth overall pick from Montreal as part of the 2018 trade involving former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. Toronto got the 33rd overall pick from the BC Lions as a result of their 2019 trade involving defensive linemen Shawn Lemon and Davon Coleman. The last two rounds include trades made earlier this year as Calgary owns Toronto’s 43rd overall pick while Toronto has Calgary’s 47th overall pick. Winnipeg and Toronto swapped sixth round picks.
For a full list of the draft order, fans can check out the CFL website for full details.
Top Pick is Up For Grabs
There is plenty of talent in the draft pool for teams to pick from but unlike other years, there isn’t a consensus number one pick. TSN’s Farhan Lalji and Dave Naylor have discussed that most general managers would have a different opinion about who would be the top pick. Teams won’t be as hesitant to draft a player because a lot of them are going back to college for the 2021 season and won’t have to be signed to go to the CFL’s training camps.
There are multiple players being considered to be Hamilton’s top pick. NC State defensive end Daniel Joseph has been discussed as a potential top pick to help fill a need for depth on the defensive line for the Tiger-Cats. Joseph recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but is returning to school in the fall. He’s considered to be one of the top pass rushers in the draft and if the NFL doesn’t bring him in next year, he could have a major impact in the CFL.
After former Tennessee wide receiver Josh Palmer got drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in the NFL Draft, former Virginia receiver Terrell Jana has emerged as the top receiver in the draft. Most mock drafts have Jana projected as the first or second round pick. His athleticism makes him an ideal slot receiver as a pro and should get plenty of looks as a draft pick.
Current Texas State and former Maine offensive guard Liam Dobson has been projected as one of the top offensive linemen picked in the draft. Dobson is an intriguing prospect due to being a great athlete for his size. While he’ll play his last year of college eligibility at Texas State, he could be a great piece to any CFL team looking to build their offensive lines.
Other prospects to watch out for includes Calgary offensive lineman Logan Bandy, Ole Miss defensive back Deane Leonard, and UBC linebacker Ben Hladik.
Where to Watch and Keep Track of The CFL Draft
If fans are looking to watch the live telecast of the CFL Draft, they can find the live event Tuesday night at 7:00 pm EST on TSN. The network will be broadcasting the first two rounds of the draft. All picks can be found on the CFL Draft Tracker at CFL.ca where they will be updated as picks are being made. Make sure to stay tuned with CFL News Hub for instant analysis of the CFL Draft once it is completed.