The CFL’s uniqueness is one of its best qualities. They haven’t fallen into the mistake of becoming a minor league of the NFL in over 100 years. They always have some top athletes, and it gives some NFL players who were cut a chance to get their confidence back.
Macleod Bethal-Thompson, the quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts, left the CFL in the winter to play in the USFL in New Orleans. He wasn’t good enough to get into the CFL Hall of Fame, but he did lead the Toronto Argonauts to a 2022 Grey Cup win over the highly favoured Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Along with MBT, Darnell Sankey, who used to play defender for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, went to the USFL. Sankey has a good chance of making an NFL team at some point in the future. He’s a good defender who can change the way a game is going with just one hit. Everyone likes him wherever he goes.
Players from north of the border find the USFL to be a bit of a struggle. When another league is playing nearby, teams might not want to send their scouts to Canada. It’s also a problem for players who want to play sports closer to where they live. One great example is MBT.
But the CFL has survived every form of the XFL, even when the XFL came back and made a weird announcement. They have made it through the Arena Football League and will probably do fine in the USFL as well. Even when the US joined the league, the Baltimore Stallions were the only US team to win the Grey Cup.
Here are a few guys the San Francisco 49ers will want to keep an eye on as the 2023 season starts. Cody Grace is the punter for the Calgary Stampeders.
No. 3: Cody Grace, punter
The 49ers have decided that Mitch Wishnowsky will be their kicker for a while. So it should be. In his career, Wishnowsky has averaged 45.2 yards per punt. Since he took over the job, he has also been able to throw the ball over the 20-yard line 42% of the time. These are numbers that are pretty good.
In the CFL, the goal is to keep the other team between the goal line and the 20-yard line. Even better is if you can get them to start within their own 5-yard line or less. Cody Grace does a great job of making sure the field is long for the other team.
Grace kept sending the B.C. Lions as far back as he could in the first game of 2023. He punted six times for a total of 315 yards, or 52 yards on average per punt. (Remember that the CFL field is a little bit longer, but that doesn’t take away from how well Grace did.)
Wishnowsky isn’t afraid to put his life at risk, and Grace isn’t either. Here is a picture of him from last season, when he returned his own kick against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
During the play, Grace broke his finger, but the Stampeders scored a touchdown soon after. Definitely a guy on special teams to keep an eye on as the year goes on.
No. 2: Dalton Schoen, wide receiver
It’s no secret that the 49ers get hurt a lot. So it doesn’t hurt to look around and see who else might be able to fill a spot on the team and make a name for themselves.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had one of the best groups of receivers in 2022. Wide receiver Dalton Schoen was one of them. The Overland Park, Kansas, native, who is 26 years old, leads the CFL in almost every area.
Schoen had the most yards in the league with 1,441. He caught 70 passes and averaged 20.6 yards per catch. He also had 16 scores and 41 second-down catches that led to first downs, which was the most in the CFL.
He is a big, strong player with a lot of potential. He is 6’1″ tall and weighs 218 pounds. He doesn’t mind getting hit or being hit. He’s athletic, quick, and can catch almost every ball that comes his way.
3DownNation says that Schoen tried out for the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals in the summer. Luckily for the Blue Bombers, neither team signed him, and he’s expected to light up the CFL once more.
This time, it might be a real chance to get into the NFL.
No. 1: Lorenzo Mauldin IV, defensive lineman
The 49ers might want to keep an eye on Lorenzo Mauldin IV of the Ottawa REDBLACKS if they want to find another defensive lineman who wants to get after the quarterback.
Mauldin had 17 QB sacks in his first year with Ottawa. The first year he could play all 18 games was 2022. He had been with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before. He was a CFL All-Star and won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player award in his first season with the REDBLACKS.
This person is half animal. He is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 259 pounds. He is from Sacramento, California. He is, however, very quick. He’s likely to make a play in the backfield no matter where you put him on the line of scrimmage.
The 30-year-old will have a great chance in 2023. No one expects the REDBLACKS to be in the running for the Grey Cup, but everyone will be watching the All-Star to see if he can get 17 or more sacks again.
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