An Explanation for Seven Prospect’s Surprising Falls in the CFL Draft

The CFL Draft is the hardest draft in sports to project, and every year a handful of, at first glance, intriguing prospects plummet down the board when the picks start to to fly by.

Last year, no two players took bigger falls than Simon Fraser’s Lemar Durant and Idaho’s Maxx Forde. Durant, said by some scouts to be the best player of the draft, was taken in with the 18th pick for a lack of special-teams capabilities. Maxx Forde fell to the seventh round, likely as a result of a small body of work, and for being far too much of a ‘tweener between a defensive tackle and defensive end.

There no fall-outs quite like Durant’s, though. None of the falls are really that surprising when you think about it – many I foresaw happening. Regardless, some intriguing names were taken later than expected, but don’t expect many of them to be steals. There’s a reason why each of them were drafted in the spot they were, and here’s your explanation.

1. RG Charles Vaillancourt, Laval – BC Lions (Round 1, pick 5)

Vaillancourt is a pro-ready offensive lineman that will likely start at center for the BC Lions from day one at training camp. So why did this blue-chip prospect, who was expected to be a top-two pick, fall to the Lions? The answer is simple: his lack of quickness. The Laval product has the most refined technique in the class as well as exceptional physical traits, but his lack of quickness could hurt him in the CFL. As was the case a couple times with Laval, it’s easy to see Vaillancourt costing a sack because he was too slow disengaging from a block then using his lateral quickness to step over and pick up a stunting defender or delayed blitzer. He can somewhat compensate for a lack of quickness, but it may put a ceiling on the player he’ll amount to. And while Vaillancourt has the potential to develop into an All-Star, his quickness may always be a lingering issue. As the great coach Bill Walsh said, “You can teach an athlete to be a technician, but you can’t teach a technician to be an athlete.”

2. DB Taylor Loffler, UBC – Winnipeg (round 3, pick 21)

After a dominant first season with the Thunderbirds that was given an exclamation point with an exceptional Combine performance, Loffler was seen as a possible first-round pick. But from looking at his college history with Boise State, it’s easy to see why Loffler fell all the way into the third-round, where the Bombers were more than willing to scoop him up. Loffler’s knees could be a time-bomb waiting to go off, with two knee surgeries already underwent. He’s also had surgery twice to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. A Vanier Cup champion, Loffler’s injuries could be a thing of the past after a clean bill of health last year, but it’s easy to see why teams were skeptical.

3. RG Dillon Guy, Buffalo – BC Lions (round 4, pick 30)

Guy is ahead of schedule on his rehab from a torn ACL and was a four-year starter at the University of Buffalo, but was still available when the Lions were on the clock in the fourth round. While Guy has a ton of experience under his belt against high competition, he wasn’t necessarily a stand-out player with the Bulls. But still, Northern Illinois receiver Juwan Brescacin hardly produced against high competition – similarly to Guy – yet he was taken in the second-round. See, with Dillon Guy, his flaws – largely from a technical stand-point, but also athletically – cannot be overlooked by the level of competition he played. My seventh ranked offensive linemen going into the draft, Guy has poor hand-placement, lowers his head when initiating contact and will sometimes initiate contact with his body instead of his hands. He’s also slow out of his stance, and lacks agility as well as balance. Guy has ideal size at 6-foot-4 and 317-lbs, but left college after four years of starting with a surprising amount of flaws.

4. NT Rupert Butcher, Western – Winnipeg (round 6, pick 46)

We may never see another player dominate the CFL Combine’s OL/DL one-on-ones quite like Rupert Butcher did in March 2016. He moved amazingly well at 6-foot-5, 327-lbs, displaying good quickness and hands, as well as a fearsome bull-rush. That took a lot of people by surprise, as his game-film with Western was underwhelming. Butcher was hardly a dominant player, and lacked consistency and motor, as per Kyle Walters. Defensive lineman have a huge advantage in Combine one-on-ones; they’re blocked one-on-one with no help; they know if it’s a pass or run; and they have a lot of time (and space) to operate with. It’s not a good way to make a full evaluation of a defensive lineman’s game, and it certainly didn’t make up for Butcher’s game-footage at Western.

5. SB Doug Corby, Queens – Edmonton (round 6, pick 53)

There’s very little separating this mediocre group of pass-catchers that could produce very few, if only one or two, effective starters. Simply put, what does Corby bring to the table that no other receiver in this mediocre class did? Juwan Brescacin offers unique contested catch-ability at 6’4″, 230-lbs. Llevi Noel was a dominant, versatile special-teams player at the amateur level. Brett Blaszko offers a unique blend of size and speed at 6-foot-4 with a 4.55-second 40-yard dash time, which could translate well on special-teams. Mike Jones is a blazing speedster that has the best chance of any receiver to develop into a starter, but with limited – if any – abilities on special-teams, he was a third-rounder. Doug Corby, meanwhile, has no physical traits that separate him from the rest. With a 4.505-second 40-yard dash, he has the straight-line speed to return kicks in a role like Anthony Parker, but he hasn’t proven that it’s in his repertoire.

6. NT Quinn Horton, Simon Fraser – Calgary (round 8, pick 68)

Quinn Horton has a major flaw: pad-level. The Simon Fraser product plays with zero knee-bend, and as a nose tackle in the CFL, he’ll get swallowed by double-teams if this isn’t fixed. Like any prospect, he has other flaws as well that make him no slam-dunk player even if he fixed his pad-level, but his lack of knee-bend was almost enough to make him go undrafted. Horton was the second-best interior defensive lineman in the combine drills, but was able to his deceptive quickness and good hands to win match-ups. Standing straight up right off the snap, the native of Winnipeg often failed to generate a bull-rush, and was sometimes stonewalled with pure power by an offensive lineman while using his speed. Horton has a lot of skills – and not a long list of flaws – that projected him as a third-to-fourth round player, but his pad-level was an issue that teams could not overlook.

7. DE Denzel Philip, Eastern New Mexico (undrafted)

Philip was dubbed a “sleeper pick” and an “underrated prospect” by several draft pundits in the league, and I was not buying it. Very skeptical even before the draft, I was especially not sold on any of the hype after his combine performance. Similarly to Maxx Forde last year, Philip was seen as a ‘tweener – someone who’s too slow and stiff to play defensive end, but too small to be a pass-rushing defensive tackle in the 4 or 5-tech positions. Philip arrived at the combine at a far-too-light-weight at 225-lbs, likely as an attempt to improve his quickness and be seen as a defensive end. Regardless, Philip was the same player – explosive but slow, with no bend around on the corner and no hands. Philip didn’t change even at 225-lbs, making it clear to coaches that he could not play defensive end at the proper weight, 255-lbs.

Bonus:

LB DJ Lalama, Manitoba – Edmonton (round 8 pick 70)

This one baffles me, and I have no explanation. It was shocking to see DJ Lalama as Mr. Irrelevant, as his abilities should project to be an effective special-teams player in this league. While also a dominant linebacker, Lalama was predominantly an anchor on special-teams with the Bisons. He performed well at the Combine, and can also long-snap. The Eskimos could be getting a steal with the final pick in the draft.

2016 CFL Draft Positional Ranks: Receivers

Receivers are often an easy position group to differentiate into different tiers at the CFL draft, but the 2016 class apparently didn’t get the memo.

This year’s group of draft-eligible receivers is, quite honestly, relatively mediocre. A very deep class that lacks star-power, there is very little separating, for example, the ninth best receiver from the fourth-best receiver – it’s that close.

With the no. 1 ranked pass-catcher destined for the NFL in 2016, there are no blue-chip, home-run prospects like 2015 draftees Lemar Durant and Nic Demski. Instead, special-teams value has sky-rocketed within this draft, as it’s already difficult enough for 1st-round draft picks to develop into starting receivers in their career. And, evidently, this class doesn’t boast a 1st-round receiver anymore.

And while it lacks the big names, given how deep it is, this class of receivers certainly must have a diamond-in-the-rough (or two) just waiting to be uncovered. CFL clubs will be finding excellent value from receivers in the late rounds of the draft, and it would not surprise me if every team’s draft-board for receivers was drastically different.

Right or wrong, here are my top-10 receiver prospects for the 2016 CFL draft.

1. Tevaun Smith, Iowa (6’0″, 205-lbs)

The unquestioned top receiver in the entire draft, Smith could still be available at the top of the third round as a result of the interest he’s receiving from NFL teams. He’s a blue-chip prospect, and there’s no doubt he’d be contending for the first-overall pick in the CFL draft had NFL teams not been knocking down his door following an unbelievable pro day performance.

Strengths: Smith really is the total package. A well-built receiver from a physical standpoint, Smith is easily the best and most natural route-runner in the class. He is able to control his blazing speed – he clocked at 4.33 40-yard dash at his Pro Day – to be super smooth in and out of his breaks. His footwork is top-notch, as he has the ability to get in and out of his cuts without wasted movement or stiffness. He doesn’t always need to always sink his hips, restart and go find the football – it’s all one smooth, compact transition.

With a 38-inch vertical jump, Smith can jump out of the gym and be an effective red-zone target. He has excellent ball-tracking skills, excelling at winning contested catches in traffic. After the catch, Smith shows good vision and is great in space.

Weaknesses: Consistency is the biggest area of improvement for Smith. He will occasionally give away his route with his shoulders, and may sometimes fail to maintain his pad-level. When releasing off of jams at the line of scrimmage, he can miss his swat with his hands or can step outside of his halo with his feet. And while he does a good job catching the ball away from his body, there have been a few ‘concentration’ drops in his junior and senior seasons.

Photo credit: Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com
Photo credit: Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com

2. Llevi Noel, Toronto (6’1″, 202-lbs)

Noel’s rare combination of craftiness in his route-running, dynamic after-the-catch ability and special-teams value could be enough to make him the first receiver off the board. Although I think the next handful of players could develop into better receivers, it’s special-teams value that has Noel, who has some intriguing potential on offense, himself, at the top of the list behind only an NFL-bound pass-catcher.

Strengths: The Toronto, ON. product was a dominate special-teams player in the amateur ranks, contributing in the 2015 season as a returner – he had a punt return TD, kickoff return TD and missed field goal return TD in 5 games – and as a gunner on the punt team, demonstrating great open-field tackling skills for an offensive player.

Noel uses that vision he’s shown as returner on offense, making him a thrill to watch with the ball in his hands. He takes long, powerful strides and does not lack the physicality of a professional receiver.

Weaknesses: Although he doesn’t lack craftiness, Noel is far from a complete route-runner. He has solid short-area quickness, but is still developing his footwork. He sinks his hips and has good pad-level, but must refine the technique in his head and shoulders, which will improve his ability to remain unpredictable and sell the deep route. Noel doesn’t seem to drop the ball a lot, but could benefit from extending his arms and catching further away from his body to prevent defensive backs from making plays.

3. Mike Jones, Southern (5’11”, 178-lbs)

Jones might just be this draft class’ hidden gem at the receiver position – he’s that good. And while I think he might develop into the best pass-catcher of this underwhelming class, his ability to contribute on special-teams could affect his draft stock. Jones is a little bit of a risky pick without having special-teams value to fall back on.

Strengths: Jones combines natural, dynamic speed with stop-on-a-dime ability to form spectacular route-running skills by this class’ standards. He’s the best in this year’s draft at remaining unpredictable in his routes, pressing deep each and every route by driving off pf the line-of-scrimmage with his shoulders square, pads over his knees and legs in full stride all the way into the top of his route. He’s smooth, light on his feet and puts on a clinic with his releases off the line of scrimmage, displaying the ability to use his quick stutter, explosiveness, and also, to a lesser degree, his hands. Jones also supplies some craftiness as a route-runner, using that wiggle he has to step outside his halo at the stem of the route to stutter without losing balance or burst.

He has solid ball-tracking skills in the air and serviceable hands, catching the ball away from his body and with natural form. He runs a full-route tree and is adequate at reading zone coverage and maintaining spacing in his routes, which was important for Southern’s Air Coryell offense.

Weaknesses: Although he’s found a way to compensate for his lack of size in his releases, Jones still noticeably lacks physicality and, as a result, some after-the-catch ability. He doesn’t have a lot of fight in contested-catch situations, and is easily brought down in the open-field. Jones’ vision, meanwhile, doesn’t help his after-the-catch ability, and can affect his abilities as a returner, which is really the only aspect of special-teams that the diminutive speedster could play. And while he’s one of the best route-runners in the class, he’s far from a polished receiver, as he needs to continue to work at bursting out of break and coming back to football.

4. Juwan Brescacin, Northern Illinois (6’4″, 230-lbs)

A three-year starter at Norther Illinois, there’s no questioning Brescacin’s level of competition at the collegiate level. As a sophomore in 2013, he posted career highs in catches (33), yards (499) and touchdowns (6) while playing with QB Jordan Lynch, who’s currently a member of the Edmonton Eskimos.

Strengths: Brescacin is able to compliment his huge frame with solid feet, allowing him to run crisp, sharp routes. He effectively uses his large frame to win contested catches in the end-zone and along the sidelines, boxing out defenders and catching the ball at it’s highest point. Although he’s not exactly fast, Brescacin is a long-strider that can stretch the field down the seam. He projects as essentially a tight-end playing out wide at the Z-position.

Weaknesses: Brescacin, who clocked a respectable 4.62-second 40-yard dash, doesn’t play with a lot of burst or acceleration. He clearly has excellent size, but really lacks short-area quickness and hasn’t found a way to compensate for that. He’s fairly slow in and out of breaks, and also isn’t very fundamentally sound with his hands at the line of scrimmage or his head and shoulders in his route-running.

5. Felix Faubert-Lussier, Laval (6’0″, 216-lbs)

A testing monster at the CFL draft, I see a lot of upside in Faubert-Lussier. He has a lot of the traits to potentially develop into a rotational slot-back, and if he adds weight, he could be converted into more of an H-back role. But special-teams is where his true value lies, and as a large, physical player with exceptional athletic abilities, he could be a versatile, dynamic special-teamer. Faubert-Lussier is one of the draft’s biggest sleepers, and if it wasn’t so difficult to compare evaluating play at the top NCAA level versus the CIS level, he might be ahead of the fourth-ranked receiver on this list.

Strengths: Faubert-Lussier is not just an athlete at receiver that can’t put it together into a route – he’s actually really underrated as a route-runner. He’s disciplined with his pass-patterns, running sharp routes and, most surprisingly, offering some craftiness at the top of his stem, too. Faubert-Lussier has surprisingly deceptive speed – he clocked a 4.58-second 40-yard dash at the combine – and actually has some wiggle in his step. He has experience making difficult catches, and also does a good job attacking the ball on short throws.

Weaknesses: The Laval product, like every prospect, has some flaws as a route-runner. Although I did mention his footwork above, he takes an awful lot of steps while breaking down. Faubert-Lussier can also improve his head and shoulders during his stem to remain unpredictable, which could cover up some of his other flaws. Depending on how teams think they can maximize his potential, Faubert-Lussier will need to put on weight if teams view him best as a fullback, which could take away from some of his abilities.

faubert-lussier
Pascal Ratthe/Le soleil (I DO NOT OWN THIS PHOTO)

6. Brian Jones, Acadia (6’4″, 230-lbs)

Jones is a small-school product who garnered a lot of hype at the CFL combine. But don’t add me to the bandwagon yet, as I’m not quite buying it. Understandably, Jones could be drafted higher than others as a result of his special-teams value, but I don’t see a ton of potential as a receiver at the next-level. He could be a better fit as a more athletic H-Back, similarly to Spencer Moore in Saskatchewan.

Strengths: Jones has a large frame and knows how to use it to his advantage. He’s a physical, willing blocker, and can box out defenders when going up for the jump-ball, catching the pass at it’s highest point. Jones also has very reliable hands as well as a noticeable tendency to explode out of his breaks at the top of his route.

But Jones’ best value comes from special-teams, where he’ll offer much versatility at the next level. Unlike most receivers, with the size and power of a linebacker, he can play on all four units and at many different positions.

Weaknesses: Jones is a fairly poor route-runner at this stage, lacking short-area quickness and several fundamentals. He’s far from a smooth route-runner, as he can be too stiff and really has to sit deep into his breaks for us to see his explosion, which can be considered a wasted movement. Jones tends to round his routes too much – an issue stemming from a combination of hip mobility and footwork – and doesn’t always maintain his head and shoulders running into his cut.

7. Doug Corby, Queens (6’1″, 187-lbs)

Corby, the CFL scouting bureau’s no. 18 ranked prospect, is a boom-or-bust player in my eyes. He poses some interesting traits on offense, but could fall as a result of his special-teams value.

Strengths: Recording the fastest 40-yard dash at the CFL combine with a 4.5-flat, Corby certainly doesn’t lack speed. He pairs that with excellent acceleration and quickness, forming a shifty combination. He explodes off of the line of scrimmage, reaching top speed faster than many receivers, and limits his steps while breaking down. He has a soft pair of hands and catches the ball away from his body.

Weaknesses: While he has very few glaring holes, which is obviously welcomed, Corby also simply fails to stand out in many areas. The biggest area of concern is how he tends to round his routes – that’s a huge flaw, don’t get me wrong – but he’s mediocre-to-okay with his hips and ability to press deep. He does lack physicality though, and may be limited to spot-duty on the kick return team in the professional ranks.

8. Brett Blaszko, Calgary (6’4″, 204-lbs)

Reeling in 10 TD passes in 2015, all Brett Blaszko does is catch touchdowns. The Burlington, ON. native has a lot more potential than people realize, but CFL teams are reportedly questioning his preparation, which I’m not sure – actually, I have no idea – if that’s fair/true. Regardless, I would also not be shocked if a team really reached for Blaszko in the draft given some of his natural abilities.

Strengths: Blaszko has good size and speed at 6’4″, 204-lbs with a 40-yard dash at 4.54-seconds. He has a lot of natural talents, such as smooth hips, great hands and excellent acceleration. He really explodes out of his breaks and also offers a large catching radius. With his size, Blaszko could fill a few different roles on special rules, but don’t overlook his potential to possibly play offense in a few years – he at least has the athleticism.

Weaknesses: Blaszko has a lot of room to improve with many different techniques. As a route-runner, his pad-level, footwork and upper-body can all use fixing – thankfully, they can be fixed. He’s still very much a raw receiver, but with dedication and good coaching, Blaszko has a decently high ceiling.

Photo credit: David Moll
Photo credit: David Moll

9. Shaquille Johnson, Western (5’11”, 178-lbs)

The CIS record-holder for receptions by a freshman in single-season, Johnson has taken quite the path to the national combine. He spent the 2015 season with the London Beefeaters, earning himself an invite to the Toronto regional combine and then to the national event. As a prospect, at this point I mostly view him as a poor-man’s Mike Jones, which makes him a riskier pick without the ability to really contribute on special-teams.

Strengths: An extra shifty pass-catcher, Johnson has great short-area quickness and natural speed, clocking a 4.391-second 40-yard dash at the Toronto regional combine. His footwork is surprisingly really, really solid, and he showed the ability to run a full route tree at the national combine one-on-ones. He has the quick twitch needed to win on underneath routes.

Weaknesses: Johnson has less-than-ideal size at 5-foot-11, and doesn’t offer much physicality. Although he evidently has great feet, Johnson must continue to refine his techniques as a route-runner into a more compact sequence of events. Johnson, who has all the physical traits, tested quite well at the combine but still needs to put it all together to become a professional receiver.

10. George Johnson, Western (6’2″, 206-lbs)

Johnson, a player I was particularly excited to see, saw his draft-stock take a significant hit at the CFL combine, where he tested poorly and was one of the least eye-popping receivers during one-on-ones.

Strengths: Johnson has a few nice techniques, such as the ability to change gears to create separation from the defensive back and the ability to keep his shoulders square to not give away his route. He was a really exciting player after-the-catch with Western, showing off a good balance of finesse and power. Johnson has a reliable set of hands, catching the ball away from his body, which he also effectively uses to box-out defenders.

Weaknesses: Johnson isn’t a very fluid route-runner at this point. His footwork is rather suspect, surprisingly, and his hips can be too stiff at times. He doesn’t explode out of his breaks like I’d like to see, and his shuttle and 3-cone times, which he really needed to do well on at the CFL combine, only confirmed this. At this point, it’s easy to wonder about Johnson’s overall athleticism at this point, as he only ran a 4.78-second 40-yard dash and recorded an ultra-disappointing 25.5-inch vertical.

Best of the rest: Joshua Stanford (6’0″ – 189-lbs – Kansas), Jamal Kett (6’4″ – 208-lbs – Western)

Special-Teams Abilities More Valuable Than Ever for 2016 Draft-Eligible Receivers

In a league where only a fraction of the receivers drafted go on to become full-time starters, the ability to contribute on special-teams is what earns many of these players their paycheck.

Even many of the most highly-touted receiver prospects fail to cement themselves as starters in their career, and in a draft-class that already lacks star-power at the receiver position, how a player projects as a special-teamer in the 2016 class, where little separates each receiver from another, could be the difference between a second-round pick and a sixth-round pick.

Aside from Iowa’s Tevaun Smith, who’s likely NFL-bound as an undrafted free agent after a spectacular pro day, there are no blue-chip receiver prospects in this class quite like 2015 draftees Lemar Durant and Nic Demski, both of whom project as future starters in the league. Even Durant, who’s one of the best receiver prospects in a long time, fell all the way to the bottom of the second round as a result of teams possibly worried about his ability to contribute in the ever-important phase of the game, special-teams.

Evidently, special-teams are extremely important when evaluating Canadians at the receiver position, and in a draft class that likely won’t boast a first-round receiver – or one that’s as promising on offense as Durant or Demski – special-teams are more valuable than ever.

Perhaps no other pass-catchers are expected to move up on draft-boards strictly due to how they project on special-teams quite like Acadia’s Brian Jones and Laval’s Felix Faubert-Lussier. Both Jones (6’4″, 230-lbs) and Faubert-Lussier (6’0″, 216-lbs) are big, filled-out bodies, and could become situational H-Backs on offense in the future if they add some weight. Unlike most receivers, these two can play on all four units as punt protectors, kickoff return front-line blockers and on kick coverage teams.

Many other receivers are limited to being kick returners and, sometimes, gunners on punt coverage, but Jones and Faubert-Lussier offer much more versatility – and they could probably be gunners on certain punt sets, too.

Although Jones and Faubert-Lussier both tested very well at the combine, it’s still perhaps far-fetched that they’ll ever become full-time starters on offense. Regardless, that doesn’t mean that they’ll each fall below all the better route-runners and pass-catchers in the draft, though; several players project as better receivers than Jones and Faubert-Lussier – that doesn’t say much – but very few, if any, have quite the same odds as, say, Durant or Demski at becoming starters in the future. In this case, they’d have to make it on their special-teams abilities, and perhaps only one other receiver is expected to excel in this area like Jones and Faubert-Lussier.

Will Jones and Faubert-Lussier be the first two receivers off the board because they’re versatile on special-teams? Of course not, since there are some receivers that have a chance at becoming future starters. (And one receiver that could develop into a starter and serviceable special-teams player). But should they be taken ahead of some receivers that, despite having better skills as a route-runner than Jones and Faubert-Lucier, still likely don’t have what it takes to develop into a future starter? Absolutely.

Receivers do not need to be 6-foot-4, 230-pounds to excel and be versatile special-teams players, of course, and Toronto/Windsor AKO’s Llevi Noel is walking proof. The 6-foot-1, 202-pounder was a dominate special-teams player in the amateur ranks, contributing in the 2015 season as a returner – he had a punt return TD, kickoff return TD and missed field goal return TD in 5 games – and as a gunner on the punt team, demonstrating great open-field tackling skills for an offensive player.

Not only does Noel have equally as promising of a future on special-teams as Jones and Faubert-Lussier, but he also has some of the best chances of any receiver at developing into a future starter, as well.

Noel’s potential as both a receiver and special-teams player could make him the first receiver off the board in the draft. It’s a close competition between three players – Noel, Southern’s Mike Jones and Northern Illinois’ Juwan Brescacin – but neither of the last two have nearly the same potential as Noel on special-teams. And since none are sure-things when it comes to their chances of becoming starters, it might be in the best interest for teams to draft Noel, as he could remain on a roster as special-teams player and rotational receiver if he doesn’t develop into a starter – unless they’re fully sold on a riskier pick, Mike Jones.

And although Mike Jones is a guy who I’m most confident can develop into a starting receiver down the road, he’ll still need to maintain a roster spot in the meantime – and even when he does secure a starting job in the future – on the ‘teams. And Jones, who’s undersized and lacks physicality at 5’11”, 187-pounds, may struggle to find a role even as a returner, though it’d be worth a shot.

Even if CFL teams project Jones to be the best straight-up receiver in the future, they may elect to draft another pass-catcher who can be an effective special-teamer ahead of the diminutive speedster from Texas. If worries about special-teams can drop a prospect such as Lemar Durant, who strongly projected as a future starter, into the second round, it will surely affect the stock of Jones, who is a solid receiver prospect, himself, but not quite like the now-Calgary Stampeder.

There’s no telling how much this will affect the draft stock of other draft-eligible receivers such as Queens University’s Doug Corby, Calgary’s Brett Blaszko or Western’s Shaquille Johnson. Similarly to Mike Jones, Brescacin and Noel, all three are better route-runners than Brian Jones and Felix Faubert-Lussier, but none have the same potential on special-teams. They each have the speed to be returners and, maybe, gunners – particularly Blaszko – but none bring as much to the table on special-teams as Brian Jones or Faubert-Lussier, or as a receiver like Noel, Brescacin or Mike Jones.

Sure, Corby, Blaszko and Johnson all have better chances of becoming starting receivers than the big guys, Jones and Faubert-Lussier, but since the chances for all five of these players are minimal, teams will be wise to form their draft boards based on special-teams.

Special-teams are an extremely crucial element to the game, and the key to a paycheck for many Canadian players in the league. Although most of these receivers seem all bunched together in mediocrity, we can use special-teams to differentiate the players and uncover the top prospects in the 2016 CFL draft class – it’s where they’ll make their money.

faubert-lussier
Pascal Ratthe/Le soleil (I DO NOT OWN THIS PHOTO)