After all the fun I had putting together last December’s Grading, Analyzing & Re-Drafting The 2011 CFL Draft piece, I figured it only made sense to make these articles an annual installment on my blog.
We all know that Canadian talent is the key to success in the CFL and, while free agency and trades can be used to supplement a team’s pool of national talent, the best way to build it is through the draft. Great draft classes can result in championships; bad draft classes can stunt the success of a franchise for years. As four seasons have now come and gone since the 2012 CFL draft, I believe it’s finally fair to evaluate the player selections from that day on May 3, 2012.
I will be using the same grading rubric as I did a year ago, which can be found below. If you are so inclined, feel free to follow along with the 2012 CFL Draft page for a full listing of player selections and trades here.
5 = Perennial all-star
4 = Consistent starter
3 = Situational starter, strong depth player
2 = Special teamer and/or distant depth player
1 = Minimal contributor, has been released
0 = Never appeared in a CFL regular season game
It should also be noted that draft grades are only a reflection of the impact each player had with the team that originally drafted him. For example, if John Smith is cut in training camp after being drafted by Team A, the grade Team A would receive for drafting him would be a zero even if he goes on to become a perennial all-star with Team B.
|1||2||DT/DE||Jabar Westerman||Eastern Michigan||3|
Westerman provides the Lions with versatility, starting at both defensive tackle and defensive end since joining the club in 2012. Westerman’s career has become somewhat overshadowed by his older brother Jamaal, who, in one year with Winnipeg, recorded more sacks (17) than Jabar has in his four-year CFL career (12). This doesn’t mean that the youngest Westerman isn’t a worthwhile player — Jabar could have a roster spot on my team any day of the week — but, in retrospect, second overall was likely a little too high a spot for B.C. to draft this Eastern Michigan product.
Fabien got off to a tremendous start in his rookie season in 2013 until a devastating knee injury forced him to the sidelines for almost an entire calendar year. After being slowly reintroduced to the game in his sophomore season, Fabien started all eighteen regular season games at left guard in 2015 as part of a B.C. offensive line that far surpassed expectations.
Norman, a college guard, was moved to centre by the Lions in his rookie season. While he never truly flourished in his new position, Norman helped secure an offensive line that was very much in flux throughout the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Norman, who missed virtually the entire 2015 season due to injury, is a pending free agent.
Verdone was cut by the Lions after a brief stint on their practice roster in 2013. After brief stops in Hamilton and Montreal, Verdone is now a member of the Ottawa RedBlacks where he plays predominantly on special teams.
|1||6||WR||Shamawd Chambers||Wilfred Laurier||3|
|2||14||DE||Justin Capicciotti||Simon Fraser||2|
|5||38||LS||Ryan King||Saint Mary’s||2|
The Eskimos drafted a very good player when they selected Austin Pasztor fourth overall — too good, in fact. Pasztor, who’d signed with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent just prior to the 2012 CFL draft, is still playing down south four years later. Pasztor found his way to Jacksonville after being let go by the Vikings on August 31, 2012, where he started 15 games from 2012-2014. Released by the Jags this past September, Pasztor is now a member of the Cleveland Browns.
With just forty-seven games played across four seasons with Edmonton due to injury, Chambers’ best years are likely still ahead of him. The Toronto-born receiver has recorded 112 receptions for 1,234 yards and seven touchdowns since entering the league and, while these numbers aren’t bad, they’re not close to where they would be if Chambers were able to stay healthy. Chambers was a bright spot in the 2015 Grey Cup, a game in which he earned the Most Valuable Canadian award for his two reception, 49 yards performance versus Ottawa.
Capicciotti notched just two sacks in minimal playing during for his two seasons with the Eskimos. Left unprotected in the 2013 expansion draft, Capicciotti was claimed by Ottawa where he has since become one of the CFL’s best pass rushers. Ed Hervey hasn’t made a lot of mistakes since taking over as the general manager in Edmonton, but letting Capicciotti go was a tremendous error. Oops.
Hazime had his rights traded to Hamilton in February of 2013, never signing a contract in Edmonton. In three seasons with the Ti-Cats, Hazime has recorded twenty-three tackles and two sacks. King, meanwhile, remains with the Eskimos as the club’s long snapper.
|4||27||G||Brad Erdos||Simon Fraser||3|
|5||30||S||Adam Berger||Simon Fraser||2|
|5||31||C||Mike Filer||Mount Allison||0|
|6||43||DT||Jordan Spence||Eastern Oregon||0|
With apologies for the upcoming pun, one might call Calgary’s first round selection of the 2012 CFL draft “a-Pall-ing.” Pall, a native of Montreal, was released during his first training camp with the Stampeders after verbally agreeing to sign onto the club’s practice roster. After his release, Pall broke his promise (not that I blame him) by signing with his hometown Alouettes where he spent the next two seasons recording just three special teams tackles. Pall also got a brief look with the Bombers in 2014, with whom he recorded one defensive tackle. He is now out of football.
MacDougall was a consistent special teamer and depth safety for the Stamps from 2012-2014 before signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in February of 2015. MacDougall, a former Saskatchewan Huskie, will always be remembered for publicly stating that he hates the city of Regina, then signing there as a free agent.
Berger, like MacDougall, has made his career on special teams. He has notched fifteen career special teams tackles in his three seasons (2013-2015) with the Stamps.
Erdos signed with the Stampeders on January 8, 2014 and, after spending most of that season on the practice roster, was able to start eight games at right guard in 2015. Erdos finished this past season on the six-game injured list with a shoulder injury.
Calgary cut Filer in training camp, though the Mount Allison product has since carved out a nice career for himself in Hamilton. Filer, the Tabbies’ starting centre, was recently named the team’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman.
Peach and Desouza both spent time on the Stamps’ practice roster and are now CFL free agents. Spence, meanwhile, never signed a CFL contract.
With a downgraded second round pick and just four selections overall, this draft has the finger prints of then-Roughrider general manager Brendan Taman all over it. Heenan was a great pick at first overall, starting at guard in his rookie year before moving over to tackle in 2013 and 2014. Heenan turned his success with the ‘Riders into an NFL shot with the Indianapolis Colts, where he now sits on their practice roster.
Hurl was an excellent special teamer for the ‘Riders in 2012 and 2014 — he missed most of 2013 with a hamstring injury — but was heavily criticized for his play at middle linebacker in his final year with the club. The Bombers signed Hurl as a free agent prior to the 2015 season where, after a rough start, he settled in nicely to finish the season with 53 tackles, five sacks, and two interceptions in eighteen starts.
Régimbald-Gagné is still with the ‘Riders, having recorded eighteen special teams tackles from 2013-2015. Bamba, who recorded just one career catch for seventeen yards with Saskatchewan, will always be remembered for traveling to B.C. in the Riders’ equipment truck because he didn’t have the necessary identification to board the team’s flight.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
|1||3||G/T||Tyson Pencer||Washington State||1|
|3||21||DT||Christo Bilukidi||Georgia State||0|
Joe Mack had some rough drafts as the general manager of the Blue Bombers, but 2012 was bad even for him. To put it frankly, the selection of Washington State offensive lineman Tyson Pencer was/is the worst draft pick in the recent history of the CFL. Pencer, an injury-plagued bad boy with well-documented character issues, was projected to go somewhere in the third round of a relatively deep 2012 draft class. Instead, Mack selected Pencer at third overall, a decision so unthinkable that it evoked laughter from the Eskimo draft room when the pick was announced. Pencer started just two games in his two seasons with the club and, after participating in training camp with (ironically) the Eskimos in 2015, is now out of football.
Aprile, an excellent receiver in his time at Queen’s, was moved to safety in his first training camp with Winnipeg for reasons that are beyond the threshold of human comprehension. Aprile struggled at safety, was cut, and finished his final year of CIS eligibility before his rights were traded to Hamilton in exchange for cornerback Matt Bucknor. In two seasons with the Tabbies, Aprile has yet to record a reception.
Thomas is the only player from Winnipeg’s 2012 draft class who can still be found on the Bombers’ roster. In sixty-five career games that include nineteen starts, Thomas has recorded forty-three tackles, six sacks, and a forced fumble. Thomas recently signed a contract extension with the club through 2017.
Bilukidi, a sixth round selection of the Oakland Raiders in 2012, is currently a free agent after NFL stints in Oakland (2012-2013), Cincinnati (2013), and Baltimore (2014-2015). Stephan, meanwhile, recorded five career special teams tackles in two seasons with the Bombers and is now out of football.
|2||8||CB||Courtney Stephen||Northern Illinois||4|
|3||20||DT||Michael Atkinson||Boise State||2|
|5||33||RB||Bo Palmer||Simon Fraser||0|
Stephen has been a steady performer at field-side cornerback since joining the Ti-Cats in 2013. Just one of two regular national starters at that position in the CFL, Stephen’s abilities provide the Ti-Cats with great ratio flexibility. The four interceptions Stephen recorded in 2015 were the most by a national player in a single season since Craig Butler recorded five with Saskatchewan in 2011.
Rockhill never appeared in a game for the Tiger-Cats, though that doesn’t mean he failed to provide the organization with some value. In February of 2013, Rockhill was traded alongside Canadian linebacker Nathan Kanya to Edmonton in exchange for quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, offensive lineman Greg Wojt, and a little-known linebacker named Simoni Lawrence. In a bizarre move, the Eskimos cut Rockhill that June in training camp, at which point he was re-signed by the Ti-Cats. Cut by Hamilton this past season in training camp, Rockhill is now out of football.
Plesius and Gascon-Nadon have made the most of their three seasons (2013-2015) with the Ti-Cats on special teams. Plesius has recorded 36 career special teams tackles (including a stellar 19 in 2015), while Gascon-Nadon has recorded twenty to go with one blocked punt. Sadly, Gascon-Nadon is known to most CFL fans as the Tiger-Cat defensive end who dropped a sure interception late in this year’s East Final.
Atkinson has appeared in fourteen games in his two seasons with the Tabbies, starting one. He has recorded six defensive tackles and one sack from his defensive tackle spot.
Charbonneau-Campeau made modest contributions in his two years with the Ti-Cats — nine receptions for 115 yards — before to being traded to Calgary in exchange for national receiver Spencer Armstrong. Armstrong never registered a statistic for the Ti-Cats, while Charbonneau-Campeau recorded 13 receptions for 233 yards and a touchdown with the Stampeders in 2014. Charbonneau-Campeau missed virtually the entire 2015 season with a broken leg.
Palmer spent part of the 2014 season on the Ti-Cats’ practice roster before being released and, after a brief stint with Calgary, is now out of football.
|2||9||DT||Cleyon Laing||Iowa State||4|
|4||24||LB||Herve Tonye-Tonye||Northern Colorado||2|
|6||40||LS||Aaron Crawford||Saint Mary’s||0|
Laing exploded for forty defensive tackles and eight sacks with the Argos in 2015 in his second season as a full-time starter. A pending free agent, Laing, who was named the Argos’ Most Outstanding Canadian in 2015, stands to receive a big raise heading into 2016.
Tonye-Tonye has appeared in forty games with the Argos since 2013, recording ten tackles on defence and 18 on special teams.
Neither Hurst nor Pierre ever dressed for Toronto. Hurst spent parts of the 2012 and 2013 seasons on the Argos’ practice roster, while Pierre, released outright by Toronto in June of 2012, spent time with Edmonton and Winnipeg from 2013-2015. Both are currently free agents.
Willson, a Toronto native, was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft. He has recorded 51 receptions for 759 yards and five touchdowns with the Seahawks, indicating that he will likely never sign a CFL contract.
Crawford, cut by the Argos in training camp in 2012, had brief stints in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg before joining Hamilton where he has been their long snapper since September of 2014.
|3||18||DE||Bo Adebayo||Western Kentucky||1|
|4||26||S||Lance Milton||British Columbia||1|
|5||34||LB||Bryn Roy||Texas A&M-Commerce||1|
|6||42||S||Keynan Parker||Oregon State||0|
Lavoie had one of the best rookie seasons of any of 2012’s 45 draftees, recording 33 receptions for 307 yards and four touchdowns. His production slowed down in 2013 due mostly to concussion issues, and, in December of 2013, was selected by Ottawa in the league’s expansion draft. Lavoie has since performed well for the RedBlacks in his two seasons with club, recording 35 receptions for 368 yards and a touchdown.
Adebayo spent time between the Alouettes’ active and practice rosters from 2012-2014, recording two special teams tackles with the Larks. After being claimed off Montreal’s practice roster late in 2014 by his hometown Edmonton Eskimos, Adebayo recorded one defence tackle in green and gold. Adebayo is currently a free agent.
Milton spent one year with the Alouettes, recording one special teams tackle in 2012 before being released. Milton went on to spend a brief period of time with the Argos in 2013.
Roy, often injured in his time with the Alouettes, was released in August of 2015. He recorded ten career special teams tackles with the Larks from 2012-2015 and is currently a free agent.
Parker was cut by the Alouettes in training camp in 2013, his first with the club. Parker was then quickly signed by the Lions, with whom he has notched 43 special teams tackles in three seasons with the orange and white.
White spent the 2012 season on the Alouettes’ practice roster, after which, at the age of 26, he announced his retirement from professional football. Changing his mind some six months later, White re-signed with the Alouettes in September of 2013 and would go on to appear in all eighteen regular season games the following campaign, earning one start. After the 2014 season, White retired again and has not since returned to professional football.
|Team||Total Grade||Average Grade per Pick||Picks still with Team|
|8||Winnipeg Blue Bombers||5||1||1|
As we can see, the clear winners of the 2012 CFL draft are the Lions and Tiger-Cats. These clubs earned two of the three highest grades per selection and have managed to hold on to more of their draftees than any other team. Saskatchewan also had a solid draft, though the fact that they’ve retained just one player hurts them. Montreal and Winnipeg, meanwhile, have the least to show for their 2012 draft classes. The Alouettes didn’t manage to retain a single player they drafted, the lone team with that dubious distinction. The Bombers, meanwhile, finished with the lowest total draft grade of any team, a pathetic phenomenon considering they held five selections, including the third overall pick.
As a final indulgence of CFL draft nerdiness, I thought it would be interesting to see what the first twenty selections of the 2012 draft would have looked like had teams known then what they know now about player development, roster moves, and injuries.
Round 1, Pick 1: DE Justin Capicciotti, Simon Fraser – Saskatchewan Roughriders
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 12 – Edmonton Eskimos
Ben Heenan was a great pick here for the ‘Riders, but his departure to the NFL prior to the 2015 season greatly diminishes his re-draft value. Capicciotti, meanwhile, just put up the best back-to-back seasons by a Canadian pass rusher since former Lion great Brent Johnson put up a combined 28 sacks in 2006-2007.
Round 1, Pick 2: G Kirby Fabien, Calgary – B.C. Lions
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 7 – B.C. Lions
The Lions still get Fabien, they just can’t afford to wait until the seventh overall pick to select him. Fabien’s value is hurt slightly by the devastating leg injury he suffered in his rookie season, but, appearing primed to enjoy a lengthy CFL career at left guard, he becomes the most valuable offensive lineman in this draft.
Round 1, Pick 3: DT Cleyon Laing, Iowa State – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 9 – Toronto Argonauts
Passing on Tyson Pencer — a bad boy who couldn’t play — the Bombers select Cleyon Laing, a bad boy who can. The Bombers have started Jake Thomas at defensive tackle for stretches since 2013 without an appropriate rotational complement, a role Laing would fill admirably. Laing would also add some much-needed bulk to a Bombers defensive line that has been pushed around too easily since the retirement of Doug Brown.
Round 1, Pick 4: CB Courtney Stephen, Northern Illinois – Edmonton Eskimos
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 8 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Eskimos haven’t had a regular Canadian starter at cornerback since Davis Sanchez sported green and gold in 2005, but Stephen, who’s never shied away from the physical aspects of the game, would be a great fit at safety in Chris Jones’ blitz-heavy system.
Round 1, Pick 5: DT/DE Jabar Westerman, Eastern Michigan – Calgary Stampeders
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 2 – B.C. Lions
The Stampeders have started a national player at defensive tackle ever since John Hufnagel was hired on as head coach and general manager in Cowtown. Today’s current rotation of Junior Turner, Quinn Smith, and Corey Mace would be nicely rounded out with the addition of Westerman.
Round 1, Pick 6: G/T Ben Heenan, Saskatchewan – Edmonton Eskimos
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 1 – Saskatchewan Roughriders
Heenan’s stock falls in our re-draft due to his impending NFL departure, but, at sixth overall, the Eskimos simply can’t pass on this Saskatchewan product. Heenan starts guard with the Eskimos from day one, helping settle an offensive line that had a tough time transitioning through the departures of Patrick Kabongo in 2012 and Greg Wojt in 2013.
Round 1, Pick 7: C/G Mike Filer, Mount Allison – B.C. Lions
Original draft: Round 5, Pick 31 – Calgary Stampeders
Filer shoots up our re-draft all the way to the seventh overall spot. The Lions finally filled their need at centre in 2015 with the emergence of rookie international Jason Foster, but having a Canadian player at centre would have a tremendously positive impact on the club’s ratio. Filer, even as a bit of a late bloomer, would fill that need well.
Round 2, Pick 8: WR Shamawd Chambers, Wilfred Laurier – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 6 – Edmonton Eskimos
The Ti-Cats have always played a Canadian receiver as one of their seven national starters. With Andy Fantuz often out of the line-up with injury these past few seasons — and likely on his way out of Hamilton as a free agent in 2016 — having a back-up like Chambers, even with his own injury troubles, would make for a major upgrade in pass-catching depth.
Round 2, Pick 9: LB Sam Hurl, Calgary – Toronto Argonauts
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 12 – Saskatchewan Roughriders
Hurl jumps up three spots in our re-draft to join the Argos who, between Shea Emry (2014), James Yurichuk (2013-2015), Cory Greenwood (2014-2015), and Thomas Miles (2015) have started a plethora of national players in their linebacking core for the past several years. The addition of Hurl would also help deal with the loss of longtime Argo Kevin Eiben, who left Toronto to sign with Hamilton in 2012.
Round 2, Pick 10: DT Christo Bilukidi, Georgia State – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Original draft: Round 3, Pick 21 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
It’s a little bizarre to move a player up eleven spots despite never signing a CFL contract, but, with Bilukidi having possibly exhausted his NFL opportunities this past season, he may be set to come north in 2016. Considering how deep Hamilton’s pool of Canadian talent is, they’re a strong candidate to roll the dice on a player with NFL interest — particularly considering that the Ti-Cats play a Canadian at defensive tackle.
Round 2, Pick 11: LB Frédéric Plesius, Laval – Montreal Alouettes
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 10 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Plesius falls just one spot in our re-draft to his hometown Alouettes. With nationals Shea Emry (2012-2013) and Henoc Muamba (2015) starting at middle linebacker for Montreal these past few seasons, having a capable Canadian back-up like Plesius would be a huge boon for the club’s depth. Plesius’ outstanding work on special teams is also a nice bonus.
Round 2, Pick 12: C/G Matt Norman, Western – Saskatchewan Roughriders
Original draft: Round 3, Pick 22 – B.C. Lions
Without Ben Heenan in the mix, the ‘Riders need to add to their depth along the offensive line. Norman isn’t ready to start as a rookie season, but, with time to develop behind veterans Brendon LaBatte, Dominic Picard, and Chris Best, he eventually grows to make an impact in green and white.
Round 2, Pick 13: G Brad Erdos, Simon Fraser – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Original draft: Round 4, Pick 27 – Calgary Stampeders
Erdos, another late bloomer along the offensive line, provides the Ti-Cats with the added depth they lose with Mike Filer sticking around in B.C. Hindsight’s 20/20, but Hamilton could have used a player like Erdos when guard Peter Dyakowski was lost for the 2014 season to a devastating knee injury sustained in the 2013 Grey Cup.
Round 2, Pick 14: DT Jake Thomas, Acadia – Edmonton Eskimos
Original draft: Round 4, Pick 29 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Thomas rockets up into the second round of the draft to join Courtney Stephen and Ben Heenan in Edmonton. While Winnipeggers Don Oramasionwu and Eddie Steele have played well for the Eskimos at defensive tackle, Thomas would be a nice asset to rotate along the interior of the Esks’ defensive front.
Round 3, Pick 15: S Keynan Parker, Oregon State – Calgary Stampeders
Original draft: Round 6, Pick 42 – Montreal Alouettes
This time around, Calgary picks a different safety named ‘Keenan’ (or, in this case, ‘Keynan’). Parker, another high-climber in our re-draft, leads the entire 2012 CFL draft class with 43 career special teams tackles, making him well worth a top-fifteen pick.
Round 3, Pick 16: FB Patrick Lavoie, Laval – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 11 – Montreal Alouettes
Michel-Pierre Pontbriand is one of the CFL’s better blocking fullbacks, but he doesn’t pose the same offensive threat as Lavoie when it comes to the passing game. Pontbriand and Lavoie give the Bombers a unique, all-Laval pairing of fullback glory.
Round 3, Pick 17: S Keenan MacDougall, Saskatchewan – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Original draft: Round 3, Pick 15 – Calgary Stampeders
MacDougall falls two spots to the Tiger-Cats, who would be delighted to find him available here. A strong special teamer who would fit in nicely alongside fellow national safeties Craig Butler and Mike Daly, MacDougall would be a fitting replacement for original Ti-Cat picks Courtney Stephen and Frédéric Plesius.
Round 3, Pick 18: WR Simon Charbonneau-Campeau, Sherbrooke – Montreal Alouettes
Original draft: Round 4, Pick 25 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Alouettes select local product Simon Charbonneau-Campeau to increase their national receiving talent. With starter Eric Deslauriers serving as the club’s lone Canadian pass-catching threat after the retirement of Ben Cahoon in 2010, Charbonneau-Campeau would be a welcome addition.
Round 3, Pick 19: G Carson Rockhill, Calgary – Calgary Stampeders
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 13 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Rockhill didn’t live up to expectations in the original 2012 draft, but maybe staying close to home in our re-draft allows him to develop into a solid starter. Plus, it makes sense for the Stamps to pick an offensive lineman here — they’d never go twenty picks in a draft without selecting one.
Round 3, Pick 20: DE Arnaud Gascon-Nadon – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Original draft: Round 3, Pick 17 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Gascon-Nadon was a solid pick for the Ti-Cats in the original CFL draft, so why mess with a good thing? As an added bonus, the Tabbies get Gascon-Nadon three picks later than they did in 2012.