TSN unveiled its annual top-50 CFL players’ list on Tuesday night. It’s an interesting list for fans (and players) to discuss heading into the season and, as much as TSN does its due diligence to put together the best list possible, there are always a few questionable spots on the final list that are up for debate.
With this in mind, I’ve outlined the five biggest misses of the 2016 TSN top-50 CFL players’ list below.
Where are all the defensive tackles?
TSN’s top-50 list included just two interior defensive linemen: Hamilton’s Ted Laurent (13) and Edmonton’s Almondo Sewell (21). While both Laurent and Sewell are fully deserving of their spots, the omission of some other stalwart interior defenders was shameful. BC’s Mic’hael Brooks and Winnipeg’s Euclid Cummings did more than enough to earn spots on the list with their play a season ago. Brooks was phenomenal against the run in 2015, recording 44 tackles — almost double those of Laurent — while providing a consistent interior pass rush on a lackluster B.C. defensive line. Cummings, meanwhile, had eight sacks, tied with 2015 Argonaut teammate Cleyon Laing for the league lead among defensive tackles. It’d be nice to see more respect given to the CFL’s interior defensive linemen in future top-50 lists.
Vidal Hazelton at number 41
Hazelton came in at the 41st spot on the list, a shockingly high ranking for a player who (frankly) didn’t belong on the list. Hazelton had a fine rookie season in 2015 — the three-year NFLer recorded 803 yards and six touchdown in 16 games — but he also missed a game to due disciplinary reasons while failing to match the success of many unranked CFL veterans. Winnipeg’s Darvin Adams (839), B.C.’s Nick Moore (899), Ottawa’s Ernest Jackson (1,036), and Calgary’s Marquay McDaniel (1,038) all had more yardage than Hazelton in 2015, yet none cracked the list. When two players accrue similar statistics, should the one who receives recognition not be the one who has proven their abilities on a multi-year basis? I believe this to be the case — and just another reason why Hazelton’s finish above the likes of McDaniel and Jackson made little sense.
Every starting quarterback… seriously?
All nine starting CFL quarterbacks cracked the top-50 players list on Tuesday night. All nine. Jonathon Jennings, a man with just eight starts to his name, came in at number 31 on the list. Darian Durant, who hasn’t both started and finished a CFL game in almost 22 months, came in at 26th. And Kevin Glenn, a player who is often called the “best insurance policy in the CFL” for his inability to hold down a starting job, appeared at number 48 on the list. Are these players really deserving of top-50 honours? Or is their inclusion a mere byproduct of the position they play? In my opinion, TSN should cap the number of quarterbacks eligible for its top-50 list at five. If you’re not at least an average starting quarterback in the CFL, you simply don’t belong on the league’s top-50 players’ list. And certainly not every starting pivot deserves to be recognized.
On the other hand, if TSN is going to allow its list to be made up of almost 20 percent quarterbacks, I can’t help but wonder why Ottawa’s Trevor Harris failed to crack the list. Harris threw for 4,354 yards and 33 touchdowns last season in Toronto — outstanding numbers for a first-year starter. If TSN is going to include every competent passer north of the border on in its top-50 list, then an excellent back-up like Harris should be included. And let’s be honest: are any CFL general managers out there taking Kevin Glenn over Trevor Harris? Yeah, I wouldn’t either.
Jeff Knox Jr. at number 34
Are we sure that any player from Saskatchewan’s horrific 2015 defence deserves to be on TSN’s top-50 CFL players’ list? Knox’s 114-tackle total from a season ago is impressive, sure, but it’s ultimately diminished by the lack of talent that surrounded Knox last year. Jasper Simmons’ 80-tackle season from 2014 was widely dismissed as a case of an average player standing out on an otherwise putrid unit. Why, then, did Knox’s 2015 tackle total earn him the fourth-highest linebacker spot on the list? Former Argonaut Greg Jones or Winnipeg’s Khalil Bass may have been more deserving candidates for such recognition. With Jones now the starting middle linebacker in Saskatchewan, it will be interesting to see how Knox’s numbers measure up in 2016.
No Collaros at number one?
Eskimo quarterback Mike Reilly finished atop TSN’s top-50 players’ list with a total score of 495, a full 90 points ahead of second-place linebacker Adam Bighill. Though TSN didn’t make Zach Collaros’ point total public, it’s clear the Ticat pivot (who finished fifth) didn’t come close to earning the top spot on the list. To me, this makes little sense. As good as he was in the playoffs last year, Reilly had just 2,449 yards to go along with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in nine regular season starts. Collaros, on the other hand, recorded 3,376 passing yards with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions in twelve starts. Collaros was the consensus CFL Most Outstanding Player when he tore his ACL in late September and, as the pivot who spent more time on the field, should have earned the number one spot on TSN’s list. The fact that Reilly also has arguably the two best receivers in the CFL in Derel Walker and Adarius Bowman only helps Collaros’ case.
Who would you add or remove from TSN’s top-50 players’ list? Let us know in the comment section below.