There are a number of future first-round NFL draft picks who will suit-up in Monday’s CFB National Championship Game between the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide. Those players are not featured on this list.
This list is dedicated to players who could realistically play in the CFL — some as early as the 2019 season. Let’s take a look.
DL Austin Bryant, Clemson
A thick pass rusher who has enjoyed strong production over his junior and senior seasons, recording 29.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks. Though not as polished or explosive as teammate Clelin Ferrell — an elite pass rusher with top-10 NFL draft pedigree — Bryant remains a formidable player along the defensive line.
Bryant is a power-style pass rusher with a 6-foot-4, 275-pound frame, meaning he would likely play defensive tackle in the CFL. Projected as a mid-round pick in this year’s NFL draft, Bryant wouldn’t come north for a few years — but he could come eventually.
REC Hunter Renfrow, Clemson
The Burlsworth Trophy winner has recorded 184 career receptions for 2,123 yards and fifteen touchdowns in four seasons with the Tigers. Renfrow has excellent hands, but his 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame is undersized for the NFL. I see him as a possession-type CFL slotback (eg. Luke Tasker).
Renfrow has a history of coming up big in the National Championship Game — he scored two touchdowns against Alabama in 2017, including the game winner — so he may leap off the page again this year.
OL Mitch Hyatt, Clemson
The two-time ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner and four-year starter is finishing his tenure at Clemson at the all-important left tackle position. Hyatt is well-tenured as any player in school history as he became Clemson’s all-time leader in snaps from scrimmage earlier this season.
Hyatt has a solid frame at 6-foot-five and 310 pounds, but isn’t projected to be selected until the late rounds of this year’s NFL draft. He needs to add strength to excel at the NFL level and there’s speculation that he’ll need to move inside to guard at the pro level. Sounds like a CFL tackle to me.
DB Mark Fields, Clemson
Fields — a senior — possesses quickness, speed, and strong cover ability. The knock on him is his lack of size. Though his 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame might be small for the NFL, Fields would be a good fit at corner or halfback in the CFL.
Fields’ father was selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. Teams like players with football roots and Fields has that in spades. Fields’ intangibles and experience playing on special teams make him a prime candidate for the CFL should the NFL take a pass.
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
The sophomore pivot had an outstanding first season as the starting quarterback of the Crimson Tide. Throwing for 3,671 yards, 41 touchdowns, and four interceptions in 14 games, Tagovailoa finished second in Heisman Trophy voting to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray.
Hamilton added Tagovailoa to its negotiations list one year ago, narrowly beating out Saskatchewan for the rights to the star passer. The Hawaii native will look to capture a second-straight national title on Monday.