The Edmonton Eskimos released offensive lineman Qadr Spooner on Monday after signing the former second-round pick as a free agent in February.
Not all CFL draft classes are made equal. Each one is unique — some are top-heavy, some are deep, and the positions of strength (or weakness) change from year-to-year.
It’s quickly becoming evident that the talent available in the 2017 CFL draft class — at least in the first two rounds — wasn’t terribly strong.
Five of the top fifteen players selected two years ago are currently free agents. They are: defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie (first overall, Winnipeg); receiver Danny Vandervoort (third overall, B.C.); defensive tackle Randy Colling (sixth overall, Calgary); offensive lineman Mason Woods (tenth overall, Toronto); and offensive lineman Qadr Spooner (fifteenth overall, Winnipeg).
Two more players — receiver Nate Behar (fifth overall, Edmonton) and centre Braden Schram (13th overall, Hamilton) — are already on their second teams.
That isn’t to say there weren’t any talented players available in the 2017 CFL draft.
Defensive end Kwaku Boateng became a starter for the Eskimos in 2018, recording nine sacks and 26 tackles in 16 games. Originally projected as a top-15 pick, the Wilfrid Laurier product fell to the fifth round (41st overall) where he was selected by Edmonton. Boateng recently signed a lucrative contract to remain in green and gold for the next two seasons.
Defensive back and kick return specialist Tunde Adeleke quickly became a starter with the Stampeders at both safety and strong-side linebacker. The Carleton product was selected 25th overall and was the third defensive back off the board. Adeleke signed with the Ticats this winter but was also courted by Calgary and B.C. (among others).
There are a number of other key contributors who were drafted two years ago: linebacker Cameron Judge, Saskatchewan (second overall); defensive end Connor McGough, Hamilton (fourth overall); guard Evan Johnson, Ottawa (ninth overall); guard Dariusz Bladek, Saskatchewan (12th overall); linebacker Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga, Edmonton (22nd overall); linebacker Jordan Herdman, B.C. (60th overall); and running back Sean Thomas-Erlington (66th overall).
There are also three players who remain in the NFL: defensive tackle Eli Ankou, Ottawa (26th overall); tight end Antony Auclair, Saskatchewan (30th overall); and offensive tackle Justin Senior, Edmonton (40th overall).
Offensive lineman Geoff Gray (eighth overall) signed with the Bombers last fall after a two-year stint in the NFL. He is currently in the mix for the starting job at right guard.
With five of its top fifteen selections currently looking for work, the 2017 CFL draft is yet another reminder that it’s how you perform — not where you’re drafted — that counts.
Lots of players selected in the draft’s mid-to-late rounds have made the most of their young careers. Others, including a handful among the draft’s top fifteen picks, have not.