It’s that time again — time to grade, analyze, and re-draft a CFL draft.
Assessing any draft fairly takes time. The number of factors in determining the quality of a draft class — player development, playing time, coaching, trades, free agency, roster depth, injuries — is huge. Still, given that the 2015 CFL draft is now four seasons in the past, I feel it is fair to assign each selection a grade.
Keeping with the grading scheme of previous re-drafts, the following scale will be used to rate player selections.
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 or has retired
0 — never appeared in a CFL regular season game
It should also be noted that grades only reflect the impact a player has with the team that drafted him. If John Doe is drafted and released by Team A, it doesn’t matter if he later becomes a perennial all-star with Team B; Team A would still receive a grade of 0 for their selection.
Feel free to follow along with the whole draft here.
|1||5||DL||Ese Mrabure-Ajufo||Wilfrid Laurier||1|
|5||41||OL||Campbell Allison||Eastern Michigan|
Mrabure-Ajufo was an off-the-board pick, recording two tackles and a sack in six games as a rookie. He returned to the club in 2016 but was offered a spot on the practice roster coming out of training camp. He chose instead to sign a contract with the Riders where he played for two seasons. Mrabure-Ajufo joined the Stampeders as a free agent in February of 2018 and still remains with the club, albeit on the one-game injured list. He has recorded 45 tackles and six sacks in 49 career games.
Boyko recently signed with the Lions after a four-year stint in the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Chargers) and AAF (San Diego Fleet). He started the season at right tackle in B.C., though he now finds himself on injured reserve.
Covington has yet to sign a CFL contract, recently inking a one-year, $1.75 million USD contract with the Dallas Cowboys following a four-year stint with the Houston Texans.
Murray-Lawrence played 39 games with the Lions, contributing mostly as a return specialist. The Scarborough native recorded 47 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns as a ball carrier, 13 receptions for 73 yards, and 60 kick returns for 1,288 yards. He signed with Montreal and Saskatchewan in 2018, though he never saw the field. He remains a free agent.
Clarke played 52 games over three seasons with the Lions, recording 26 special teams tackles and one defensive tackle. The Bishop’s product signed with the Riders in 2018, though he failed to record a statistic with the club. He is now a free agent.
Forde appeared in 27 games with B.C. over three seasons, recording 15 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one sack. He was traded to the Redblacks in September of 2018, though the deal was voided after Forde failed his physical. The Seattle native was in Winnipeg’s training camp in 2019 but did not make the team.
Allison and Brinkworth never dressed for a regular season game with the Lions.
|4||34||WR||Andrew Johnson||Fort Lewis|
|7||60||LB||Blair Smith||Angelo State||3|
Groulx was drafted as a pro-ready prospect — he was already 25 on draft day — who never panned out. The Laval product appeared in just 17 games over three seasons with Edmonton and missed lots of time due to injury. He’s yet to sign another CFL contract following his release from the Eskimos in January of 2018.
Beard has grown into a starter after filling a depth role in Edmonton during his first two seasons. The Sherwood Park native has appeared in 56 games with the Eskimos and is signed through the 2019 season.
Konar was a steal in the third round, though his career has been limited by injuries. The Calgary product’s best season came in 2017 when he recorded 59 tackles, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and one sack in 12 games. Konar was released in May due to salary cap constraints, signing with his hometown Lions the following day.
Smith was an excellent late-round pick, recording 52 special teams tackles in 52 career games. He has also proven a valuable depth piece at weak-side linebacker, recording 16 defensive tackles, one forced fumble, and one sack.
Johnson never appeared in a CFL regular season game.
|2||18||WR||Lemar Durant||Simon Fraser||3|
Lavoie played in just one regular season game as a rookie, suffering a serious knee injury. The Laval product would later announce his retirement after missing the entire 2016 season due to lingering health issues. It’s a shame we never got to see more from the big man who was developing into a starter at the tackle position.
Durant was limited during his tenure with Calgary — not only did the club boast strong depth at national receiver, he also suffered a torn ACL in 2017. The SFU product still produced respectable numbers, however, with 102 receptions for 1,280 yards and eight touchdowns in 51 career games. Durant signed with B.C. as a free agent this past February and could be poised to become the league’s leading national receiver in 2019.
Varga signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent and made the club’s 53-man roster following a strong training camp. The Yale product recorded a carry and a reception in three games before suffering a career-ending concussion.
Campbell appeared in just five games with Calgary before he was traded to Saskatchewan, recording seven tackles. He has since played for the Riders (2016-2017), Alouettes (2017-2018), and is now a member of the New York Jets.
Langlais has appeared in 67 of a possible 72 career CFL games and is one of the league’s most consistent special teams players. He has just nine career receptions, but his 53 special teams tackles are among the most of the 2015 draft class.
Janke, a university running back, appeared in 16 games with the Stampeders from 2015-2017 and recorded 13 tackles on special teams. Released in May of 2018, Janke signed with the Blue Bombers in February of 2019. He is currently on the team’s six-game injured list.
Buckley made the Stampeders’ roster in 2016 as the club’s third-string quarterback and later earned the back-up job in 2017. The Dinos star recorded 33 completions on 44 pass attempts for 326 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in his career prior to his retirement.
Picton was cut out of training camp in 2015 and his rights were later traded to the Riders. He never appeared in a CFL regular season game.
|4||35||FB||Matt Rea||Michigan State||1|
|5||42||DB||Kwame Adjei||Mount Allison|
|6||50||RB||Melvin Abankwah||Saint Mary's|
Demski appeared in 40 games for Saskatchewan from 2015-2017, starting a number of games at field-side wideout. He recorded 69 receptions for 725 yards and three touchdowns with the Riders along with with 1,060 return yards and one touchdown. The Winnipeg native signed with the Blue Bombers in free agency in February of 2018 and enjoyed a solid season, re-upping with the club through 2020.
Connop played just one season in the CFL before announcing his retirement. He was thrust into the starting line-up prematurely, recording seven tackles in 16 games.
Rea didn’t play much at Michigan State but leapt up draft boards after he performed 31 reps on the bench press at the national combine. He played in Saskatchewan (2015) and Edmonton (2016), recording one career catch. Rea is most remembered for colliding with offensive lineman Corey Watman in the end zone on a would-be touchdown pass.
Tennant played eight games as a rookie with the Riders, recording three tackles and one sack. Released after the 2015 season, Tennant appeared in four games for the Canadian-needy Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2016.
Adjei and Langlais never dressed for a CFL regular season game.
Abankwah showed elite quickness and surprising route-running ability at the combine but tested positive for PEDs after the event was over. He never got another look in the CFL.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Chungh started 69 of a possible 72 games with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the most starts of any player drafted in 2015. A West Division all-star for the first time in 2018, Chungh signed a big-money free agent contract with the B.C. Lions this past February.
Richards appeared in seventeen games with the Bombers over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, recording one reception for 12 yards. Plagued by injury, Richards retired in August of 2017 after he was demoted to the practice roster.
Morgan appeared in 27 games with Winnipeg over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, recording four defensive tackles and 13 special teams tackles. Released prior to the 2017 season due to injury, Morgan eventually signed onto Edmonton’s practice roster at the end of that year. The Queen’s product rejoined the Bombers in 2018, appearing in 15 regular season games.
Normand played in 42 games from 2015 to 2017 and recorded 11 carries for 86 yards, 10 receptions for 53 yards, and nine special teams tackles. He joined the Eskimos as a free agent in February of 2018 and is now a member of the Alouettes.
Lattanzio was released following a failed attempt to convert the six-foot, 250-pound defensive lineman to fullback. Signed quickly by his hometown Redblacks, Lattanzio has recorded 45 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles in 46 games with Ottawa.
Warden appeared in one game with the Bombers in 2016, recording one special teams tackle. Though he got a brief look from the Eskimos, Warden’s career was effectively ended by injuries.
|3||20||LB||Jonathan Langa||Saint Mary's||2|
|4||29||LB||Ron Omara||St. Francis Xavier||2|
|6||51||DB||Everett Ellefsen||McNeese State|
|6||52||WR||Daniel English||British Columbia|
Archambault played just 10 games as a pro, suffering a torn ACL in his rookie season. He recorded eight career special teams tackles prior to his retirement in January of 2017 to pursue further education and a coaching role at the University of Montreal.
Langa has recorded 56 special teams tackles in 58 games with the Ticats, making him arguably the top special teamer from the 2015 draft class. He has never started a CFL game.
Omara played 25 games with the Ticats over two season with the club (2015-2016), recording eight special teams tackles. He has since seen spot duty with the Redblacks (2017) and Lions (2018).
Ellefsen, English and Huggins were all released prior to appearing in a regular season game.
|5||39||RB||Dillon Campbell||Wilfrid Laurier|
McEwen has become a top end starter with the Argos after returning to the University of Calgary in 2015 to complete his USports eligibility. He was named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2017 and is a force to be reckoned with at centre. He is arguably the best player in the entire 2015 draft class.
Waud enjoyed a productive rookie season, recording 12 tackles and three sacks in 17 games. The next two seasons were plagued by injuries — he appeared in just eight games — and those injury issues followed him to Ottawa in 2018. Waud is currently a free agent.
Walker has appeared in 53 games over four seasons with Toronto, recording three defensive tackles, two forced fumbles, one sack, and 25 special teams tackles. He is now on the Tiger-Cats’ practice roster.
Bradfield was briefly on Toronto’s roster in 2016 following an injury to slotback Andre Durie. He saw the field sparingly on special teams.
Norzil, Campbell, and MacDonald were released after training camp but all ended up in Saskatchewan. Norzil also spent time with Calgary, while Campbell was briefly a member of the Alouettes.
|5||37||FB||Jefferson Court||Utah State|
Mateas took a little longer than expected to enter the starting line-up but the local product has been solid at centre since the 2017 season. He’s missed just two games in four seasons and learned patiently behind veteran offensive lineman Jon Gott. The UConn product now anchors the CFL’s only all-Canadian offensive line.
Harty went surprisingly early on draft day and contributed little as a rookie. He eventually got into the starting line-up in his third year, finishing his tenure with the Redblacks with 36 receptions for 307 yards, one touchdown, and 13 special teams tackles. The Calgary product signed with the Riders as a free agent in February of 2018 but has yet to dress due to a torn ACL.
Doll appeared in 22 games with Ottawa, notching two special teams tackles and a forced fumble. He dressed for four games with Hamilton in 2018 and is now a member of the B.C. Lions.
LaFrance appeared in 32 games with the Redblacks over two seasons (2015-2016) predominantly on special teams. The former Bison’s tenure in Ottawa will forever be defined by his 157-yard performance in the 2016 East Final, a game that helped launch the Redblacks to a Grey Cup title. LaFrance has since split time between the Riders (2017, 2019) and Bombers (2018).
Court and Leganiere never appeared in a CFL regular season game.
|1||4||LB||Chris Ackie||Wilfrid Laurier||4|
|3||24||OL||James Bodanis||Michigan State|
|4||31||QB||Brandon Bridge||South Alabama||1|
|6||48||DL||Quinn Lawlor||Brigham Young|
Ackie contributed predominantly on special teams until the 2018 season when he recorded 81 tackles, two interceptions, one sack, and one forced fumble. Traded to Ottawa this past October as a pre-deadline salary dump, Ackie just signed back in Montreal.
Ruby appeared in 20 games with the Alouettes over two seasons (2015-2016) and eventually became the club’s starting left tackle. Released following a string of poor performances, Ruby has spent the past two seasons in Edmonton predominantly as a back-up guard.
Shortill recorded 29 special teams tackles and 22 defensive tackles in 35 games over two seasons with Montreal (2015-2016). Traded to Hamilton in February of 2017, Shortill has since played 17 games for the Tiger-Cats.
Bridge completed 26 of 40 pass attempts with the Alouettes for 282 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Cut partway into the 2016 season, Bridge spent three seasons in Saskatchewan (2016-2018) before signing with Toronto (February 2019) and Montreal (June 2019).
Charette caught 24 passes for 208 yards as a rookie, also chipping in seven special teams tackles. Released following the 2016 season, Charette has appeared in 23 games over two season with the Argos contributing solely on special teams.
Coady appeared in 18 games with Montreal over two seasons (2015-2016) and recorded 12 total tackles. He spent a portion of the 2017 season on Toronto’s practice roster. He also apparently wears his old jersey to Alouettes games.
Anthony Coady, himself.
That, is you most awkward sports moment of the year. Only in the CFL
— Moe Khan (@MoeKhan19) December 24, 2018
Bodanis, Davidson, and Lawlor never appeared in a CFL regular season game.
|Team||Total grade||Average grade per pick||Picks still with team|
|5||Winnipeg Blue Bombers||10||1.7|
This year’s draft scores are pretty spread out. I’ve made each column sortable so you can view the data by a number of different criteria.
Overall, I’d suggest the Eskimos had the strongest draft in 2015. The club made the best selections and kept more of their draft picks than any other team. I’ve got Ottawa at second, though Toronto kept more players.
I’ve got Saskatchewan on the bottom because, while they scored slightly higher than Hamilton on a per pick basis, they didn’t keep any of their selections long-term. A case could be made to put the Ticats (or even the Lions) on the bottom as well.
Knowing what we know now about player development, NFL opportunities, and injuries, here are how the first three rounds of the 2015 CFL draft may have looked.
Round 1, Pick 1: OL Sean McEwen, Calgary – Ottawa Redblacks
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 3 – Toronto Argonauts
The Redblacks have to wait a year for McEwen to report, but they end up with the best centre in the CFL. It’s hard to argue with taking the best player in the draft at first overall.
Round 1, Pick 2: OL Sukh Chungh, Calgary – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 2 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
There’s no reason to change a pick that worked out well for the Bombers. Chungh may have left via free agency, but he was still a four-year starter who fit the club’s offensive scheme perfectly.
Round 1, Pick 3: OL Alex Mateas, Connecticut – Toronto Argonauts
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 1 – Ottawa Redblacks
The Argos still need a centre and Mateas is the best available option with McEwen off the board. The UConn product gets a couple of seasons to develop before taking over the starting job in Toronto.
Round 1, Pick 4: LB Chris Ackie, Wilfrid Laurier – Montreal Alouettes
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 4 – Montreal Alouettes
Another pick that doesn’t need to be changed. Montreal still gets the best defensive play-maker in the draft — though they probably shouldn’t trade him away this time around, although he did return to the Als.
Round 1, Pick 5: REC Lemar Durant, Simon Fraser – B.C. Lions
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 18 – Calgary Stampeders
The Lions get the draft’s best receiver (and a player they recently signed as a free agent) in Durant. He’s also a local product, which is an added bonus.
Round 1, Pick 6: LB Adam Konar, Calgary – Saskatchewan Roughriders
Original draft: Round 3, Pick 25 – Edmonton Eskimos
The Riders get a fleet-footed linebacker who can start on the weak-side while also contributing on special teams. He’s had health issues, but Konar is excellent when healthy.
Round 1, Pick 7: REC Nic Demski, Manitoba – Edmonton Eskimos
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 6 – Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Eskimos get a versatile weapon in Demski — a receiver, ball carrier, and return specialist. He contributes early and often as the team waits on 2016 draftee Tevaun Smith.
Round 1, Pick 8: OL David Beard, Alberta – Montreal Alouettes
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 16 – Edmonton Eskimos
Beard lacked polish coming out of the University of Alberta but his athleticism has helped him become a major contributor at centre and guard. He would project as a starter in Montreal.
Round 1, Pick 9: LB Blair Smith, Angelo State – Calgary Stampeders
Original draft: Round 7, Pick 60 – Edmonton Eskimos
Smith becomes the highest riser in our re-draft, leaping 51 spots into the first round. Without any sure-fire starters available, Calgary adds the draft’s best special teams player.
Round 2, Pick 10: FB William Langlais, Sherbrooke – Ottawa Redblacks
Original draft: Round 3, Pick 27 – Calgary Stampeders
The Redblacks grab a French-Canadian fullback with the ability to help out on both offence and special teams.
Round 2, Pick 11: DB Jonathan Langa, Saint Mary’s – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Original draft: Round 3, Pick 20 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
The Bombers select a defensive back who is a beast on special teams. He fills a critical depth role.
Round 2, Pick 12: QB Brandon Bridge, South Alabama – Toronto Argonauts
Original draft: Round 4, Pick 31 – Montreal Alouettes
The Argos draft a local product they eventually signed in free agency. Bridge provides the Boatmen with an athletic back-up pivot who can start in a pinch.
Round 2, Pick 13: DB Tevaughn Campbell, Regina – Montreal Alouettes
Original draft: Round 3, Pick 22 – Calgary Stampeders
The Als pick-up a lightning-fast cover cornerback who can help out on special teams. Campbell can also return kicks if needed.
Round 2, Pick 14: OL Jacob Ruby, Richmond – B.C. Lions
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 8 – Montreal Alouettes
The Leos pick-up a big-bodied offensive lineman (6’7, 315) with the size the club covets. Ruby can contribute at both guard and tackle.
Round 2, Pick 15: RB Kienan LaFrance, Manitoba – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Original draft: Round 6, Pick 45 – Ottawa Redblacks
The Bombers go local, grabbing a ball carrier to back-up Andrew Harris. LaFrance brings some special teams prowess along with his ability to contribute on offence.
Round 2, Pick 16: LB Nick Shortill, McMaster – Edmonton Eskimos
Original draft: Round 2, Pick 13 – Montreal Alouettes
The Esks grab a special teams contributor with the ability to play a little defence as well. Good athlete with some intangibles.
Round 2, Pick 17: DL Ese Mrabure-Ajufo, Wilfrid Laurier – Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Original draft: Round 1, Pick 5 – B.C. Lions
Mrabure-Ajufo brings the ability to contribute at both defensive end and defensive tackle, helping the Tabbies round out their depth in the trenches.
Round 2, Pick 18: FB Christophe Normand, Laval – Calgary Stampeders
Original draft: Round 4, Pick 33 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers
With Langlais off the board, Calgary grabs the best available fullback. Normand uses his underrated athleticism to contribute on both offence and special teams.